Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mom's Night Out

So it's family movie night with dinner. Selected feature is Mom's Night Out.
I first watched this movie on opening night with a group of mommy friends... you know, it was Mom's Night Out! We laughed together, but we didn't discuss the movie afterward. No chitter chatter about our favorite parts and so forth. Yes, it was funny. But so much truth in it...that we, mommies, may find it hard to admit to ourselves much less to other mothers! The was made to be light because it is so heavy... this mommy thing. I mean... healing booboos with 'just' a kiss!!!! Knowing when to let them pick themselves up rather than scoop them up before they have a chance to cry. Meals, oh the meals! First determining how and what you want to feed them and the research behind the decisions~ all to do just what is 'best' for your little ones. This mommy thing..... can be overwhelming.
Food and feeding. We choose to either grow food in our garden, purchase from a local farmer or buy as much organic as available. And to pinpoint specifics about our food plan: no gluten, no dairy, and no refined sugar and flour. We aren't super pushy about what food decisions are best for you and yours (well, except when it comes to soda/diet soda and then I'm just about begging for you to throw it away. ha!). But your food choices are yours.
Preparation. There is planning all those meals. There is shopping for all those meals. Preparing all those meals and cleaning up after all those meals. And speaking of cleaning.....
Wow, little people make such big messes...crumbs, food on the table and in the chair, under the chair and even in their hair (catch that rhyme?)! And toys~ big toys! The smaller the child, the larger the toys. The larger the child, the smaller the toys! Can anyone attest to the pain (agony) of stepping on a lego?
Ok, so that is just a few of the daily tasks of mommydom (my word. I love my words.). And yes, we choose mommydom. We know the tasks before us and we choose it. And we know our choices come with a large to do list and an even larger reward list!
All those tasks mentioned may not seem like 'much', but add together all the other stuff each and every day, day after day, and a mommy can see the laundry that DID get folded (she threw a small party in her mind! Like an imaginary fist bump to the others on team mommy!), but then notices that they didn't get put away. Party crasher. The dishes that actually made it off the table and into the dishwasher. WIN! ..but those that remain in the sink. LOSE. The front door glass got cleaned. YES! ...but what about all those windows? Ugh. We have a tendency to see, to focus on those BUTs. That comes from many sources -- ourselves, others and even the sources that aren't even real! We create an expectation for ourselves: how did mama do it? My friend, Cathy Cleaner...her house always looks great and so on. And then, there is your spouse. He, of course, has his own expectations and well, many times, he can let you know when you're already aware and have seen the failure of your day and truly it wasn't necessary to point it out again. SLAM. That's what mommy feels. It's not how Mr. Spouse meant to send the message. It was his observation. And more than likely...truth. Yes, the laundry is on the bed and not folded or yes, the dishes are piled in the sink. Way to go! Your eye sight is great! *don't say that out loud* ;).  See, a mommy sees more failures than what is even pointed out by a spouse, mom, friend, etc. We stack our failures. Yes, we mound them up like mountains, yet for some reason, we seem to forget to stack our accomplishments. Those happy kids...they are fed, clean, loved, entertained, etc.
I have five beautiful children~ beautiful little creations growing right before my eyes. And while battling with the failure mountain during a rough emotional time of my life (the loss of my father and birth of my fourth treasure the day after, all while building and moving into our 'forever' home), a real and unforgiving mountain fell on my family and many other families...that tornado. We survived. Many did not. We rose from the mangled mess never to be the same. Attitude--having the right attitude about the situation can help you get over or through the mountain. And our (MY) attitude changed that day. I can MOVE a mountain just as easily as can a tornado!
