Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Graduate

**Side Note -- this is my 500th blog post!  Holy Smokes!!**

This week my oldest son graduated from high school. It was an insanely proud parenting moment for me, as I'm sure it was for the 202 other kids that graduated with him.

I'm not sure I'm entirely ready for this new transition in his life; dependence to independence. I also know that I have already written a letter or two to my son about this here, but, I was writing this on Thursday morning before his commencement, so apparently I still have more to say.


I can't believe that soon I will be standing there watching you walk across a stage to be handed your high school diploma. You've worked so hard to get to this point and I'm so proud of you. You began this life as a beautiful baby boy but grew up to be a handsome young man. Today is your day to shine. I hope you know how much I love you; I can never say it enough. I'm glad that we have the mother & son relationship that is very rare and far between, and that you know you can trust me and talk to me about anything.

As you read this, you should know that words are pretty inaccurate to describe how I'm feeling right now.I see my window of influence is closing and it will soon be time for you to stand strong and make your own footprints in this world. It seems like we’ve been preparing for this day since you first learned to walk. I remember the day when you took your first steps–one, two, three, four–baby steps, and then you fell into my arms. And I scooped you up and we laughed and laughed because these were your first steps to independence. It seems we’ve been heading in that direction ever since.

The world is a tough place to live for everyone, regardless of wealth and status, and it is the people who are kind and caring of others that can make life easier and happier for the people around them. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, never lose that wonderful part of you.

You are blessed with natural charisma. People are going to follow you once you discover the depth of your personal power. I suspect you have only scratched the surface so far. You began to feel it on stage and it has been such fun to watch you develop your glorious, funny stage presence. You have talent and charm. A potent combination.

My wish for you is that you stay grounded in the strength and vision you have and don't let insecurity or fear distract you. Stretch your intellectual muscles, open your mind and explore what kind of life and purpose you want and you'll figure it out. But stay positive always. Don't give in, as some people do, to negative judgments of others. Everyone needs your warmth and leadership, even if they can't ask for it.

And now, as the window is closing, I am fearful for what I have not taught you. There is so much to learn and much to look forward to as you begin life on your own. I hope I’ve taught you the most important lessons about life…and ethics…and morality–if not through words, through deeds.

Life is a continuous journey uphill and as you wander through the peaks and the hills and the valleys–I hope you discover wonderful things along the way.

I know you are anxious to go.

But before you set off as a young man with hopes and dreams and passions, I want you to remember that somewhere now, between an adolescent and an adult, beats the strong, steady heart of a beautiful man.

God has blessed you with a good mind, good looks and health, and a good heart. So go forward on your journey Andrew, and do good.I know that you will go far in this life, you deserve the best this world can give you and I know that you will get it. Even though today is the day I have to officially let you go to discover the world on your own, please know that I'll be with you no matter where you go and that I'll be there anytime and anywhere you may need me. You are my heart, my soul, my life, and my world. I love you very much. Thank you for the best 18 years of my life.

Congratulations on your graduation from high school Congratulations on emerging as a fine,honrable young man with such a bright future. Enjoy it with your friends.....and most of all -- be happy.

All my love;

From your over-the-top, unabashedly proud


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sometimes It's Okay To Quit

Here's something that will probably get me kicked out of every successful person's club ever created: Sometimes it's okay to quit.  It's okay to quit  jobs, friends, relationships, hobbies, being an adult (temporarily), and anything else that is exhausting, infuriating, unpleasant, or just not fun.  It's okay to let it go, even if you sometimes have no back up plan......well, except for the job thing maybe. It's probably best to have a back up plan for that if you want to quit your current job.  Because, while quitting paying bills may seem like a good idea, the novelty of that will fade as quick as your electricity when your utilities get cut off.

But as I was saying;  if it is toxic to your mental health, self-esteem, well being, relationship or marriage, ability to properly parent, or anything else that is important to you, then just quit it.  Drop it.  Let it go and move on.

