Some days, gratitude comes easily, and other days....well....not so much. We all have those days of dirty dishes, work deadlines, bickering children, vomiting cats, headaches, broken tail lights and a big pile of bills, and it's kinda hard to remember when you're grateful for in the midst of all that.
But,one thing I know for sure is this:
Whatever you focus on tends to be what you get more of.
It's not just the hippie woo woo people who think so, either. It's just the way it works~ If you think about the truly happy people you know, I'm guessing they don't sit around wanking about their miseries for too long.
Knowing that focusing on the good stuff really does help you get through the sucky stuff is one thing, but that doesn't mean it always comes easily or naturally. For those of us who have slightly more brittle exterior tendencies, it can take some serious effort. Like much of parenting and life in general, theory is one thing, reality is another.
If the gratitude isn't flowing freely on it's own, that's when it becomes a conscious choice~ you have to actually do the work to switch your own mindset.
Sometimes just writing a list of everything I'm grateful for helps, sometimes affirmations help, but sometimes, I need to get a little more specific in my thought process, especially when it comes to the really big and important stuff ~ like parenting.
In case you too are in the mood to analyze what in the heck you have to be happy about in your parenting life, here's a journal page I made to get the process rolling. You can download the PDF below.
If you prefer not to use an entire ink cartridge on one project, I don't blame you one bit. So, I made a not so colorful version (Just the questions, no pretty background) to print out, you can get that here.
I hope you enjoy the journal questions, and as always, if you like my stuff, please "like" my facebook page as well, and share it with a friend or five!
And please share in the comments below what you are thankful for, especially on the days when there seems to be less to give thanks for.
In the midst of the business of life, with the added crazy of the holidays looming, I love seeing people actually thinking about Thanksgiving. And by that, I mean the actual act of giving thanks, not just taking a day off work in America, and over stuffing ourselves (even more than usual, that is.)
I'm seeing people posting daily lists of gratitude on Facebook, and while some skeptics might say that those are just another means of feeding our public displays of narcissism, I think that any means of getting people to quit bitching and focus on positive stuff is a good thing.
So, yes, I think I'll join the bandwagon. No, not with daily posts, I just can't handle that kind of public commitment and pressure. But I think I can manage a weekly roundup of gratitude. This week will be in the form of pictures of some of the things that really do make my life better. Next week, who knows what I will do, because I just don't plan ahead that well.
Presenting Thankful Thursday.Here are some of the reasons that I am so very blessed.
Fall brings with it so many things that I love, like the changing of leaves, the chance to wear boots and to eat cool weather comfort food. It also brings along things I really have absolutely no idea what to do with. Like schedules and football.
Sports in general are something I just never have gotten into as a player or a fan. Sure, I tried to play on the school basketball team in 6th grade, but I was on the “B” team, which everyone knew meant that we sucked but the adults wanted to make us feel better by letting us play anyway. They gave us our own team of other non-talented players, but everyone knew it was a pity team. After that, I realized that athleticism was not one of my God given talents.
Watching sports has always been baffling to me as well, and while I’ve had friends who would argue over their favorite teams, I never could bring myself to care about watching grown men throw balls around.
When pregnant with my first child, I remember a seasoned mom telling me that children were born their own independent persons with preferences and personalities that might make no sense whatsoever to us. At the time, I joked that it would be hysterical if my kid turned out to be a jock. I think Mother Nature likes little jokes like that.
It wasn’t that child, but eventually the Universe did give me a little athlete in my Boy Child. When it became obvious that the kid loved to throw balls and play sports, despite my non sporty nature, I signed him up for some low key, non competitive sports, hoping someone else could guide him since I was "B team" material. We started with baseball.
I really wanted him to play just for fun, enjoy the game and all of that, so I thought it was a good thing that some of the leagues didn’t even keep score.
Of course, just like when I was a child, the kids know what’s up. They wanted to win and they kept score on their own. They were often wrong about the score, generally thinking they did much better than they actually did, but at least they had good self esteem, right?
This time of year, in the days following Halloween, I always try to take the time to stop to remember and honor some of my loved ones who have died.
