Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Perfectly Imperfect

Happy New Year Everyone! I have had a lot of thoughts in my head and just haven't had the time or the organization to write them down. So now that I do... here you go!
Post 1 of 2019.
If you are a mom like me, I don't tend to be in a lot of photos.... the reasoning is two-fold, I am very critical of myself and I am usually the one taking all the photos. I am not a huge selfie taker, although I have been known to try. I don't have the right angle most of the time and I am not techy enough to figure out filters. But then again, is using a filter really showing the real me?!
Just to be silly I took a selfie in my bedroom Christmas morning with an unmade bed, messy bed head, glasses and leftover Christmas Eve Makeup-  I posted this photo amongst 30 other photos of Christmas- definitely not my most favorite photo, but there was something I did like about it... but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Would I make it my profile picture.... probably not unless there was some sort of temporary au-nautral challenge. hahaha.. Never did I think out of 30 photos posted, stuck somewhere in the middle  it would  be the one that got the most likes and attention. Very unexpected.
When I was a kid I was a total HAM! I loved the camera, I loved to smile, I loved to be silly. I still love to smile, but not when a camera is shoved in my face!
With age and I am sure this is like most people, our life experiences, media, others opinions of us or what we think we should look like, act like and perform like, harden, we loose that sense of freedom and self confidence and some of us develop camera shyness! Whether it be aging, wrinkles, gaining weight, life tradgedies, some sadness behind our eyes,not enough sleep or just being very skeptical, critical or wanting to avoid some sort of judgement! We practice this camera shyness more often than we need to!
Do I need to be so critical of myself, probably not! I am my own worst critic and I am sure that others are not judging me to the extent that I judge myself. I need to relax more, smile more, enjoy more and find that inner HAM that once was and tune into her joy, happiness, fun and just go with life's flow. Accept the things I can't change, age with grace - take care of my body, love myself.... and on and on.
I was recently asked to be part of a promotional video for Paladin Sports... My first idea was to say I was busy. I don't really feel comfortable being in front of the camera, I immediately think I am not as beautiful as the of the other ladies asked - and I remembered that God sees all of our beauty... it isn't always on the outside at first glance, but shines on the outside when we reflect our inner beauty.
I know in my heart I am beautiful, kind, loving, caring, considerate- I try to put everyone else first, I am beautiful by God's mercy and grace and that does reflect on my outside but seems to crawl in a shell like our tortoise Mario when I am asked to show it!  I may not have the perfect body the perfect hair the perfect skin- but I am perfectly imperfect.... and that is ok. It is what makes me unique and should make me love myself even more.
My goal for 2019 is to enjoy more camera time, make more memories, smile behind my eyes and not just for a pose. To be happier to just be me. If more of us were happy with ourselves the way we are we wouldn't lose so much time being unhappy trying to be like someone else who God never intended us to be.
I am kind I am loving, I am caring and considerate.. .these are all traits of me to other people, I need to practice more of these traits with myself. I am going to start by making a poster collage of 10-12 pictures that I like of me- ones that make me smile immediately just like the photo-something to look at and reflect on everyday... a way to remind me to smile, to find that inner child, inner happiness and reflect it in my eyes, in my smile and in my reflection on a daily basis, through the good and evil, the easy and the hard days.
Take time today to write down your goals, to write down your best features and to take a little more of your kid self and re-create it! If you need a constant reminder like I do- make a visual boost for yourself. You will be glad you did. Afterall you are made in the image and likeness of God himself... who are we to question that!

Actually, no one is perfect – apart from Jesus. But God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son to die for us (John 3:16). Therefore God must love imperfect people. In fact, ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).

Thursday, August 23, 2018

To sleep or not to sleep, what a hard question!

Disclaimer, this is kind of long! However I have come to the conclusion after listening to a fellow author, that I need to just state that I am writing for me. It is my therapy. If someone reads it great, if no one does great, If someone relates to me great, if they critique the heck out of me great. It is first and foremost for me. If you continue on enjoy and I hope that if you relate in some way it helps you get through something in your life. As woman we tend to feel we have to portray this persona where we have it all put together, we can carry the weight of the world on our shoulders not only for us but everyone else and look good doing it! Girlfriend, I am here to tell you we all have a lot of the same struggles and insecurities and a little support from our equally hot mess friends can go a long way! Our life didn’t come with an instruction manual so get out there and be you. Share your experiences and put others minds at ease with what self-talk is going on in their head.