It's like that Shinedown song  says:  Sometimes goodbye is a second chance.

Sometimes when we quit, it gives us the chance to look at things from a new perspective.  We realize how much we have lost....or gained (because there is something to be learned from every situation) from the time we spent on something that deep down we knew was was poison to our souls and negatively affecting our lives.  Letting go of what makes us sad, quitting the things that hurt us opens our eyes to more of what makes us happy.  It allows us to focus on what's good in our lives.  It affords us the opportunity to start over.

It really is okay to quit.  People do it with bad habits all the time.  (Take it from a reformed nail biter).  It's not worth keeping anything around -- people included -- that saps your time and energy, and detracts you from doing the things you should be or want to be doing.

Quitting things that are toxic also opens you up to people and experiences that support your goals and dreams.  It gives you freedom to pursue what your heart is telling you (as long as you can get your head to shut up).  It gives you an inner peace that cannot be bought; and it makes our lives so much better.

If you have someone or something toxic in your life, quit it (or them).  Just let it go.  I know it's easier said than done, but I promise in the end it will totally be worth it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Get To Know Me From These Super Accurate Quizzes

You know those quizzes you see popping up on people's Facebook that look stupid but somehow suck you in to answering the stupid questions and getting some stupid description of yourself?  I may be guilty of answering a few of them from time to time.  I thought that I would answer some that were recommended to me by the fairies or minions that shove them onto my computer screen.  We all know that these quizzes are scientific, well-planned, and highly accurate.  So let's see what they have to say about me.

Which 80s Alt. Group Wrote The Soundtrack Of Your Life?

The soundtrack of your life was written by Siouxsie and the Banshees! You're experimental and so over labels. You like what you like, and won't let anyone judge you for venturing into things that are more popular, or perhaps, highly unusual. You refuse to compromise who you are for approval. Siouxsie and the Banshees' howling vocals, strange lyrics, and solid drumming leave you spellbound.
(I've never even heard of this band -- and it doesn't really sound like something I'd listen to.  "Howling vocals" is not a strong selling point)

Which Iconic Woman Are You?

You are Lucille Ball.  You are the most hilarious person ever. You make us laugh when we want to cry, and always keep us guessing. You have done the impossible and broken records. You are always full of surprises. You keep us smiling no matter what you do.
(Meh, I don't really think I'm that funny.....but the test never lies - lol)

Which Female Literary Character Are You?

You got Jo March. You are someone who is creative, clever, and outspoken.  You are considered the leader of the group who always comes up with the best ideas for things to do. You are thoughtful and caring when it comes to your friends and family.  You have a hot temper that can sometimes get you in trouble.  You are also extremely passionate about the things you love and sharing that with others who don't agree can get you riled up. You love to be around lots of people so you can tell jokes and share stories.

(Now that sounds a little more like me)

Which Strong Female Detective Are You?

Like Broadchurch's Ellie Miller, you're strong, sensitive, and compassionate.  You're able to connect with anyone once you put your mind to it - there's something about you that people just trust.
(I like to think that this sounds like me. I've never seen this show; I may have to check it out)

Which Type of Humor Do You Have?

You have surreal humor.  You have the most absurd sense of humor. You are fascinated by trippy and bizarre things and are always incorporating the most creepy, yet hilarious elements of life into your jokes. Your humor is a mix between dark humor, sarcasm, outrageous comedic brilliance, sexual innuendo and slap stick. You are easily entertained by almost every type of comedy and use all of the crazy experiences in your life to inspire hilarious jokes to cheer anyone up.
(Holy crap, internet quiz!  I think you nailed this one right on the head.)

Which Nickname is Perfect for You?

Look out for the DRAGON! You are a fierce and loyal individual who will protect those you love at any cost! Fiery and passionate, you fly through the night sky like the majestic creature that you are!
(Heck yeah!  From now on, I will only answer to the name Dragon -- that is badass)

Who is Your Game Of Thrones Soulmate?