As one who loves to celebrate, I’ve always been an adopter of miscellaneous holidays, taking parts and pieces of other traditions and making them into something meaningful for my own life. My version of Dia De Los Muertos usually consists of visiting a grave, maybe lighting a candle and having a snack while telling stories about the deceased, usually with more laughter than tears.
Since we began the practice, we focused mainly on our Good Dog Lug, my Grandpa Walt and my firstborn son Hans. Walt and Hans had died a number of years before we started the practice ~ my kids don’t remember either of them, but I appreciated the way it kept their stories alive. They both grew up with Good Dog Lug and lived with her until her last day, but while they knew, loved and remembered her, still, the wounds weren’t fresh.
In years past, I have spent time with my children eating crab cheese wontons on my Grandfather’s grave and remembering that he would have told us our lunch smelled like sewage. We have lit candles, and placed pretty rocks and even bones on the grave of our Good Dog Lug while we laughed and told stories of her mischief. I have sat alone and held the blanket that belonged to my first born baby Hans.
All of those deaths were a long time ago. No, time does not erase the pain, but time and space are a sort of salve on a wounded heart, and make it easier to smile at the fun times rather than just cry over the loss.
This year is different. In the last 12 months our family has had so many deaths.
By far, the most painful of all was the loss of my Grandma Peggy~ she was the matriarch of my family and in my mind, she was a saint with extraordinary patience and strength. She always had a way of letting me know that I was the apple of her eye.
I'm normally a woman of many words, but there are none that can adequately express her influence in my life and how fortunate I was to have her as my Grandmother.
As a little girl, I remember knowing that she could brush the knots out my my tangled hair without making it hurt. She took me out to restaurants and bought me Shirley Temple’s to drink in fancy glasses, making me feel totally elegant and grown up.
She didn’t baby me though. I remember her scrubbing my skinned knees with iodine, and letting me know I had been doing something I shouldn’t have which was why I got injured in the first place. She didn’t yell at me or make me feel bad~ she just told it like it was.
As a teenager, when I dyed my hair rainbow colors, she must have thought I was crazy, but she never once said anything negative to me about it. In fact, I can’t remember her saying anything to me about it at all, or even acting like anything was different. She just loved me like she always had.
When I had children of my own, I know that some of my parenting ideas were a bit of a stretch from what she grew up with. She did raise her eyebrows slightly at my ideas on occasion, but was always supportive, no matter what.
My Grandmother was a role model for unconditional love, and had an amazing ability to not say anything if she didn’t have anything nice to say. She knew how to work hard, and how to pick her battles. She knew how to get things done and make things happen. She inspired me to want to be a better person.
My Grandma was married for 53 years before she became a widow, and they still thought of each fondly until the end. Up to her own last days, thirteen years after the death of my Grandpa, she always spoke of him with love and respect. To me, that shows a kind of loyalty and level of commitment that most people today can’t even imagine knowing.
From her I inherited a love of adventure and travel, and telling stories. In her eighties, she jumped on an opportunity to go for a ride in a speedboat on the lake, shushing me and my concerns, and smiling the whole time. If there was fun to be had, she had it, and if there was a story to be told, she told it.
Unfortunately, I did not get her sense of diplomacy and way of holding harsh words. That woman had an amazing ability to make things happen her way without needing to be loud. I did learn to make things happen, but not so much how to do it quietly.
The last few weeks of my Grandmother’s life were brutally difficult, with tremendous suffering for her and those who loved her, but she continued to show her strength, fighting hard until the end.
A few months after the death of my Grandma, another death followed, my sweet old cat, Miss Silver Grey Cloud. I was still grieving my Grandmother and the harshness of her ending, but Miss Silver’s death was completely different.
None of us knew how old this cat was, but she had been a part of our pack of furry animals for years, giving us many smiles and much entertainment along the way, and by the end, she was clearly ancient~ her walk had become a hobble and her hearing had gone.
She had been a wildish thing when she moved herself in under our back porch, but when she choose us as her family, she must have trusted us enough to become tame.
The day she died, I was supposed to be on a camping trip, but the reservations had filled up, so we stayed home. It was raining lightly, which is not normal summer weather in my part of the country, and I was outside doing some random errand that comes with life on a little farm when I found her curled up sleeping, and breathing slowly.