See, moving into my new home hurriedly just days after losing my dad and birthing a baby actually created a mountain of work for me. And it kept growing and growing. Add another baby and wow! Cue the overwhelming feelings! Now, my kids were happy, fed, clean and loved and loved life, but mommy was being swallowed by the failure mountain, and desperately wanting to peel back the coverings from her eyes to see what was REAL--the accomplishments! They were  r i g h t  t h e r e. Right there all along. Kind of reminds me of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when Glenda, the good witch, tells Dorothy that she had the ability (to go home) this whole time. Funny, all she had to do was triple click those red heels! But, Noooooo. She weathered a tornado AND a witch, just to realize what was great---right there where she'd been the whole time!
And so, through a tornado tragedy of my own, I, too, saw all that was great right where I'd been. I had seen it all along, but my measuring stick was way bent and all out of whack! The earthly 'stuff' we go through, it isn't eternal!! I AM. THEY ARE. Are my floors swept? Yes, and sometimes twice per day. And, yes, 99% of the time, my dishes are out of the sink and cleaned every night. And laundry: washed (3 loads/day) and dried daily. Ummm...folded..well, that may take an extra day.
That tornado was a blessing in a sense (all about attitude, right?!). It took away the mountain I had created in that house. I was able to breathe and love LIVING because we were all ALIVE. And then came reality---the insurance project it created. 2011 was rough through the April 27 event. Emotionally and physically for a bit longer. But the fall of 2011 was such great a relaxing, great big long sigh! REST.
And then came 2012~ real life was back. It was January, I had to get busy with the insurance and in the midst of getting started, my beautiful mother, my very best friend, my greatest supporter was diagnosed with cancer. The worst year of my entire life. The worst, but I can tell you this -- 2012 was not long enough, because it held some of the best days of my life, too. Moments with my mother that I will cherish for the rest of my days. Could I please have a few more days of 2012?... could we double it? Extend it? I'd take a few (many!!!) more days of laughing and cuddling with my mama. I'd feel those overwhelming, being swallowed by the tasks of the day/the to do list again. Just for another conversation. Hug. An I love you moment.
My children were troopers during this year. They were perfect--like supernaturally perfect. So very understanding of me and my tears. Of course, I talk to my kids a lot---deeply. I'm not sheltering them from reality. I mean, come on, they survived a tornado while piled up on top of one another by a creek bank surrounded by falling trees! They understood my illustrations of 'picture mommy in a pool and the water is up to here (raising my hand about six inches above my head). I'm drowning in things to do and emotions. Please be patient with me'. They got it. And they loved me through it all. Supported me and each other.
So, back to the movie, right?!!! A light hearted comedy about a 'moment' every mother experiences. True overwhelming life full of chaos and emotions running rampant all over that failure mountain.
The movie pretty much opens with a mommy exploring her unexplained lack of contentment. That's when my dear 'emotionally observant' son breaks the silence by asking a very dreaded question, "Mom, do you ever feel that way?" (And see, we don't live in the past. We live in the now, so that drowning they were aware of, well, that was then and this is now. No obvious trials or trauma, just the everyday dailies). But, oh that question! How very caring and concerned my little guy was for me.
I want to be honest with my kids and always answer them truthfully (even when it hurts). After the question came a chuckle ... from Dad! He was really interested as to how I'd answer that question. Carefully protecting their hearts, but also being open.
And so I said.... "Yes. Yes, I do. But every mother who cares for her children has felt and will continue to feel, on occasion, those overwhelming feelings and that it isn't about the children or the caring of and for them. It's that 'life' stuff piles up on us. Like a mountain! Fortunately, we can and do see the reward of it all in you~ you guys build a mountain of accomplishment and mommies need to focus on that mountain more!"
And see Mommy...your job, well, yes, it is hard. Of course it is. It's an all day job. Every day and every night. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. On the clock and on call twenty four hours every day, no matter where you are....constant. We can't turn that off. So, Mommy, yes, your job is hard, but even more important to note is that your job.. I t   i s   i m p o r t a n t.  YOU are important.
Now, sing with me....   These are the best days of my li -i -ife. My li-i-i-i-i-ife......
 .............go enjoy a Mom's Night Out!

