Public Service Announcement

NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER.

NO ONE.

You are not alone in your striving. You are not alone in your grieving. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your joy. You are not alone in wishing you had at arrived at the age you are without your bag of tricks for coping. You are not alone as you wonder if you’re a good parent. You are not alone as you sometimes hate going to your kids games, but you love showing up for them. You are not alone in your loneliness despite being surrounded by loving friends. You are not alone as you grapple with contentment over your body, your image, your worth. You are not alone in wishing you had followed “that one dream” you had for yourself. You are not alone in your regrets. You are not alone in your victories. You are not alone in your defeats. You are not alone in your failures. You are not alone in your success’. You are not alone in wishing you could change faster, grow stronger, become more. You are not alone as you struggle to surface with true gratitude each day. You are NOT alone as you feel that twinge of depression from time to time. You are not alone as you wonder what you’re actually good at. You are not alone in despising going to the grocery store with a bunch of kids. You are not alone in thinking two hours alone in Target is a mini vacation. You are not alone as you wonder if your kids are “normal” or are they living in emotional crazy town with a home address that’s yours. You are not alone as you make another meal that almost no one eats despite starving children across the globe. You are not alone in absolutely abhorring your children’s math homework. You are not alone in hating the winter’s bitter cold. You are not alone in craving a better, more connected marriage. You are not alone in trying to recover that loving feeling. You are not alone in trying to overcome issues that have plagued you since childhood that “should” be long gone by now. You are not alone in loving your children, but loving their bedtime just as much. You are not alone in trying hard to be MORE than you were yesterday….

You are not alone in any corner. Not one.

We are NOT all in this life together, and yet, we are ALL in this life together. And you, my friend, are not alone.

I believe in us and the power to embrace this life knowing we are all…. ALL just genuinely trying our best to make the most of it. Be comforted today. We see you and what we see from one human to another is an amazing person surrendering to what life brings.

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Dear School Cancellation,

Dear School Cancellation Days,

I am truly lucky to have four children. Two boys and two girls. I have known so many people in my life that have struggled to have children of their own so this gift is not lost on me at all. I swear. But, I love school. I love it with every fiber of my being. I love the influence of the teachers in the myriad of ways that they speak into my children’s lives. I love the sense of responsibility that’s fostered in them through things like homework and book reports and making their OWN lunches each day (since I apparently don’t know how to put anything “good” in there). I love that they get to expand their mind through art and music and science. I love watching their interpersonal relationships grow through recess and lunch, albeit twenty minutes short. I love school from drop off to pick up…..

Can I just say to you, school cancellation day, that you are cramping my style man. The very week I decided to paint my entire main level floors white you go and give my kids not one but three days home from school. I get it – there’s a negative fifty degree windchill in Minnesota this week, but seriously. Can’t we all just bundle the little love bugs up and send them your way? We have gloves and stuff. And for those that don’t I will personally nominate myself to hand extras out at the door. I am being eaten out of house and home. The snacks are gone. The television is literally fried from over use and is heating our home faster than my furnace can keep up. My voice is hoarse from yelling at them to stay off the floors I’m painting. I mean, come on school, take one for the team here. These kids have things to learn. I have a blog to write and floors to paint. And I’m out of food. Our games are “boooooooooring”. I will say, however, that laundry has been a dream this week since no one seems to think they need to change clothes. There’s been ample hot water since the opportunity to bathe occurs to zero children. But, their teeth are literally falling out for lack of brushing. And apparently reading a book is akin to water boarding.

School, you are a portal to happiness for all of us. You are every mother’s break. You give us time to think and sit and do and grocery shop. Four children home from school for three days means we have digressed to WWA wrestling tryouts and my entire basement has become an obstacle course. Not that I mind and all it’s just that if I have to put out one more fight I’m gonna go cra-cra or body slam them myself.

These floors are getting painted come Hell or high water, but they are in the direct path to the kitchen. At least by now there’s no more food so the traffic has slowed dramatically. I would like to request that the powers that be consult the mother’s far and wide before you go swiping right on whether or not those educational doors open.