She didn’t move when I said her name, but she was deaf, so that was not unexpected. But when I touched her, I knew something was wrong. Her body was stiff, almost like she was already dead, but she was breathing and her eyes opened to look at me.
I knew something was wrong and scooped her up immediately taking her in and wrapping her in a blanket. I checked her thoroughly for injuries, and there were none. As she looked into my eyes, somehow I knew that she was just done with her life and moving on. I knew the long car trip to the vet would be traumatic and pointless and that what was happening was going to happen either way.
I chose the peaceful way. I cried for a while with her, and made her a nest on my work table so she could be with me for whatever time she had left.
When my kids woke up, I let them know what was happening. They held her and talked to her. Our other cats and dogs all came and spent time near her saying their goodbyes. She rested peacefully through the day, waking to look at us every so often.
I was with her when she took her last breath, and somehow in her death, I found healing because I saw that the end of life can be as sacred as the start. Her death was as peaceful as a birth.
We also lost three of my all time favorite old hens this year ~ Banty, Serious and Good Mama. These weren’t just chickens, but pets with personality who had been with us seven or more years. They were all excellent mothers who had a lifetime pass to live with me, even though they were old and didn’t lay many eggs anymore. They had earned their keep in their youth, and they always provided entertainment.
Then we lost two baby chicks in one day, which was was the last straw so to speak.
So today I will take my children to eat lunch on my Grandparent’s graves, and we'll most likely talk about life and death. And tonight I will light a bonfire, burning remnants of the past and symbols of deaths~ both physical and metaphorical, feeling thankful for what was, and looking forward to what’s next.
Zesty Mom's Guide to Having Fun on Wheels: AKA 6 Important Things tp Remember if You Go Roller Skating and Would Prefer Not to Die in the Process
OK, I should probably admit up front that I am not at all qualified to give professional advice on anything, let alone roller skating or other wheeled sports.
In fact, there was no Caldwell Park Figure Skating Competition, aside from the one my Girl Child and I made up in our heads and laughed about as we rolled madly down the river trail.
But, when I posted a photo of me skating with a caption that I was the 2013 Champion as a joke on my personal page, well, it got a whole buncha likes, along with comments about how inspiring it was. I'm hoping these were just for the joyful picture and not because anyone was under the illusion that I actually won a contest. I mean, I did, but it was only in my mind, and I was the only contestant.
Anyhoo...back to my Guide to Fun on Wheels.
Here Are 6 Important Things to Keep in Mind (before you go rolling off into the sunset):
1) Don't Be Scared...It's Fun...All the Cool Kids are doing it....
For some reason, many people over the age of say...30 tend to shy away from anything that involves their bodies and wheels, with the exception of cars, of course.
Perhaps this is because they have lost their sense of fun. Perhaps it is because they think they'll look ridiculous. Perhaps they are just afraid of falling because they know it will really hurt and cost them a whole lotta money if they break anything.
My answer to all of the above is to say "pshaw." Trust me, the older you get, the more you'll need your sense of fun. Life can suck the joy right of of you if you aren't careful, and really...as adults we're the ones who do all the work and deal with all the problems...why exactly wouldn't we allow ourselves as much fun as the kids?
As far as looking ridiculous, just see the above picture. Do I look like I care? I'm having FUN! In regards to falling and breaking things, well...here's my disclaimer (In fine print even!): I can't be responsible for any injuries sustained by attempting wheeled sports, but I do advise that you DO NOT try them when under the influence of alcohol or other anything else that might affect your ninja reflexes.
So, come on...it'll make you feel good (well, unless you fall. That will hurt, but again, to be clear, that's totally not my fault.)
2) Hills look a lot steeper (and therefore deadlier) when you are on wheels than when you are just walking on your own two feet.
Be forewarned that when you come upon a mild slope, the decline of which you had never before noticed, although you may have walked past 50 million times, well....it might just look and feel like a freaking sheer mountain, and you might feel like you are topping speeds of 90 miles per hour which can cause panic and alarm.
If you find yourself already heading down one of these hillocks / cliffs, I recommend a zig zag approach for your descent to slow you down and hopefully prevent an embarrassing crash and burn scenario. Flailing arms and vocalizing "ooooooooohhhhh shoooooooot" seems to help me feel better too.