Mind Your Manners

I must confess. 
I do not require my children to say Yes, Ma'am and No, Sir. I don't. It isn't a requirement. I do, however, teach my children respect. And from what I have witnessed, a sassy mouth can say Yes, Ma'am. I'd rather my children respect me and talk with me in a pleasing manner than to resentfully mind their Ps and Qs and feed me their ma'am and sir bit. So far, that's working pretty well. My kids, all five of them, are learning/have learned that they are to respond to questioning without attitude, to speak in their own voices (no whine....cause I don't have cheese to go with that! And if I did, I'd eat it...fresh mozzarella, havarti, provolone, cream cheese, triple cream cheese....oops, I digress!) and to just simply answer without talking over anyone else. Manners do mean something to me. They do! And I believe respect to be an important manner to mind! I just teach it in a way that my kids are to always show it in their words and actions whether they include ma'am and sir. And if they use ma'am and sir... maybe that's a bonus. You know, the icing on the cake. I used ma'am and sir so much while growing up and mostly as a young adult (and I still do...out of habit). But I have to say that most people don't particularly like the usage. It is an "age" thing. I hear "Oh, you make me feel old" and so it seems people don't appreciate it as much as in the 'good old days'. As long as someone is speaking to me in a respectful manner, I seem not to be impressed with ma'am and sir. But, hey, that's just me. I really don't take notice of it when someone uses those words with me. Either way, I'm good with or without. However, a nice thank you goes a loooong way with me! Love a good thank you.
A good old fashioned thank you! I want my kids to be grateful. Grateful for what they have (people, place and things...all of their nouns!). So, I am responsible for teaching my kids to be grateful and to say thank you, and to always acknowledge someone when they are speaking, and to say someone's name when they need their attention. Those things are the manners I put high on my priority list. And those are what I am seeing coming from my children. My children have experienced loss and momentary lack. They already understand that we (and our things) aren't promised a tomorrow, so appreciate and be grateful for what you have when you have it! (here today..gone tomorrow!). They've lived that so much in the past few years. Life is short and sometimes, your "stuff" is shorter!  So, grateful is an attitude. An attitude I want to present at all moments, not just when I have something wonderful. Grateful in loss and in tragedy...not necessarily FOR the tragedy itself, but that it could have been worse. Things can always feel worse even when we don't 'feel' like they can get any worse. (It can...been there; done that). So, all that to say that I am thankful that my children are full of 'thanks' and show appreciation in even the small things.  My greatest example is this....
Each day, I cook a nice breakfast for the family. Each day, I cook a lunch (don't get me started on lunch....the worst meal preparation of the day...never know what to prepare! always a game (read struggle) for me!). And each evening, I cook a nice dinner for the family. My family is fed. Always fed. And they are always going to make sure that they are fed!  Persistent little people! (seriously, they think they have to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day..... Every day!!!! :) haha). So, even though they find comfort (and not even aware of it) in knowing they'll eat today and most likely tomorrow, they always find a way to say thanks! I'm not sure when this started, but pretty much during each meal, the children chant their mantra. "On three. One. Two. Three. Thank you Mama!" And it isn't just something to say.... they mean it. They are thankful. Thankful that I took the time to prepare food FOR THEM. And many times, go the extra step or two and make it pretty in their plates. And many times, following the thank you chant comes this beautiful cheer "One. Two. Three. We love you Mama!"  And that's when my heart melts. Seriously, I am wiping up the puddle of melted heart all over my counters! I suppose it comes with being a mama. Being so touched each and every time your children say those three beautiful words and show appreciation for doing what a mama is supposed to! 
We teach by example. Even when my children do something that they are required to do, I say thank you. "Remember to put your clothes away" and when I see that they have, I continue with "Thank you for putting your clothes away".... remember, even when they do something they are SUPPOSED to do. This encourages them to do it again and again and again and that I appreciate them following through with their responsibility. Don't you like it when your husband acknowledges your efforts around the house?  A sweet thank you when he noticed that the floors are shining! A thank you for that wonderfully 'I can see right through the glass' kind of clean door... after he tried to walk through it!  Yeah, that clean! At least he noticed, right?!!!  hehe.  Anyway, a good example leads to good behavior. And good behavior exemplifies good manners. And because my children have been a good example of gratefulness, my three year old now leads the meal cheer!  "One. Free. Five. Tank you Mommy." "One. Free. Five. I wudge you Mommy."  And I am blessed. I will take a big and loud round of THANK YOU any day over ma'am and sir. I am grateful. 
Thank you for reading. 

Meaningful Living Counts

Meaningful Living Counts

People live and people die.
We love. We make memories. The connection between people is what creates joy in living, but also the pain in death.  But, as negative as this may sound ~~ although it is not~~ our life matters, but our death does not. That does not mean that death doesn't change people or move people. It simply means that death doesn't have the same power as life. The world doesn't even slightly pause in it's rotation to acknowledge the death of a person. We have the power to be influential while living. Every moment the opportunity to do something, say something Grand!... something significant to make a difference in the life of someone and thankfully, IF you've done those things, they'll be remembered after one's death. The death of one doesn't change the processes of the planets. They keep turning and each living person keeps living. It just doesn't stop. Not even to remember those left with the pain from loss... the loss of a future....moments unshared. The days just continue to pass until yet again another person passes. It's weird to think that "it's just a part of life"..this death thing. Because truly, we were created for life, living and eternity and we shouldn't ever get used to or feel the normalcy of death. Death stings and hurts the living. Causing the changes in us that we may change the world during our life. So, how will you live your life? A life shared, lived so that when you die, your life may have made a difference in the world and remembered after your death. Your opportunity is over at death. I hope that each person chooses life! -- to live, to love, to share, to laugh and create life memories. Use your life. Don't let the world use you. Don't get caught in the daily grind that you can't see to live...That you can't see the moment until you miss it. Look around. There's much to do! Someone in front of you is hurting. Take a look, you'll see it. Heads held low. That missing smile. Angered much? Tear stained eyes. Grumbling tummies. There is a need for the living! We are called to share our love.... by sharing our life in this great big world. Go share.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Burdens of a Boat Load of Baggage