I have been struggling for the last 3 weeks on whether our almost 13 year old dog Chopper should be put to sleep at the Vet. He was diagnosed with cancer over 3 years ago now. I lost a golden retriever to cancer when I was growing up and so I never really thought our Chopper would live for 3 years. I knew someday would be the day or the time that we would have to make these decisions but never really knew when. This is the dog Steve and I got the year after we were married, our first official "being" that we were responsible for together in our adult lives. It was something that had many emotions attached to it. Chopper was a trooper! He had been through a lot of stuff! He has always been a happy dog! No matter what he seemed to always look at you with a smile on his face. Even when you scolded him, when he ate our leather couch after a Superbowl party one time - I swear someone spilled something on it, Steve begged to differ and just said he was bored. At any rate, he got in trouble and was still happy. The time Steve went out of town for a weekend, Paxton was probably only 1-2 years old. There was one of his stuffed animals on mine and Steve’s bed and Chopper picked it up and started playing with it. This didn't sit with Tracker so well and he attacked him. Long story short he actually bit off part of his ear. I doctored it up, but I will tell you if the people who bought our house ever looked with a black light at the walls in our hallway... not sure what they would think, I scrubbed walls for 2 days. Still missing a piece of ear to me equals pain... result happy looking dog! We moved into our new home over 4 years ago and were not here too long when the horse Jasper we inherited with the house was not all to happy when our herding Catahoula nipped at his heels and decided kicking would show him. Oh yes poor Chopper' s side was skinned wide open. I bandaged and doctored that thing for weeks... never once did he seem like he was hurting... happy dog. About the time the thing totally healed (and for those of you who ever incur a pet injury of this magnitude, organic raw honey and melaluca (tea tree oil) works wonders bandaged with an ace bandage to keep the dirt out)- his scar was barely noticeable.  To our detriment, Steve shut one of the fence gates not realizing Chopper was coming out with him and skinned open his side again... yep, same side different location! I couldn't make his stuff up. No problem, happy dog! Looking back on it I wish that I was able to handle pain and life as carefree and lackadaisical as this dog! How unfair.
Even the last 3 weeks of his life where he had his up and down days- the awful day where he slid around the tile and fell on his face a few time,  I was near ready to take him to the Vet and Steve and Paxton begged me not to. We had our difference in opinion on whether we were killing the dog or we were doing what God entrusted us to do which is have dominion over the decisions of our animals. I clearly saw he was in pain and the boys clearly saw he was still eating, getting up on his own (most of the time) and hanging in the kitchen for treats. Even the day he died he walked around our whole yard, laid down by the horses for a bit, sat next to the chicken coop, even messed with the tortoise through the fence a little. Even though he slept most of the day, often need help getting up and when he couldn't on his own and we weren't around unable to control going to the bathroom just wherever he was lying. He became super skinny, completely picky on what he ate and sometimes laid in the same spot for hours upon hours. Still having the happy smile on his face, begging for treats as he always did at the pantry door. It was so hard to decide if I was making the right decision based off of what I thought of his pain level and whether or not his quality of life was worth ending or if he still had some life in him.
We went back and forth as a family on what to do this was the hardest decision I had to make as an adult caregiver in my whole life. How do you decide to end a pet’s life? Rewind a few years, we did have to make the decision to have a horse put to sleep- it was Paxton's amazing horse Lady, and she had Colic all night and by the time we discovered her in the morning it was too late, she had rolled all night with that upset stomach. For those of you who are not familiar with horses, they don't lie down for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, their stomach are too long and big, they don’t sit right for their size and things get bunched up inside. When they lay and roll they end up twisting their stomach and it doesn't bounce back to its normal shape. Horses actually sleep standing up. We couldn't get her to get up or stay up and the Vet who came out highly suggested we put her down because she was at the point of no return to health, but who knows how a long painful death that you could clearly see, this was an emergency situation and the best decision we all felt for her. It is hard to ignore 1000 lb helpless animal lying in the middle of my yard.
With Chopper and his ups and downs in a few weeks’ time, I confess I prayed every night over him when I went to bed that he just wouldn’t be awake when I woke up! Morbid sounding I am sure, however I truly felt that I somehow wanted to communicate to him that although he didn’t act like he was suffering because he always seemed like a happy dog, that we loved him and he had given our family everything it needed in the long season he was here and it was ok to move on to a better place and be free. He didn’t ever look too sad or sick. Maybe that was his way of protecting us from any deep hurt of seeing him struggle more than he was letting on. I want to say I will never know if I made the right decision hanging onto him for those last 3 weeks before he died which I thought seemed peacefully on his own, in our home. But I am glad that my boys talked me out of the decision to end Chopper’s life sooner than he did. I wanted to fix it, I wanted him to be free, I wanted him to struggle no more. The few weeks he was here made us appreciate him more and what he has contributed to our lives. My son says he was the glue of the family. He made everyone happy; he comforted him when he was sad. I remember when my mom died he laid in the room she was in every day for weeks.