Although, this strategy can backfire... which brings me to #3.
3) Beware of other people on wheels who want to pass you.
When you are leisurely meandering back and forth down the slope attempting a non lethal pace, you will sort of be taking up more than your own half of the trail. This puts you in danger of other wheeled riders who are often faster and more talented than you and will crush you like an insect if you don't move.
In my experience, skateboarders tend to be polite about trying not to run you down and asking / warning you to get out of the way, although I have nearly been smashed by more than one. The bicyclists however, are the worst. Not the recreational kind on a family ride~ they're usually nice enough.
It's the serious guys in the skin tight shorts and helmets who look as though they're entering some kind of race or contest~ they are they ones who tend to freak the heck out yelling "Passing on the right!!!!" in an angry and accusing tone, as if I don't have the right to enjoy both sides of the river trail, as if they don't have brakes and handlebars which can maneuver them a heck of lot more easily than what my skates offer. They are the ones I fear most.
On a lighter note...
4) Find Gear that You Love
Inline skates are just not my thing~ they feel all 1990's to me. No thanks~ Since there's really not a current 'in' option in skates, I prefer to go old school with my purple and white quad style pair.
I feel like I could be a Roller Derby Queen in those things, which I might actually try if I just got to skate in circles knocking people outta my way, but the fact that those people would also try to knock me over...well, that doesn't sound so fun. I bruise easily, and am not that well insured, and besides... some of those ladies look pretty hard core.
Anyhoo~ back to gear~ as with most things in life, you are probably going to enjoy yourself more and participate more if you have equipment that you actually like. That doesn't mean you have to get the $300 pair of pro skates that you'll only use a couple of times. I found mine for $40 on sale at Big 5. There's usually a happy medium between the top of the line expert gear and some cheap ugly junk that you hate.
The main thing is, you want to look at your gear and get that cool kid feeling. If you like something and feel good about it, you'll use it, and in my case, I became the envy of almost every 8 to 12 year old girl I passed.
5) SAFETY BELTS!!!
Please, please wear a belt. This is really important...I mean it. Really. At the very least, make sure your pants fit well. There are a couple of very important reasons for this.
a) If you are around little kids on skates, they tend to grab you when they are falling, and if there is any chance of them pulling your pants down, they will. As one of the few moms who will don skates, I have found myself the designated hand holder for many a little one as they learned to walk on wheels at our local Homeschool Skate Day. I have almost lost my pants more than once in this role, and learned that while loose fitting or stretchy waistbands may be nice for visiting buffets, they are not appropriate for skating with little kids.
b) When low rise jeans came onto the scene, I witnessed more teen girl butt crack at the skating rink than I have seen in plumbers over the course of my entire life. I'm fairly sure that these young ladies would have been mortified if they had any idea, although the breeze on their backsides might have given them a clue.
In any case, belts are really important. They might not save a life, but they can save you from some serious embarrassment.
6) Don't get cocky
Flying around on wheels can give you an incredible feeling of freedom and joy, and if you don't wipe out, it can also give you the illusion that you have more skills than you actually do, which might make you want to get all fancy.
Stretching your limits is one thing. Thinking you don't have any is another.
I've attempted a few tricks on wheels~ some more successful than others. While I haven't hurt myself, I have been humbled a few times and found myself uttering phrases like"I'm not as spry as I used to be."
The main thing is to avoid being completely humiliated by injuries that require casts or physical therapy. For some reason, it's just more socially acceptable and less embarrassing for a kid to earn a cast through a failed tricks on wheels than for an adult to do the same. As a kid, it can even be cool. As an adult, you may look silly. It's not fair, I know, but it's the world we live in.
Also, remember that as the adult, you have to pay for those mistakes, which just adds insult to your injury. (Refer to disclaimer in #1)
Nevertheless, I think getting on wheels is well worth it, and I highly recommend you give it a try. It's fun! It's sporty! It's entertaining for those around you! You might just surprise yourself and your kids.
The next step for me might be borrowing my Boy Child's skateboard (although hills will not be a part of this experiment in any form)
How about you? Would you try wheeled sports with your kids? I'd love your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and if you liked this post, please "like" it on Facebook as well. Better yet, share it with your peeps!