You got Tyrion Lannister.  When it comes to partners in crime it's brain and not brawn that matter, right?  Like Tyrion, you're sharp as a tack and aren't fooled by anyone.  Have a large glass of wine because you are Tyrion are meant to be buddies for life.
(I LOVE Peter Dinklage!  And as a complete sapiosexual, I totally dig a man with brains)

What Kind of Man Will You Fall in Love With?

*Let me preface this by saying that I am have already found the man I will fall in love with, and after almost 18 years of marriage, this description suites him to almost a T.*

The Alpha Male.  Loyal, passionate and driven, you’re going to fall in love with the consummate alpha male! Not only will he create the life he wants for himself, but he’ll make room for an independent and intelligent woman like you, too! Sure, he’s a bit competitive, but this quality will come in handy when he’s trying to win your heart! He’s out there looking for you to help him shape and conquer the world! Go get him, girl!

What is Your Subconscious Obsessed With?

Your subconscious is obsessed with knowledge! The pictures you have selected suggest that you have one the most curious minds we have ever seen! Your subconscious is always looking for something new to learn, new sights to see, practically anything that would give a nice exercise session to that big brain of yours, and help you advance in life. You are a very passionate and patient person, and that combination helps you to truly immerse yourself in a subject without feeling the need for 'Quick Fixes' or feeling bored. Keep it up, you have a lot to learn! 
(Awesome.  I like to think I'm a pretty smart chick, and am always looking for new things to learn about.)

So do you answer these silly quizzes?  How accurate do you think they are?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Don't Ever Let Anyone Step All Over You

*Bonus points if you can name the song that the title is referring to".

I'm a people-pleaser. I've said it many times before, and I'm sure you'll hear me say it again. I don't like drama. I don't like confrontation. I don't like when people are mad at me. I am an expert at just letting things roll off my back or ignoring someone when they are being rude. I try to be like Taylor Swift and just Shake It Off. I seem to have a high tolerance for other people's bullshit and it takes A LOT to make me angry.

But I do have my limits. I'm human. Just because I keep quiet, or just because I smile, or just because I try to turn uncomfortable situations into a joke and make people laugh, doesn't mean that I'm not angry or sad or disappointed on the inside. I just don't show it because most of the time it wouldn't be productive. 

Sure, it would probably feel good for a minute to just say whatever I'm feeling (which may involve a few four-letter words), but what would it accomplish at the end of the day? Only more drama. More negativity and conflict. Sometimes when I'm feeling more upset than usual, I'll vent to a friend (usually my husband), and then once I get it out, I feel better. 

Lately, though, I find it harder and harder to hold things in. The thread that keeps my filter in place is fraying at an alarming rate. I find myself wondering why I have allowed myself to become a doormat to other people. That they can say or do whatever and I just take it. I can guarantee that if the situations were reversed, they would balk at being treated that way. 

I still say killing with kindness is the best solution, but if that fails... well, let's just say I'll be in the corner sharpening my verbal claws. 

I am woman. Hear me roar.  Raaawwwrrrrr. ;)

**And just because I'm a blog perfectionist, I feel I need to apologize for the lack of continuity in the spacing of this post.  For some reason, it's not spacing the paragraphs properly**

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lifelong Learning

Graduation. From Pre-K to Doctorates, these major milestones have been filling my social media feeds lately. Within these moments, come epiphanies that stick with us. They may even sway us toward a specific direction in our lives. 