I'm bumming a little today ... even with as much wonderful as today has produced. I'm still thinking about all the death lately. The death of a lady (the mother of a dear lady friend of mine... Love them deeply.. and they love deeply). I went to the visitation before the funeral today to show my love and respect for the dear lady and her family. She was older. She lived a very full life. Had children, grand children, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren!! But no matter, she still leaves those behind... to celebrate her legacy, but to mourn and miss the days to come. And Lauren Bacall... a legendary beauty~~~ again, a long and enjoyable (it seems) life. Robin Williams... too soon. Too tragic. And as appearances deceived the masses, he left us in his pain. IN HIS PAIN. We aren't talking about Physical pain which is bad enough.... we are talking about Emotional and Spiritual pain... the battle of every word or thought from yourself and others. ... So, there is this post from earlier today that struck me deeply. I didn't like the way it made me feel. And it brought "probables" to my mind as it was a vague post, but clear in emotion. .... I find I am correct in my thinking and I am NOT LIKING being right! People... PEOPLE.... We are human. We have baggage. Baggage that is so VERY Heavy and Problematic... baggage we carried as children and toted that garbage all through our lives... IMAGINE bringing that mess into the most wonderful relationships! ... Please KNOW that we ALL have our own messes and WE ALL should be aware enough of this FACT and should be understanding and willing to be HELPERS and DOERS of GOOD to those we LOVE... those we ONCE LOVED... AND THOSE WE EVEN DISLIKE.... because truly, those people NEED it BAD. Remember that every expression on your face (rolling of eyes, snarling, frowning, etc), every word that comes out of your mouth that isn't edifying is Capable of bringing PAIN to someone who obviously is ALREADY HURTING. Relationships are hard. EVEN when you "love" one another. WORK IT OUT. Please don't just continue carrying your baggage around from this to that.... LAY IT DOWN. UNPACK THE MESS and DUMP IT. Find a way of L E T T I N G IT GO.      Forgive.  AAAAHHH... the best way to dump a luggage bag full of the past!

  Sometimes I feel like getting really real with people.... you know.. like getting up all in THEIR business and getting up in their faces and just spewing truth and LOVE all over them. ...... then, reality hits and "tells" me that No One would like me and then I would have no one to talk to. (which would totally defeat the purpose!) ... Do you see?  We all hear "voices" in our heads... thoughts. Thoughts to deceive. Thoughts to hold us back. Thoughts to even prevent something wonderful ...even if it doesn't seem that it would be wonderful.  There was one person that I did get really real with. And it was beautiful. (I'm crying). This world is so full of hurting people..... and hurting people, well, they hurt people.  So, I don't claim to have all the answers. (I am full of questions!).  But, what if, what if we would put up our chest plates like Superman, wrap the truth rope of Wonder Woman around us, and be humanly strong, smart and quick like Batman with no real "super" power and just be real and honest through our pain. Drop the defenses and just get real.  Stop allowing our past pain, hurt and perceptions to decide when we are offended.  Take what you have chosen (not the hand that was dealt to you... because, seriously, we make our own choices these days) and MAKE it work For you and not against you. Being offended blocks relationships. Building defenses tries to control something that, well, truthfully, you have no control over. Because someone else has their own game plan... either working for you or against you. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When Your Mind is Too Quick.... Robin Williams

I, like so many of you, are again devastated at the news of an ending.... a death. The majority of people who will be reading this never knew Robin Williams. Probably never even met him or stood in a line to even have their picture made with him.... yet, there is a connection with the majority of people to Robin Williams. He was a man with an Amazing Talent. Truth is... anyone who can bring a smile and a laugh so quickly with just a facial expression has a gift. And Mr. Williams, without ever uttering a word, could do just that. And then when he opened his mouth .... his mind working so quickly that the words of humor flowed out of his mouth like water from a fountain.

"With Robin, we see all that work happening right before our eyes, in a much faster way than I think is humanly possible." Rajiv Joseph, the writer of the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.