At a certain point in life, most women in America will come to the realization that some scary and hairy changes may be ahead. For quite some time now, the world around me has been dropping not so subtle hints that the time for me may be coming sooner than I’m ready for.
I first began to catch on while laughing into the wee hours and listening to my friends talk about the changes to their bodies, specifically their body hair, including all of the places and ways it could sprout out from their formerly feminine skin.
It all started so innocently, and all seemed so comical and distant to me- one of those things I’d joke with other people about, but that didn’t really affect me in any personal sense. That’s what I thought at the time anyway. But, as time went on, I began to realize that I had just been blind.
Unwanted hair is a hard core and ruthless bully that attacks even the most unlikely of candidates. None of us is safe.
The first woman to really open up about the subject was a real life wise woman who wears her long and flowing grey locks like a crown, and frankly she rocks this look. This particular night, my Silver Wise Friend shared an experience more terrifying to me than a head full of grey hair. “Right around the same time as my eyesight started fading, I started sprouting hairs on my chin.”
I choked in disbelief at the horrid news and my wine shot out of my nose. I’d never personally seen any hairs on her chin, but apparently she has made a deal with her teenage daughter. If the young one will discreetly and kindly point out any stray facial hair to the older one, she will avoid being seen in public with a bearded mother. Since mothers of teens are inherently embarrassing to them, the girl was apparently happy to avoid further mortification.
I tried to console myself with the fact that this friend is older. I should have years before I have to worry about things like this, right? Nevertheless, it strikes a pang of fear in my heart.
If that’s what’s to come, frankly, it scares the heck out of me.
Another friend who is closer to my age told of the side effects of waxing her eyebrows and upper lip. “The worst part is, it’s started to change the texture of my skin. It’s all thick and weird above my lip now.”
Holy crap. I felt so naive. No part of this conversation had ever even occurred to me. But after hearing all of this, all I could think was ‘What if have a freaking mustache?’ I’m much darker than this fair skinned red headed woman. I have way more hair in general.
What if I’d been walking around with whiskers and not even knowing it? Someone would tell me, right? Or would they just ignore it, perhaps thinking it was some anti establishment statement of mine and just whisper behind my back about it?
The chatter began to make me realize that these hair issues go far beyond and below the head and face. The next friend to speak up was a cute young blonde with very white teeth that you can’t possibly miss because she says everything with a smile. “That’s nothing. Even after natural childbirth, I cry every time I wax some other areas...”
Dear God, with her Nordic ancestors, she doesn’t look like she’d have enough body hair to pluck, let alone wax. Did I mention that she’s nearly ten years younger than me? The tiny eyebrows she does have are thinner than her eyeliner. I tried imagining something that fragile and slim above my eyes- the pain it would take to achieve and how silly it would probably look on me. I come from people with eyebrows. To some extent I need to embrace this.
But all the facial hair talk was still haunting me. My heart began to panic, and I considered running to the bathroom to check and see if I had any surprise shoots sprouting out of my upper lip. Before I could get up, another friend refilled my wine glass. Sidetracked by the burgundy liquid, I decided to just listen and laugh along. After three glasses of wine, it’s probably not the best time to make any cosmetic decisions decisions anyway. Perhaps my wise friend is wearing off on me after all?
The next day though, I was still thinking about hair issues and remembered that my college roommates had nicknamed me ‘Bert’~ as in Ernie’s friend from Sesame Street with the long face, big nose, wide open mouth and monobrow. They even bought me a Bert doll for Christmas “When we saw it, it just totally reminded us of you!”
I have to admit...the resemblance was uncanny. But, no 19 year old girl really wants to know that she looks like a bushy eyebrowed male puppet. I joined in the laughter at the time, but mine had a dark tinge to it.
I was never sure if I was being paranoid or if these conversation and memories were signs that I really needed to inspect what might be growing on my face, but it wasn’t really on my mind when I pulled down the visor mirror in the car that day. I had only wanted to check my teeth- to make sure there were no signs of the blueberry smoothie stuck in the spaces between. I hadn’t really wanted to see myself so up close and personal, certainly not while under the influence of self doubting paranoia.
It was as if suddenly my visor mirror had gained magnifying properties, blowing up every imperfection on my face, but there seemed to be a magnetic force drawing my eyes to the hair just above them on my forehead.