As I think about my oldest son, soon to graduate, I think of some of the wisdom I would like to impart to him and his classmates:

1. Just do it. Ulcers never met a procrastinator they didn't like.

2. Speak carefully. You can never take back what comes out of your mouth.

3. Live within your means. It makes a difference.

4. Splurge every once in a while. The memories will be worth it.

5. Laugh and smile. Those wrinkle lines are a sign of a life well lived. 

6. Hydration is key. Reach for the water before the sugar or caffeine.

7. Take a hike. Fresh air and a humbling view can do wonders for the spirit.

8. Choose wisely in people, situations, challenges and words.

9. Listen to someone with experience, even when you don't want to hear it.

10. Be silly. But not obnoxious. 

11. Give a firm handshake. It shows you mean it.

12. For every negative, find twice as many positives.

13. Quality not quantity. Especially time with people you care for greatly.

14. Reveal your vulnerable side to at least one person in the world; the one you trust the most.

15. Make mistakes. You'll never be a lifelong learner otherwise.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I Offer No Apologies For Being a Mediocre Mom

I have my moments. My "I'm a kickass Mom" moments. I cater to my kids' every whim on their birthdays and the first day of school. I go to school parties and sometimes I even volunteer to bring stuff! I do my best to make sure Christmas is a balance of Christian celebration, childhood magic, and wonder. I try like hell not to fall asleep and forget about the ding dang tooth fairy. We go on memorable family vacations, which I document with eleventy thousand pictures.

But day to day, my approach to parenting is somewhat of a "less is more" approach. Some call it mediocrity. Whatever. I offer no apologies for it.

I will not apologize for not entertaining my children every waking minute of the day. It's called imagination. They should learn to use it on occasion.

I will not apologize for NOT taking my children to the amusement park or the zoo or the movie arcade extravaganza every time they have a day off school. We'll do these things sometimes, and they'll be a lot of fun and exciting and special when we do. But sometimes a day off is good for just that...a day OFF.

I will not apologize for occasionally "ignoring" my children while I use the computer or text on my phone. Because most of the time I will give them my undivided attention. It's better they learn that, while they are the center of MY universe, that won't be the case when they enter the great big world of "a whole bunch of other people with agendas all their own who aren't going to heed your beck and call". 

I will not apologize for expecting my children to behave like respectful human beings at home, in school, and in public. When they choose to do otherwise, there will be consequences. I will not rush to their side and blame ill behaviors on peers, teachers, or society in general. They need to learn about taking responsibility and holding oneself accountable. 

I will not apologize for not making a big production out of things my children should be doing anyway. They will be expected to turn in school assignments when they are due as well as make every effort to maintain decent grades. I will encourage them and offer every resource available to support them throughout their education. Their reward for doing these things will be a diploma. I will beam with pride at their accomplishment. When they get a job, the reward for doing said job will be a paycheck. Neither college professors nor future employers will throw a parade in their honor for simply doing what is expected. There is no sense in setting that precedent now.

I will not apologize for making my children do their own school projects. I'll willingly help where help is needed, but I've "been there and done that". And I did it by myself. There was a sense of pride when I turned in projects that were truly mine, and I want them to feel that pride, too. I've done my time at the science fair thankyouverymuch.

I will not apologize for making my children learn to "earn their keep" on occasion. A good work ethic is not going to appear out of thin air.  

I will not apologize for sometimes saying "no" to things even if we can afford them. Because that's a word they need to learn to hear on occasion. And because a lot of the time I'll say "yes". 

I will not apologize for not escorting my children back to their bed when they creep into mine in the middle of the night. I honestly don't believe that I'll look back on these days and say, "I sure do regret all those mornings I woke up to my babies' sweet sleeping faces." This phase will pass. All too soon, it will pass. (Admittedly Ryker just turned 11, but he will sometimes still sneak into my bed or fall asleep with me while watching TV.)

But most of all, I will not apologize for loving my children enough to do all of the above. While it may not work for everyone, and while I am by no means the best parent, I'm doing the best I know how and it's what works for me. It must work for my kids, too. Because I know without a doubt that they go to bed every night knowing they are loved. And that's really all that matters. 

Easy Ways To Be Happy

In the monotony of daily life, chasing after happiness can seem like an endless, really big project. And sometimes, it is. But sometime...