Sincerely,

Mother of The Year (with beautiful white-painted floors and no more food)

Take Your Time

I find it amazing that the older I get the less I seem to completely understand, but the more I am content with that. I remember when I was in my twenties and thought I knew enough to run a freakin country. Ignorance was bliss… or was it (for the people around me)? As a parent of four children now the days are so busy that I feel like I am managing a small country, but I’m no expert. My children can assure you of that. I am routinely reminded by my darlings that I just “don’t get it” as I petition for an explanation on any number of grievances. Turns out that the fact that I trump them in age and experiences by a mile seems to hold little weight with them because, you know: you just don’t get it Mom (insert massive eyeroll from child here and say “mom” with extra emphasis).

I don’t get why recovery takes a painstakingly long time. I mean, if we are lucky enough to have the desire to change in any given area shouldn’t that desire alone catapult us into the motherland of wholeness? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. As it turns out the desire to change  is just the light of the match. The candle burning sloooooooowly is the process of change.

I’ve battled an eating disorder for twenty plus years. Tears well up in my eyes as I write that fact. That’s a long time. A lot of disorder. A ton of missed moments. A long stent of turmoil. I’m not completely sure why, but recently and by the unending grace of God the match of desire was lit in me to change…. to find freedom. But, the slow pace of recovery leaves me dumbfounded and frustrated at times.

I am a product of the Gen X generation. I saw mixed tapes turn to CD’s and “boom boxes” become an iPod. I saw the internet come to be of wide use and I was here before email was a thing. I feel a little bit lucky like that. I’ve seen a massive evolution in technology and a shift so sweeping in our culture that it’s actually downright fascinating how much brilliance is out there. We’ve seen so much technological advancement so rapidly that I think we often place the same level of pressure on ourselves. If you want to be something “Just Do It”…. If you want a hot meal just microwave it. However, when it comes to change in any given area, please, cut yourself some slack. There is no such thing as Javascript or an iOS update that you can “click” on to enact the change you’re wanting to see. Just sit back for a second and be grateful that you have the desire present. Then walk slowly forward. One step at a time. With unending grace for yourself. You’ll get there. We’ll change. It just takes time. It just takes time. It just. takes. time.

I light my favorite candle almost every morning. I let it burn all day long then snuffing it out at night because it’s time to rest and I don’t want to burn the house down. But, I light her up again the next morning and let her fragrance fill my home and it brings me comfort. Now, if that’s not an analogy for life and change I don’t know what is.

I believe in us and the power to slow down, cut ourselves some slack and hope expectantly in the change that will come with time.

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Beauty And The Beach

I sit on the Beach in the warm Florida sun with the breeze on my face, salt in the air, and the sound of waves crashing just 20 feet away from me. I can taste the salt in the air and smell the suntan lotion and my senses tell me I am home. This is Heaven for me. I am a Cocoa Beach native and no matter where I live in the world this will always be my true home. This is where my heart feels most content. A surge of peace takes over me at the beach. A gentleness takes over my pulse.

I can hear the laughter of my children. I can hear them hollering to one another make-believe scenarios like “getting away from robbers” and mermaids coming ashore as they body surf the cresting waves and I smile. I know I am gifting them with the same experience that made up nearly every day of my childhood. My heart fills with deep contentment. I could sit there all day. I could sit there all day as we chase the sun down out of the sky.

I sit there glued to my chair. I’m glued for many reasons. I sit locked in because I relish in the feelings of peacefulness and the symphony of pleasant sounds that surround me. Not a wandering crab or a flock of birds is lost on me. This beach is to me the most beautiful haven on the planet.  I also sit locked to my chair because of deep-rooted insecurity. If I get up and stroll to the shore “what will others think when they see my body and this swimsuit” I wonder. How can a place that is dripping with a sense of home also be welcome to my entrenched body image issues and shame over my appearance? How can a negative internal narrative show up for a forty year old mother of four? Aren’t we over this stupidity by now? It’s a mystery to me how I can feel such a sense of peace, but simultaneously be glued to a beach chair so no one sees my body. How can I feel such joy and yet choose to be locked down to a stupid striped chair so that I don’t feel the rejection I’m projecting from my neighboring beach go-er … whom I don’t even know. I skip out on the fun with my children because I’d rather stay tied to my chair then give a passer by the opportunity to think I look “fat”. I full-blown lie and tell my kids “mom just loves to get a suntan” when I refuse their request to come play. The truth is mom is deeply insecure in her own skin and simply cannot get up. Won’t get up. I decline their request to show up at the water’s edge because it’s too cold I tell them. The truth is my negative internal dialogue is robbing me of the ability to show up for them with any level of participation.