I literally gasped when I saw the thick and unruliness of the black lines crossing my forehead. It wasn’t quite Frida Kahlo style, but more of a resemblance than I was comfortable with.
Apparently, it had been a while since I’d picked up the tweezers. Damn those years I spent in the hippie coastal town. I made it out of there still shaving my armpits, but I’m afraid it influenced my slacker efforts in maintenance of my physical appearance. Suddenly, I had a massive job to do.
I began mumbling to myself in the car, questioning if this was too big a job for such a small tool. I realized I could be there all day trying to pluck those babies one at a time. This problem of mine was going to require a fast speed and large scale solution. I knew then that it was time for me to pull out some big girl tools.
The moment sticks in my head, alongside other “firsts” in life. I don’t know if every woman remembers the first time she succumbs to the idea that she is a candidate for waxing, but for me, it felt like a cross between resignation and initiation. It was a scary thought, but not as scary as the idea of letting those brows get any bigger.
I was headed to the health food store that day anyway, and thought that surely they must have a product to bring my wayward brows into line without making my skin thick and weird.
Of course, the shelves of the beauty aisle had nearly a dozen alternatives to confuse me. I was too shy to ask anyone about it, even though statistically speaking, it seems that every woman in the country has unwanted hair somewhere or another.
The box that caught my eye was a sugar wax, with honey, aloe and lavender. How could it not be wonderful for me with those ingredients? According to the box, it would nourish my skin, leaving me feeling relaxed. I bought it and raced home.
I read through the entire instruction pamphlet before I began. It’s something I never bother to do, but this was too important to mess up. It was my face after all. Carefully warming the small jar of sugar mixture so as not to burn it, I inhaled the smell of something delicious. Back in the bathroom under the brightest light I could come up with, I used a fine comb to arrange my brows into a pleasant shape, separating the keepers and the losers.
As I slowly spread the food grade ingredients over the rejected hairs, I briefly wondered if doing this myself was a mistake. Should I have gone to a professional? An annoying little voice in my head, the result of a lifetime of genius marketing campaigns designs, questioned not only my eyebrows, but my competency in dealing with them myself. My heart and breathing sped up a little.
My mind flashed back to a girl in junior high who have herself an angry red rash between her eyebrows with an at home hair removal cream.
What kind of example would I be for my daughter if I wound up with a self inflicted ugly mess above my eyes from chasing some illusive external standard? What about natural beauty?
But at this point, I was already committed with a rapidly cooling sugar solution spread around my brows. It was too late to go back, so I forced myself to get a grip and move on with the show.
I slowly spread the food grade ingredients, briefly wondering if this was a mistake. Should I have gone to a professional? At this point, my heart started to race, and my breathing sped up. I had to talk myself down.. I was already pretty committed at this point with wax on my face. It was too late to go back.
As I gently pressed the muslin strip in place, I prayed that I wouldn’t screw up and botch my face. Taking a deep breath, I go for it. It stung, which I expected, making my eyes water. When the tears cleared, I took a deep breath and looked at me reflection in the mirror, it actually looked OK. Not too big, not too small, my eyebrows fit my face. It did look better, and wasn’t so drastic that people would blatantly notice.
But nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I looked at the muslin. When plucking one hair at a time, there’s just no way to gauge the cumalative excess of eyebrows removed. Looking down at the strip however, my mouth gaped in horror. It looked like I’d pulled a wooly caterpillar off of my face.
Later that day, I’d recovered from the shock, and was feeling pleased with my first time with wax when I heard the DJ on the radio announce that a scientist had developed a new procedure.
Apparently, doctors can now perform eyebrow transplants. Well, I have plenty to share, so maybe someday I'll get to be a donor.
Have you ever had to deal with scary and hairy changes? Any advice or words of wisdom? Please share in the comments below. And if you liked this, I hope you'll also "like" it on Facebook and share with your friends.
Autumn arrived and the change of seasons has brought with it the first rains we’ve seen in months. My thirsty trees and plants are soaking up the love in the same way they soak up the first warm days of spring. They were ready for this.
And I’m ready too. Although the flooding gutters, muddy driveway and dropping temperature remind me that I’ll have plenty to do to get ready for the winter that’s coming, I’m still committed to enjoying the change of fall while it’s here, along with all of the other changes in my life.