I think pets do go to Heaven, especially ones like Chopper, who love unconditionally, embrace their environment and never let anything including pain and struggles wipe the smile from their face. They were born to live this life, to be a friend, a companion, a listener, they don’t argue with us, they are a pick me up when we are down and here to celebrate with us when we are happy! As a friend told me “dogs are sent here to show us the love of Jesus, they forgive and wipe the slate clean never looking back, and they listen and are there in times of despair and in time of rejoicing. They don’t live long because they are pure and don’t need to learn the lessons that we as broken humans do”… thanks Katie.
I am not sure everyone thinks pets go to Heaven, in fact some theologian’s will argue they do not, but I believe that whether they do or do not it is a good form of practice to just believe that they do. It gives us a sense of encouragement that they’re here while they need to be and we will see them again in the future. Friends can come and go, relationships can change, and people can be in your life for short periods of time. Today I am forever grateful for Chopper. I am grateful for his undeniable happiness in this life, for his demeanor which could turn the crappiest of days into a lighter moment just by his dopy smile. Happy Dog he was and I truly believe he has helped form the person I have become in his happy dog way.
If you are struggling with the decision with having your pet put to sleep I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think it is individual decision and what is right for your family and your pet’s situation. Be strong and go forward as you need, not second guessing or regretting what you choose. God gave us dominion over animals in Genesis 1. I believe this includes making the right decisions for their care.
Rest in Peace my dear Chopper… I look forward to playing tug of war with you again someday.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Even Fish Killers Must Embrace Grace

So not sure how many of you mamas are like me, but sometimes my “to do” list is 2 pages long, double-sided college ruled!  Who in their right mind thinks that they can accomplish that in a week sometimes let alone a day. But like the bulk of us, we try, we push, we stress, we perform like we can shove it all in. Having a job like mine where you are constantly on the go, your day could change from one minute to the next depending on your client needs, or whatever else may be thrown you way. It is the negative beauty, I call it working for yourself with a flexible schedule… most often I say I work for myself which in essence is true, but I am delegated and obligated by the needs of my clients, who essentially are the ones who pay my bills, so I do my best to always be able to jump at the spur of a moment if necessary.
When you have a long list of things to accomplish, sometimes things get put off for a later date, the end of the list or get rolled to the next day, and the next and the next… you get the picture. One of these things is cleaning out the fish tank. Is it a hard job? Not really, it is just often inconvenient at times, and time consuming. You have to vacuum the rock, drain some water, condition and replace the water… then when your vacuum breaks and you have to go buy a new one that adds to your list of “to do” which  I said I try to prioritize, try being the key word. I put buying the new aquarium vacuum off until I had enough time to make it to a pet store to purchase. Finally this week I was able to take the time to swing into Petco… where the clerk convinced me to buy the more expensive vacuum that is automatic and hooks up to your sink and vacuums, removes old water and can be refilled automatically verses the manual one where you have to pump it out and refill the tank with buckets of water.  Of course they were out of them. Insert eye roll here, story of my life. So I purchased the manual one just in case and ordered the sink one from Amazon Prime. I waited until Friday when it came to try it out before opening the manual one, because if you are anything like me you want to save money and if the sink contraption was as amazing as the lady said, you would definitely return the manual one for a refund. Who wants to spend money twice right?
Friday came and I was so excited to open the box and get started, yes me who likes to put cleaning the fish tank off because it is somewhat inconvenient! After busting open the package, you know these things are never consumer  friendly, the hard plastic coating that doesn’t really cut well with normal kitchen scissors, if you try using a knife you pray you don’t slice your hand open in the process… After struggling with the opening for 5 minutes finally success! Next step, hook the attachment up to the faucet and make sure the 50 foot cord reaches to the tank…hmmm FAIL! Why because the attachment is nowhere near compatible with your fancy pull out faucet.. well shoot, onto the bathroom, then the garage sink, then the other bathroom to find out to your dismay that the darn Amazing faucet  vacuum that you just spent $45 on from Amazon (by the way it was $79 at Petco)  is not compatible with a single faucet in your entire house… and now you have to go through the hassle of returning it! UGH you just want to scream right then and there, and between you and me I just might have.