His list of credits is very impressive. Continuous work. Most of it created to cause a laugh response in viewers. However, many roles were so serious and deep and left you with a different kind of tear on your face. I remember watching Mork and Mindy when I was young. I remember laughing then and growing to love each show/movie that I was allowed to watch.  You know, some of his humor was only adult friendly.  And then electing to watch the majority of his films over and over and over again. They never grew old. Always fresh.

As I grew up and faced trauma (emotional and physical) myself, I was able to see pain in others from a different perspective. I was able to "see" it without hearing someone tell about it. People, in a sense, became like books to read. And, truly, I was in opposition to this. I never liked the phrase "I can read you like a book"... so, really, I was always guarding my pages!  And still do. I guard my pages. I don't want to be "read" like a book. I just want to be able to be the me that I am with you! Some people get more and some get less. We are all like that in some way or another. It's natural. But for some, maybe, they don't really know how to share themselves at all, so they create a persona that is safe. One that is comfortable for them and for those they share themselves with. Like... Robin Williams. It has been written that he was an only child (I have also read that he had an older brother) and that his parents were away much of his childhood. That he created personalities and voices For his toys and such so that he wouldn't be alone. Alone. Imagine having to "create" your friends/family at home just to have companionship. And then grow up to use those creations to stand in front of thousands of people and entertain them and have them "love" you. And we did. We loved the persona that Mr. Williams shared with you and I. We loved him. He made us laugh. Laughter is such sweet medicine. How could you not love that? But, couldn't you see it still?  Didn't his book jacket read: I'm being so funny to hide my pain!? The loneliness in his eyes. The discontentment. Even with a family, he still seemed lonely.  Battling depression and addiction. While making so many people "happy"... he was still plagued with sadness. Rejection? Fear? Abandonment? All those feelings as a child growing up with business minded nannies, few precious moments with his parents, and "not real" toys for friends. Lacking in affection and closeness?  You wonder. And if those are accurate, why wouldn't he then carry those feelings into his relationships?  Something real to think about as we raise our children, no?

I have seen many use humor as their blanket. Their cover for the person that they weren't ready to share with others. Hey, I've used it myself!  I love laughter about as much as I love water! (And, I drink more water now than ever!!!). I come from a long line of "funny people" and I am happy when I am laughing. And even happier when I can cause another person to laugh. I have found that I don't have to use humor as my tool, but that I am a better me when I find the best out of life and can share it with others in a humorous way.... to bring medicine. To bring healing to the moment. Most people who are creatively "funny" are quick minded. Their mind creates, filters and brings forth thought in a process that is amazingly quick. This also means that sometimes they utter words produced from such quick thoughts and with very little processing time that they sometimes regret saying. Whether it be hurtful words or words that are revealing of the person they may be trying to hide/cover. Robin Williams was very vocal about his addictions and his depression. And currently, now that he has passed, there is a quote being passed around social media sites.  "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone." After seeing this for the first time, my response was this: "I wish people KNEW what they mean to OTHER people... Those close and those afar... He was a treasure to his family and his viewers, yet, he didn't know."  Depression is about self. Destroying/withdrawing self. It is hard to battle yourself. Because if you win, you are defeated.

I leave you with this thought. Being so quick minded and masking his pain with humor brought life and laughter to us. But that same beautiful quick mind didn't leave enough processing power to change that moment. That one moment.  I have not read the book, nor have I confirmed it, but it was said that Robin Williams used the quote in a book (possibly The Greatest Dad Quotes...or something similar) that suicide is a permanent fix to a temporary problem.   Let us be slow minded enough to know that life can really stink sometimes and that no matter what... each day is temporary. And that tomorrow can always be different than the day before. My life has proved this in many ways.   And for those who know me, know that I am singing a tune. And yes, I am.   Please sing with me.

Dino -- Ooh Child

Don't you worry bout a thing
Oh, no, no
Ooh, child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh, child
Things'll get brighter
Ooh, child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh, child
Things'll get brighter
Some day, yeah
We'll put it together
And we'll get it undone
Some day when your head
Is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the
Rays of a beautiful sun
Some day when the world
Is much brighter
Don't worry bout a thing
'Cause life goes up and down
You gotta keep moving on
Ooh, child
Things'll get brighter
Ooh, child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh, child
Things'll get brighter
Oh, right now
(Oh, yeah) right now
You just wait and see
You've got to give it
Just a little more time.

Rest in peace Robin Williams. And peace be to those who are battling.