In some ways, I’m as thirsty for a new season in my life as the dry foothills around me are. I often think that nature seems to roll with change so much more easily than we people sometimes do, but really, it’s a process on all sides. Just like the trees don’t have to be ready for freezing nights just yet, I don’t have to stress that I might not be completely prepared today for what might come two seasons from now either. All I have to do is know that change is coming, know that I am equipped to deal with it and soak up all the wonderful rain that is refreshing my soul right now.
Looking back at the changes of the last few years, I feel like I’m no longer a sapling dependent on outside stakes to keep from snapping in the wind. I have a much stronger trunk, the kind that knows how to bend and flex in storms. I have sturdy roots, have been pruned and can carry heavy loads. I also produce beautiful flowers, comforting shade and nourishing fruit. And I know that I’m still growing.
So, today I’m enjoying that the air smells clean and fresh. I’m ignoring the lack of firewood and slightly leaking window because the bigger picture is that I’m in a warm and cozy home with my children, a pot of soup on the stove, bread in the oven and plenty of movies and board games. Today, I’m soaking up all the blessings in the midst of change.
And I'm looking forward to seeing what the next season brings my way.
How about you? Any changes on the horizon?
The season officially changes to autumn this week, and the busyness of fall is in full swing for my family. Life is full of so many good things, that I'm lacking in time to write...so, it must be time for another episode of Wordless Wednesday.
Since the trees show the change of seasons before anything else around here, trees are my theme today.
Yes, I realize I'm kind of blowing the whole 'wordless' part, so without further ado, and for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the beautiful things in my world these days....
For most of us, life comes with enough challenges all on its' own. We’re going to get plenty of hard stuff thrown at us to deal with, without our wanting it or having to go looking for it. Yeah, yeah, I know...we grow through the tough stuff. And there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for growth in life.
So, trying to figure out exactly why people find the idea of making up their own challenges to be enticing...well, it's always just plain baffled me.
Sit up challenges, squats challenges, blah, blah, blah. I like the idea of being fit, but I have enough trouble remembering to walk the dog.
Elsewhere in life, who cares if a kid wants to wear a superhero cape to the store or mismatched socks to class or even have blue hair? Is it really necessary to challenge it?
No one has ever been able to explain to me why on earth a person would choose to wash dishes by hand when there is a perfectly good dishwasher right there under the counter? Is there not enough housework?
And don’t even get me started on a manual transmission. Why? Just why?
Some things are simply way more work than they need to be. And I for one don’t feel like I need any more work.
When life makes you watch people you love get sick and die, and other people just walk away, and when you have to start over and figure out a whole new way in the world, well, in the midst of stuff like this, who in the heck needs another round of difficulties?
But, I’ve started to realize that once in awhile, there are times when it makes sense to choose a challenge for yourself. There’s a power that can come with stepping up on purpose rather than just because life threw you into a storm, and it’s kind of nice to have some directional input on your personal growth.
And sometimes, it can even be fun.
This past weekend, I had the chance to take on some marvelous challenges~ I was an adult leader for a group of 27 teens for an adventure weekend at Mother Lode River Center. And what an adventure it was.
Our day started with team building and trust activities before we could move on to the high flying adrenaline stuff. Some of the teens were anxious to get to straight to the zipline, but for me, the challenges started right there when the facilitators suggested that we adults keep quiet and not offer suggestions, ideas or reminders but rather just let the kids work out everything on their own. In other words, we were supposed to just keep our traps shut. For me, not talking was much harder than scaling 40 feet up a tree and jumping off of a platform.
For the most part, I managed to keep my trap shut, and I’ll admit that it was pretty cool to watch the kids work together, try different strategies, find leadership amongst themselves and ultimately come up with their own solutions.
Interestingly, one problem solving activity resulted in me literally dropping the ball solely because I was looking ahead and behind me to see what the others were doing rather than watching what I was doing. I’m always seeing metaphors in life, so that was one that really made me think “hmmmmmmm” in a not so flattering, albeit enlightening way. Perhaps I need to be a little more in the moment and pay attention to my role in things instead of worrying about everyone else?