So my time saving dream is crushed and I reluctantly open up the manual vacuum that I purchased just in case but secretly planned to return because I wouldn’t need it. The thing of course isn’t put together so then I have to cut the tubing, put it together and get started… but don’t really read the directions and to my dismay it isn’t suctioning like it should. After getting frustrated for what is like the 3rd time since opening my time saving package… I realize that I didn’t put the suction ball on the other two ends the right way. UGH! Yet again! After trying to suction it so many times, the tubing was suctioned enough that pulling it apart to put it back together the right way…wasn’t working- this is the point where taking the time to write about it now seems super amusing, however at the time my frustration was so over the top I probably could have exploded, I may have muttered a few not so nice words under my breath and probably could have thrown the thing across the room if I wasn’t trying my best not to break it! After finally getting through my struggle I felt like I did a great job of getting the tank cleaned, the new water conditioned and looking back to its normal self.
Fast forward to the next morning. Steve was out of town and I had to get Paxton up early for baseball practice. I walk out of my room and over to the tank to feed the fish… a normal morning routine…except with a quick glance of the tank a 3 African Cichlids are dead, why am I pointing out the kind of fish we have? Well because they are not $2 fish from Wal-Mart- most of these types of fish tend to be $30-$75 apiece and sometimes even more depending on their size! Ouch! Immediately my inner guilt crept up and I burst into tears! Not only did I kill 3 fish I wasted a bunch of money! How did this happen? I had absolutely no ill intention; I was just trying to make their home cleaner! It had been dirty for a while and I surly stirred up too much crud! Seriously all 3 of them! What in the world! I am an unfit pet owner, a fish killer and 8 year old dream killer. I apologized profusely over and over again to Paxton that I was sooo sorry! The women who brings her kid and hubby’s favorite chicken, Floppy,  into her bathtub for over 2 weeks because she was hurt…the nurturer  who  for a few weeks now has have been battling the decision to sleep or not to sleep with our 13 year old cancer ridden dog, Chopper. Picking up after his accidents, picking him up off the floor when he falls and can’t get up on his own, feeding him special things just so he would eat- it has been a 3 week struggle of hanging on or preserving his quality of life- this is definitely another story for another time. Me, the dog mom who sometimes wakes up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to let the other dog Tracker out to pee, gives him special medicine for allergies. It however made me cry even harder that I killed 3 fish, what if it was one of our other animals!  As a mama I am protective of everything we have. I am responsible for over 20 animals and I just allowed 3 in my watch perish… and why? Because cleaning the fish tank was an inconvenience or burden sometimes as it just didn’t fit in my priority schedule.. I felt super low..I beat myself up with my words and then I remembered.. I am human I make mistakes… I am good in so many ways and the self-talk turned to a more positive note. Learn from this I told myself. Will I return to feeling guilty or play it over and over in my head what I should have, could have or needed to do differently, you bet I probably will but my priority is to ask forgiveness and believe I already have been given it, by the poor fish, my son, my husband, God and of course, myself.
And then I remembered;  For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. – Titus 2:11.
 I am saved. I am forgiven, I am loved. I embrace the Grace that I am given.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Painting Portraits for the Soul

Last minute plans to accompany my friend last night to a Wine and Design, paint and sip session. I have always said that I don't have a drawing or painting bone in my body and if I ever did attend one of these sessions I would probably just drink while everyone else painted. Or if I did paint it would more than likely end up in a drawer at most hanging in my closet! 
I ventured out last night and decided to really try it. It was definitely a cute image to paint and in my head I contemplated that if it did turn out remotely close to being decent I would hang it in my hallway on the empty nail next to my coat rack... I have been meaning to buy something to put in that spot every since I took the Christmas decoration down off the now empty nail at the end of January... no judging.. I got busy and in my opinion the Christmas season is just too short anyhow. 
Anyway it sure was an intense evening and I thought we would definitely have a lot more time to sip and snack then we did... we were so engrossed in the task of painting these canvases that we rarely spoke many words to each other. One thing I did hear when someone spoke and this was more often then not as the 2 + hours of painting occurred, was how many of the 15 women that were there, including myself, praised someone else's progress, yet put down their own. Phrases, like "oh wow that looks great" " I wished my flowers looked as good as yours" "your painting is definitely the best",  "wow yours is pretty, I wished I could paint like you", "I could maybe give this to my mom,  like when I was in school" "I suck at painting". You get my gist! 
We are always our own worst critic! So funny how we perceive ourselves compared to what others truly think of us and how truly non-judgmental and supportive of others most people really are! 
Not only did all the ladies I encountered paint good looking art, 11/15 of them had never came to one of these painting classes before! 