I hate this scenario. I hate how my self-doubt sits on my chest like a beached whale. I hate that I am choosing to skip out on writing notes in the sand and building castles with motes and drawbridges. I hate that I opt out of a stroll to collect shells because I fear the opinion of people watchers that are all foreign to me and nowhere near my inner circle of friends. I hate that I let shame and insecurity rob me of memories to be made. I hate that I let my insecurity be bigger than my strength and resolve to show up for them. The barrier to my full, true joy is that I give a sh*$ what other people think of me instead of being a badass mom with four children having a little fun while centering myself in presence.

This has to change. Insecurity, humiliation and a negative internal dialogue are not things that we deliberately pack in the bag of sand toys. Yet they show up in full force.

I love watching the tide. It comes and goes at a rhythmic pace. As does our positive and negative narrative running through us. Unlike the tide however we have control over our thoughts and the freedom they allow us. We have to deliberately attack our negativity with life-giving thoughts that unlock confidence and resolve to get up out of a chair and care not what the world sees apart from a mom engaging wholeheartedly with her children. You might be thinking that I’m really glued to the chair because of simple vanity. I assure you that’s not the case. We live in a culture that values thinness and rewards it with compliments and we brutally judge one another on the daily. We live in a body centric environment and have raised one another to think that thin is beautiful and anything outside of that needs to be reigned in. In order to be counter-culturalists we have to choose to value who we are on the inside over what we show or see on the outside. This takes effort as we go against the tide of our society. But it’s a fight to the death of the joy-robbing, presence stealing moments like these.

I believe in us and the power to go against the tide, to get up out of our chairs, to inhale freedom and to exhale presence. Now, I have a mermaid to rescue…..

Finding Joy

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Finding joy is sometimes akin to a kid picking through their spaghetti dinner and finding the one, minuscule, green fleck of parsley and mistaking it for lettuce. It’s hidden sometimes beneath the noise of our day-to-day lives.

The clamoring sound of the obligations in our day-to-day call desperately for our attention. We have to slow down, catch our breath for just a moment and count our blessings. Literally count them. Acknowledge them. Shine a light on them as if they were the star of the show. Our days are FILLED with competing emotions. We can name our to-do lists like a bunch of bosses. But can we find our daily silver lining? I suppose that’s what the gratitude movement is all about. It’s a charge to grind life to a halt just long enough to see the concentration of its goodness.

When we see something we have to say something. We have to train our minds to connect with our hearts and to then feel the pleasures of this one, beautiful life. Joy is found in simply lighting your favorite candle or watering your stupid huge collection of houseplants. Joy is found in deliberately sipping your hot coffee slow. Joy is the smell of freshly mopped floors. Joy is watching the sunrise and taking in its beauty. Joy is listening for that fleeting moment to the laughter of a child. Joy is scoring that clearance item at the end of the Target aisle. Joy is your favorite song popping on the radio in that seventeenth car ride of the day. It’s a moment found mixed with the pleasure of LIVING. It’s everywhere you want to be. Acknowledging the joy-filled moments strengthens our resolve to withstand the chaos of our days. It softens our hearts and preps us to weather the storms.

Slow down. Slow way down. The hustle and grind of life will wait for you as you pick through the moments and name the joy. Life is full of them. It takes a deliberate attempt to find them and call them to the forefront. It just does. It requires a choice and a cultivated practice to see the silver lining.

I believe in us and the power to harness joy.

Mother Of The Year

I’m gonna keep this one short and sweet. Today, I just want to share that I am clearly killing it in all things parenting! No really, Mother Of The Year right here you guys. I’ll prove it…..