Before we could go on to the big fun, I also got to be a part of a trust fall with a little 12 year old who weighed about half as much as me. I was slightly terrified that I would crush her, but she held her ground, and we both made it out without injury. It was tricky because I didn’t want her feel like I didn’t trust her, but seriously, I could’ve flattened her if she hadn’t paid attention.
The first real action came in the form of hoisting each other over a 10 foot straight wall with no hand or footholds~ just people working together to push, pull and shove their friends over, and standing by to catch them in case the attempts failed. One of our youngest kids almost had a panic attack, but then, when he was ready, stepped up and scaled it like a ninja. I actually got teary eyed with all the cheering from the group and his smile of accomplishment.
That little scared guy was the first one to run to head of the line for the big stuff. This included:
* a catwalk consisting of a log strung about 20 feet off the ground~ all about finding balance
* a tightrope style contraption that required 2 people to work together to get across~ teamwork is totally necessary on this because you cannot do it alone
* a climbing wall~ this one is totally independent~ you gotta find your own strength and people can offer suggestions, but no one is helping you
* a zipline~ just plain crazy fun. My happy screams may have shattered a few car windows in the area.
* and the biggest of all was the Leap of Faith.
Now, this fit perfectly with the metaphors that seem to reflect my life these days, especially since I’m working on Learning to Leap and all.
This involved climbing up stakes in a tree to a little bitty platform 40 feet above the ground, and jumping out, attempting to catch a trapeze. In my case, I took a breath, closed my eyes, and leaped. It felt awesome to just jump, even if I couldn’t see where I was going.
I would love to do it again sometime, and this time with my eyes wide open, but for the time being, I’m just happy I leapt, because that was the lesson I needed~ to jump blindly and trust.
The kids all seemed to grow, and bond, to push their own personal limits, and most of all to support and encourage each other through it all. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I know they all had a heck of a lotta fun in the process. And I’m pretty sure I got just as much out of the deal as they did.
So, what do you think of self imposed challenges? Do you try to steer your growth, or just roll what life throws? I'd love to hear what has worked and what didn't work for you in the comments below.
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We've all seen her....the exhausted mother in the grocery store with her crying children, her messy clothes and hair and looking like she's about to start crying herself. If we're honest, most of us have probably been that mom as well.
I can remember clearly being in that position, where you are too tired, your usual coping skills are a distant memory, and it feels like everyone in the world is judging you.
When I see that mom these days, I usually want to go give her a big hug and tell her that really, it's gonna be OK.
But since many people find it alarming to be hugged by random strangers, I instead usually just offer a smile, one that I hope lets her know she is not alone and that it will get better.
Parenting in the younger years seems to lend itself to the most to public meltdowns by all family members, but really,at any stage of parenting, most of us are gonna have days or weeks where we can use reminders that the hard times will pass, that we haven't ruined their kids, and that we're doing a good job.
As woo woo as it sounds, I really think happy thoughts make a huge difference in life.
I've shared Happy Thoughts cards that I've made here before~ positive affirmations you can print, cut out and post around places to remind yourself of the things you need to hear.
But lately, every time I see that frazzled mom, I realize that she's probably stretched too thinly to seek out those happy thoughts for herself, and she needs them most of all. I've also been thinking what a wonderful thing it would be if those of us with some happy thoughts to spare, could get a few of them to her.
So, I made a new set of Happy Thoughts, and these are meant to share. If you print and cut them out, they should end up roughly about wallet size, so they're easy to carry with you. You can get the full sized version by clicking below.
When you see a parent unloading cranky kids from car seats, stick one of these on her windshield. Hand one to the mom who has a crying kid hanging on each leg and another throwing all of the groceries out of the cart. Your friend with the angsty and experimental teen could probably use the love. And the mom who has well groomed and well behaved children? Give her one too because you never know what's going on underneath the shiny exterior.
I hope you'll take on the mission is to spread a little love and happy thoughts. It's quick and easy, and it might just make all the difference in the world. Even if you don't do the cards, at least give the smile. A mom who's feeling the love is going to be able to do a better job in her parenting work, and have kids who in turn are nicer~ and the ripples of happiness continue out into the world.
So, what do you think?
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Whatever you do, go out and spread some happiness today!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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