How amazing to see how you can really do something when you put your mind to it and with a little instruction, even if you at first had your doubts. Also, from this it was plain for me to see that each woman no matter how critical of their own piece of art work, was the first to cheer on their friend  and or compliment the other women there without blinking an eye. Believe me, I walked away with more than a canvas. 
The end results concluded that we are all unique individuals with different tastes, different likes and different talents yet a little paint and fellowship brought us all a little encouragement and compliments for a fun night out, that some may remember for a long time to come.
"you is smart" "you is kind""you is important"
Embrace your journey in life, none of us are handed the same one. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, none of us are perfect, no matter how someone looks on the surface, we all have some insecurities inside and probably more insecurities than we share with others. Stop negative talking yourself. Be the best YOU! Flaws make us human- let everything else go and enjoy YOUR life, you were only assigned one. 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. -Psalms 139:14

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Solved Case of the Underwear Bandit

Seriously moms, I know that you have been here. Maybe not the exact same situation but the time where you are multitasking, moving from room to room in your house and putting things back where they belong... except a couple days later you come up empty handed on what you thought you put in that drawer... yep you guessed it... a call from your kid.. "mom,  where are all my underwear?" And I know you know what I am talking about when your face curls up in a what do you mean where are your underwear, they are in your drawer, duh kind of way... but out loud you say " I am coming" in a sing songy but irritated voice, when in your head you think if I get all the way in there in they are in his drawer under something else he is going to be in big trouble when I find them. Because as we all know kids are notorious for doing such a good job looking for things. lol. But you go in there and nothing! HMMM!
 I remember washing them on Sunday, it is only Tuesday, how could you have wore 6 pairs of underwear already plus the clean ones, how could this be? Where did they go? So you frantically feel a little disappointed in yourself, cause you know you had them, you look through every drawer, the closet, the couch, the bed, the guestroom, his bathroom, on top of the cabinet in the guest bathroom, the laundry room 3 times, behind the dryer, in all your and your husband's drawers, in the linen closet, the hall closet, on top of the deep freeze in the garage, in the pantry.. all the places you may have stopped to do something along the path to his room to put them away...and then you wonder... did I throw them away? My house isn't that big..where could they possibly go? Did the sock thief upgrade to underwear? Had he gotten bored with his previous thievery? 
Well now what to do? As I got more frustrated with myself and let the underwear bandit consume my thoughts and make me feel like a loser for not being organized enough and allowing myself to lose these things, my gosh they are the size of a pea, where or where could they be? After a few hours of looking on and off and rolling ideas around in my head of where in this not so big home they could be... I decided to finally let it go. I washed the 3 pairs I could find so he had clean undies and decided that maybe he just needed new underwear anyway.
The next day while at Target I bought 5 more pairs. Came home still looked for the missing underwear, thinking AH! Now I will find them since I bought more, Nope still nothing. Then Paxton decided these new underwear were horrible... and nothing like his other underwear... that I couldn't find... whose interior tag-less tags could no longer be read, and of course I have no clue the brand in order to buy the same ones... the ones from Target looked similar... but I  do I know for a fact similar looking doesn't always mean comfort. I have bought plenty of things in my day from different food brands to clothes to bras... and let me tell you just because it is labeled the same or looks the same it definitely doesn't always taste or feel the same! So I couldn't even attest otherwise to him. He didn't like the way they felt... back to the store with them I would go.  I was even more frustrated with myself because my fix didn't end up fixing anything it just caused me to consume my thoughts and spend my time still searching for those undies, or that underwear bandit to ring his neck, or whichever came first as well as the time to return the unwanted ones, not that I need an excuse to go to Target, but nonetheless more of my time would be consumed.
Leaving for a trip to the cabin Friday I had a lot of errands to do. As I met up with a friend for a sweatshirt she had borrowed, we shared similar underwear stories. She also could not find her son's underwear and knew that she had washed them as well.  Now what are the odds? She has two sons and only one of theirs were missing... hmmm... Is that underwear bandit mobile? Does he visit more than one home like the tooth fairy or do each of us have our own underwear bandit hiding in our house ready to strike at anytime, making us mamas doubt ourselves and steal away our confidence in our multi-tasking abilities. Like me I know she has her hand in many different projects, always trying to do good by others and helping in anyway she can on top of her own needs, her commitment to her family and community and our lists go on and on. And sometimes just sometimes we get overwhelmed, we forgot or we make a mistake...