I have four beautiful children. They all came into this world packing a punch as each of them weighed around nine pounds or more with my “baby” tipping the scale at 10.8 pounds. They barreled down the hatch in the short span of five years. I’m not sure how to describe that level of stellar planning. But, I’ll tell you this: My house is not quiet. Ever. The laundry is never done. Ne-ver. I clean seventy-two million times a day. There is never a meal that appeases everyone at the same time except cereal. I find snack bags intended only for school hidden in the darndest places. Someone outgrows their shoes once a week it seems. I spend my entire week carpooling to sports practices, sometimes three in one night. And the homework…. oh the homework. My entire weekend is consumed with games that all seem to occur within five minutes of one another at precisely opposite venues. They play games with one another. Prank one another. And fight like cats and dogs. They leave wet towels all over kingdom come and toys out from one end of the yard to another. My girls are super crafty which means I can never find my tape or scissors. Their favorite medium is slime (which I am 100% so over!). They watch tutorials on braiding hair and fight over who used the hairbrush last because it’s nowhere to be found. My boys watch random football games together on You Tube so they can learn a thing or two (They are 6 and 10). They are four years apart, but wear the same size clothing. Their favorite word is undoubtedly any variation that describes a fart or uses a body part as a joke.  Someone is always hungry, but unfortunately there is “never” anything “good” to eat around here…. except the snacks I find hidden. My husband is super loving and works his butt off. Thank God for him for many reasons, but he pretty much rules the roost when it comes to homework. I promise I’m smart, but apparently I’m not “smarter than a 5th grader”.

All that said, life is beautiful. And chaotic. And fun. And frustrating. And mesmerizing. And endearing. And challenging. And worth every second…. ESPECIALLY when your children come from grandma’s house having made the MOST beautiful gingerbread houses you ever did see….IMG_7569.jpg

What’s that? You need a closer look?

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I TOLD you I am killing it as a parent. Proved it right there!

Happy Holidays!

 

My Letter To Life

Dear Life,

You are a mixed bag aren’t you? You are an inevitable juxtaposition between joys and pains, trials and tribulations, success’ and failures. I’ve come to learn in this little life of mine that I have fewer answers than questions. But what I do know is that we all struggle, at times, with things great and small. And what I firmly believe is that we have the fortitude to face and to come through courageously whatever you throw at us. Experiences can be so very hard no matter what geographic region you live in or the privilege that you bear. This life is everything I ever hoped for and all I wish I could escape from at times. Parenting is no joke… Emotional GPS navigational system for this area please. Marriage is not for the faint of heart…. I’d genuinely appreciate a manual for this one as well. Maintaining our own personal self-worth is a feat all its own… Feel free to distribute the “I feel great” pills for this one anytime now! What’s that? No GPS or manual or swath of feel good pills? Awesome. So the blind leads the blind I’m gathering.

I am a middle-aged mother of four children. The precious bundle of children you’ve given me wrap my heart like a hug and make me want to bash my head in at times. I am a wife of one. I’m fifteen and a half years into this institution of marriage and it just will not quit evolving like a ferris wheel ride that never ends. I am an overcomer of many, many things and a striver of perfection. The latter has been my Achilles heel. The former my crowning glory.

I’ve lived on a steady diet of self-deprecation as if I was addicted to the act of comparing myself to the next guy. I was so given to the comparison of others that I nursed a 25 year Eating Disorder to hone others’ perception of me. It’s as if my ED was my roommate that never cleaned and never left the apartment. It has gotten to the point where it just stinks and takes up valuable space and I am SO OVER IT MAN. I took the bait of an ED that nearly ravished me. This bait is no worm on a hook. It’s a tub of piranhas and you get your ass pushed in the tub by this thing. I have absolutely hated this experience, but I am softened to the weight of a cloud as I realize that God came for me. He lifted me out of this horrendous tub of pure death. I still have many things to learn, but I’m choosing to wave my hands wildly in the air admitting my struggle. I’m choosing to heal out loud.

Life, you are beautiful and unique and whole. I have a history of fantastic experiences that remind me of that everyday. To be honest though, most often I feel like a toddler wearing her moms high heels or like I’m wearing clown makeup at the White House.

My wholehearted prayer is that I would stay awake to your greatness. I would hear the call to enjoy what I have, hold loosely what I don’t have, and harness the contentment of the now and not yet. I want to see my neighbor. I want to raise my children as kind human beings full of purpose. I want to notice the hurting, see the real beauty this planet displays, and possibly mend a wound with my words. I want to eat the cake and savor it.

We have the power to change the course of our lives. The magic lies right inside of our will. You’ve taught me so far that if we enact our will and get inside the ring to fight for ourselves mountains move. And when they move the view is breathtaking.

We truly are all running a marathon here.

Life, I’ll meet you at the starting line. Again.

Sincerely,

Yours

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