I left for the mountains knowing I would have to wash underwear or go to Walmart and try another brand. As I unpacked our bags when we arrived Friday night I pulled out all the clothes to put in the drawers and hang in the closets and pulled out underwear one by one by one until I totaled 9 pairs. Of course my first thought was I didn't put them in there Paxton must have. "Mom", he insisted "I did not pack those."
My mind jumped to Did I put those in there? And why?, we weren't leaving until Friday and I knew he would need them for the week. What was I thinking? I really just wasted 3 days worrying about whether or not I threw away underwear, since I couldn't possibly find them in any other crevice in our home, and they were in his overnight bag? Did I look in there? Why would I have, I wouldn't possibly have put them there, he would need them.. 
Negative self talk that is what we do, always blaming ourselves for things instead of giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt, we do a lot of things! We are bound to make mistakes, and seriously this wasn't even a major one... no one got hurt, nothing broke, I didn't wreck my car or even forget someone's special day, I misplaced some underwear temporarily... Give yourself a break I said, slow down, enjoy things, let go of other things... 
Sometimes we are so busy trying to do it all, make it all, be it all, fix it all, that we forget to stop and ENJOY IT ALL~
Are you overwhelmed with all that life throws you, with everything that you are committed to do? Do you need to find rest, relax and really take the time to enjoy it?
Matthew 11:28 says " come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Learn to unclutter your mind and free your self of self-doubt and negative talk.
"Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
When you are in doubt of yourself or your abilities remember
 "God is for you, He says you are a masterpiece created by him to do good things already planned for you." Ephesians 2:10
Remember, you are not alone, we all beat ourselves up.. be kind to yourself, love yourself and slow down and enjoy what you do have.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The lightbulb thief

I am guilty. Yes you heard me. Guilty of grooming my child to be entitled.I think they really do think money grows on trees and that it is plentiful all the time and that electricity and water are just a given.  I know that it isn't something I have done on purpose, however kids these days have a much greater sense of this than I did when I was a kid.  I wore hand me down clothes, got hand me down toys, bikes etc. I wasn't born into a wealthy family. In fact after my dad passed away and my mom got a 2nd job, raised me on her own, moved to Arizona to be with me when I decided I wasn't moving back to Indiana like ever, I didn't know how much she truly sacrificed for me but I never remember wanting for anything! Her first year in Arizona Real Estate she made more than my dad and her ever made combined when I was growing up. I was shocked to hear that was $52,000... their 2 combined incomes were less than that? I never remember expecting things though or taking things for granted,  I think I was a pretty grateful kid!
I loved my house, we lived on land, had pets, an above ground pool, went on small lake cabin vacations every summer, had been to Disney World twice.... We ate home cooked meals, ate out on mostly special occasions or leftovers from working at my aunt and uncles restaurant.  Now it seems like combined incomes under $100,000 don't get you very far... but it is because of people's spending habits. Eating out is the norm for many families, on the go, Starbucks... traveling... quick easy and convenient, which we all know costs and many kids and families are so used to these things that being stripped of something is not even something that crosses their mind.
I would say 5/7 days a week my family eats at home, something either myself of Steve cooks. Paxton has responsibilities to help take care of our home, animals, he has learned to be respectful of others, especially adults and tends to make good decisions. However I know for a fact that he has grown up where things are handed to him and that can spoil a person, and he is a kid who we are raising to be a good adult, but he is still just a kid.  I have done a great job of instilling that he must do for others, think of others, be kind and considerate and serve as he is called to do.
Sometimes a kid is going to be a kid. He is a boy, he doesn't mind being dirty, we have to remind him to scrub his head in the shower and brush his teeth. Routine or not he tends to be lazy with these things. The biggest complaint that Steve and I have had in the past few months is that he tends to take off his clothes and socks wherever he is when he is ready to take them off. (he sleeps in just undies) Whether that is in the living room watching TV with us or in our room reading a book or in his room all over the floor or draped over something. I will tell you we have 3 laundry baskets in our house that could hold these items for him but somehow they end up all over. After getting frustrated with him on constantly reminding him to pick up his things... he says yes but if he doesn't do it right away... it somehow doesn't get done. This tends to go for almost anything we ask him, if not done right at that moment he tends to forget. And honestly this Mama was tired of having to get frustrated, upset or yell to get my point across. So I came up with a plan. He has a little chunk of spending money he has saved from Birthday's and holidays from family and he really likes that fact that he has this money that is "his." I told him the deal was that he would have until that days end to collect these things and put them in the laundry. If I had to pick them up and put them in the laundry I would charge him $1 for every article of clothing. In the last 3 months he has only had to give me $5. I feel like that was a huge win.
Fast forward to last week. Our second biggest issue is he is having fear issues with our house at night and is scared unless he can turn lights on. We have done nothing but instill we live in a safe environment, have 3 large dogs and security lights and cameras that would mostly deter a burglar, however, still scared. Unfortunately, he turns lights on and never turns them off. I am talking his room, the guest room, his bathroom, the hallway, the hall bathroom, my bedroom or bathroom or wherever he has been. I was working at my computer and he was in and out of the house building a fort out of a big box we had trying to perfect his new space in our guest room. Mind you he already has a timer on the light in his bedroom that goes off every 25 mins if he doesn't turn it off but it is the only light like this. Steve was about to put timers on all our lights... lol, but that would be at an expense and time. I had turned off the light in the guest room where he was working on the fort twice in about 45 minutes. I really want him to be in the habit of turning off a light when he leaves a room no matter whether he will return in 5 mins or an hour, habits are good to form. But nope he hasn't grasped the concept of that just yet. So after the 2nd time when he came in I told him if he left the light on one more time I was going to remove the light bulbs. He sort of freaked as like I said he isn't really a fan of the dark (except at night when he is sleeping no lights allowed) Sure as day he did about 30 minutes later... So while he was outside I climbed up on the bed with a sock I found on his floor (that I didn't get to charge him for because the day wasn't over.) to remove the hot light bulbs quickly before he got back in the house. I proceeded to take them and go out to the kitchen to start dinner.
He came in went straight to the room, calmly walked into the kitchen and said can you tell me where to find a flashlight? I said I don't know look in the junk drawer or go out and ask your dad. He dug through the drawer, ( I think the alternative of asking his dad he would have to tell the reason)  I helped him replace the batteries and he went back into his room to play. Not a word was mentioned, not a single complaint... he knew he messed up and I respected his reaction.
A little later he came out and asked me for duck tape. I said why? He wanted to tape the flashlight to the ceiling fan. I told him where the tape was but mentioned that if he taped it to the fan and the tape ruined the finish on the fan I would be more mad about that then I was that he can't remember to turn the light off. Needless to say he did not tape the flashlight to our fan. He also did discover that there was a lamp on the night stand next to the bed that I did not remove the bulb from... I wondered how long it was going to take him to remember that. Fast forward to this week. Yesterday he asked for the bulbs back, I told him he could put his bulbs back but the next time he forgets to turn the light out he isn't getting 3 chances and they would be gone for a lot longer than a week. I asked him what he learned, he said that he learned that taking something away that he felt he really needed was sad and that he didn't like not being able to flip the light on when he entered the room he said he would try to remember to shut the light off and to remember that the light is something that shows him that everything is ok.
Translation for me... as I try to find the lesson too. A light in the darkness helps us find our way, when you are lost let the light guide you and make you feel safe. It is a promise of better days, brighter things and rescues us from fears. Don't let others steal your light bulbs and when they do find another way, don't give up and move forward because you can.
"I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." John 8:12

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Start today, Believe in Yourself, Be Kind to Yourself, Love Yourself….

My goal this year as I have written before is to be more present. This includes being happy NOW, not after I accomplish something or gain something or do something great. I remind myself every day. I did a live panel interview this past week about Mom's in Real Estate, (you can watch the playback on my facebook page) The topic was Sports Moms and balancing work, life and play. I spoke about how the constant uproar of my career... (no matter how much you schedule or look for normalcy- life happens, opportunities come along, someone wants to see a house that wasn't scheduled, a home inspector only has a certain slot to fit you client in, you work, you schedule, you reschedule based on priority.) What is your priority? Not everyone's priorities are the same. Yes, money pays my bills and often I do schedule and reschedule things around that potential money and a lot of times I schedule around my kid's schedule! Sometimes I am distracted by the tasks and opportunities that will bring the money for my bills, my family and of course my pleasure. 
On the show one of my fellow RE Mom's mentioned how sometimes it is hard to take off your hat when your life is so intertwined. Are you a business owner or employee, a wife, a mother, can you take off a hat and put on another when the important client calls when you are listening to your kid talk about their day in the car after school, or are you layering your hat to fit everything in. 
 Real Estate when you are in it full time is not an M-F 8-5 job... even for those Realtors who give you the impression that it is, there are always exceptions. People are off and want to see every possible house they can on a weekend to find "the one." Sometimes that means you are pulling 6-8 hour days, on the weekends, when the rest of your family is off. This is definitely a trade off for other times of the week that you are free to pursue other things, to go to the games, the awards ceremonies, eat lunch with your kid at school, have lunch with your hubby in the middle of the day, make appointments without having to ask off from a guaranteed paycheck job. 
This Real Estate thing is not a guaranteed job with a steady paycheck ...you can put in a lot of hours and work and never collect for those things.  I have lost 6 deals this year alone and it is the first of May  ( I am not excited to tell you this, however it is real, none of which were my fault, just circumstantial but still the effects of what I thought my take home would be and what it was, can mean the difference between paying bills or digging in your savings account or counting pennies).
At the end of the day... I LOVE what I do, I love connecting people to homes and to each other, I love connecting with people and building relationships, and honestly... even in my humble "helping people ways" I know deep down that I am good at it!! And that is what keeps me going, in the down times, in the hard times and in the lost opportunities...   I have to stay focused, remember my why (MY FAMILY) and say to myself... Dani, you LOVE what you do, and you ARE good at it! People love you and want to work with you, you are a unique individual and what you do makes a difference, you help people and people benefit from your interaction! It is not arrogance it is confidence and there is a true difference. I am an outgoing individual who can just about make friends with anyone, strike up a conversation and build a relationship that with some nurturing and follow up will last. And I definitely have my insecurities, more than I would like to admit sometimes.
I am not a center of attention or spotlight kind of gal... I actually get very nervous to speak in public... whether it is at a PTA meeting in front of a small group or on a LIVE Facebook show or panel of a room full of people, teaching a class or giving a presentation my insides actually turn upside down... I get nervous and sometimes nauseous- " do I sound dumb? do I look dumb, do I have something in my teeth, how is my body language, are they critiquing what I wore or how I speak? Yep this all goes through my head every single time. I am not sure why as every single time I have had compliments, or been told I sounded great! It is amazing what our own insecurities can do to us, we are harder on our self then often the rest of the world is. But we perceive the rest of the world as constantly trying to find our faults. It is often in our head, we make up stuff that we think the rest of the world is thinking… what a waste in our energy as more than likely nobody is thinking any of it! If they can be our cheerleader why can't we be our own. 
My neighbor Tami and I went to see I Feel Pretty last night with Amy Schumer, not only was it a good laugh, light and silly it had a very good message about how no matter how you look, your shape, your size, your status, your career, we ALL have some insecurities, we all pick apart our weaknesses and play upon how and why we don't deserve to be happy. We will be happier when we accomplish this or that, we will be happier when we are skinnier, or smarter or richer or famous or won some award, or conquered some task or found the right boy... no, YOU and you alone chose to be happy and you can do that right where you are, right now, right in this moment... Happiness really REALLY is a Choice, your circumstances do not determine your Happiness, YOU DO! Chose NOW! 
As little girls we didn't worry about such things, we were happy, things made us happy we loved people, we did silly things no matter who was watching, we loved the sunshine the outdoors, the day to day life, we were taken care of we were often sheltered and protected from the harsh world. As we got older and more responsible we somehow went from what we knew inside ourself and thought of and trusted to listening to others and society and media and schoolmates and co-workers on what is "in" and what is acceptable and popular and our thoughts of who we are and what we think everyone expects of us to be- this changes, we start down the road of self-doubt and self-loathing and a new found lack of self-confidence. And from what I see it is getting earlier and earlier for kids these days. 
We are all unique individuals, we all have something to contribute, we need to put our foot down, stop comparing ourselves to others, build each other up and not only hone in on but put our talents out there for the world to see instead of trying to create someone else's! We have the option to shape young children and adults future images of themselves by really having the confidence in our own, showing that what we do well, what makes us happy and how we portray our happiness and lives to others really shapes that young mind.... Do we want these young minds to have the insecurities we do or do we want to be the positive example that we are all awesome and have something to contribute, we are all able to look different, sound different, express ourselves in various ways as long as we are putting out a positive message, contributing our talents and strengths and believing in our self and our abilities instead of focusing on what we lack that someone else has, what we think we should look like or sound like or live like... It is definitely ok to learn more, grow more and strive for more, but be happy where you are, in your skin and illuminate every good thing you can offer and you will be the example and a happier form of yourself. It is more than ok to have goals. We all have a time limit on this earth... if we wait for more money, a better job, a better car, to lose 15 lbs, to be recognized, to finish our education or to find the right mate in order to be happy we may never make it before our expiration date and what a waste that would be.
As in the words of my favorite respected Authors Jessica Weiner " Life doesn't begin 5 lbs from now!"
Start today, Believe in Yourself, Be Kind to Yourself, Love Yourself….