Do We Eat Words?

While chatting with the preschooler today over markers and paper, I noted the letters my little one was drawing in rainbow colors across the tablet of white.  I remarked, “I like your letters.”

Preschooler:  “I LIKE letters.”

“Me, too,” I responded.

“I like words.”  Then, looking up from the markers and papers, these words spouted from little lips:  “What do we do with words?  Do we eat words?”

I smiled at the innocent question. “We don’t eat words.  Sometimes we spit words.  Sometimes we say words….”

I know that sometimes people talk of “eating their words” when discussing having to take back words or admit they were wrong…but try explaining that to a preschooler.  🙂  The question has given me pause, though.

In current parenting circles and educational venues, children are encouraged to “use [their] words” instead of acting out with their bodies in frustration or other emotions.  Sometimes the phrase “use your words” is used to promote verbal communication.  I have used it many times myself with my own children and with other little ones.  I find words intriguing, marvelous, powerful tools!  I love to use them to describe, to console, to communicate, to empower, to compliment, and to strengthen.  And so I leave you with this same question today as you consider life, liberty, and your personal pursuit of happiness:

What do you do with words?  🙂

(And, because every post is better with music…here’s “One Word” from Elliott Yamin that I found on Spotify to share with you…because we all know I love a good, upbeat, positive love song….)

Parenting is Hard.

After an experience with one of my precious children this morning, and after some weekend reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion:

PARENTING IS HARD.

Maybe that isn’t news to you. If I stopped parenting long enough to think about it (which only happens in tiny little moments), I might have figured this out sooner. Maybe? 🙂

Anyway, these recent moments of reflection have shown me similar traits in my children to my own personality flaws (which are actually quite difficult to view). For example, remember when you have read a novel or watched a film and you find yourself identifying with the feelings or habits or personalities of a certain character? Those connections have been happening abundantly lately for me…only my children are not mere characters in a book or movie. They are my children.  And they are flawed (which I knew) like me (which is what is so difficult currently to view).

Maybe some of the difficulty is knowing the path they have ahead of them…and my desire to help them wake up to a realization that certain behaviors that I have wasted years of my life practicing can lead them to heartache and sadness.  I find myself defensively saying (in my mind) to them, “I’m getting over [that behavior].  Why can’t you?”

But, some lessons need to be learned from the inside out, not vice versa.

I guess what I’m saying is, after this weekend and this morning, I’ve got some work to do…both for myself and also with my children. And I’m wondering what I can do to change today….

Each of my children (and yours) is a gift, a life, an opportunity for love and learning and greatness. My children don’t need the fame of a Super Bowl ring, a Julliard degree, or a name in figurative lights to be valued and precious and productive in society. They are each amazing in their own spheres of influence as they develop and share their own talents and gifts with those around them.

I wish I had learned that earlier. I still find myself fighting feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness daily. But, at least I am fighting them (most days) instead of giving into negativity.

On the way back from taking one of our children to school (the one having a rough morning), my husband gently said my name, followed by the words, “You are a good woman.”

My immediate thought was, “If I was a good woman, I could cure more ills and take away more pain.”

As I fought tears in the thought, I saw something else, though…a smattering of light…of truth.

Pain is part of life and a tool to help us grow, just like a flower fights the adversities of gravity and wind to grow and stand straight and bloom.

So bloom. As a person. As a parent. As YOU. We can make a beautiful bouquet together.

I’ll Tell You What I Want…

The red lines on the clock form themselves into numbers I can read.  7:58 a.m.  The kiddos are off to school, husband at work, and I walk to the computer, move the mouse to the Spotify icon at the bottom left corner of the screen.  I have to think about which side it is since I still don’t know my left from right without thinking consciously about it.

I scroll through playlists, and a title on my daughter’s list catches my eye.

Less than a minute later, I feel the cold tile under my bare toes scraping back and forth as I do jumping jacks.  And I’m singing along….

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

My arms are burning (from yesterday’s arm workout) each time my hands sweep over my head and I want to cry.  Instead I yell….

So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

I continue to the chorus as my body yells for me to stop, but I keep jumping and counting and singing and up and down and counting and yelling.

What in heaven’s name is a “zig-a-zig-a” anyway?  I don’t care.  I just keep moving.  Down to the floor for push ups.  I yell the mocking words that are echoing in my brain that someone recently said to me, “Before trying more advanced moves, maybe you should learn to do a regular push up first.”

I laugh to myself, and my shoulders buckle underneath me, screaming inside my skin.  I can almost hear them.  The weights I take in my hand pull me lower, lower, harder, stronger, but I lift them anyway; I raise them higher and longer and more than I ever have.

I drop to the floor, put my hands down to support me, and walk my feet up the wall for a handstand.  Tighten abs, I tell myself as I try to hang on for one more second.

A new voice half-sings, half-raps over the speakers about fish in the sea, and I am back on the tile with more jumping jacks.  Sting.  Ow.  Keep going.  A few more minutes.  You can do this.  (The endorphins must be kicking in somehow….)

Drop for another set of push ups.  More jumping jacks.  Squats.  Punches.  Punches with squats.  And I’m yelling with Hot Chelle Rae about a “really, really messed up week.”  I can relate to that line.  And I’m punching harder, and my shoulders are still on fire as my legs threaten to crumble underneath me, landing me in a pile of ruin like the photos of Pompeii I saw in grade school.

Maybe I should give my body a break….

Nope, to the rug for abs.  Crunch, one-two-three-four-five, (suck it in), seven-eight-nine, (watch your neck), ten-eleven, (dang, I forgot to pray for Dad this morning).  I holler an audible prayer through labored inhales and exhales in time with the crunches and lose count.  Bicycling until my abs are screaming.  I hope I can move tomorrow…or even later today.

One more shoulder move…one more song.

I know how I “Wannabe.”

Who Says?

So, this song has been running through my head this morning…along with a few thoughts I would like to share.

I feel like our family has moved often recently.  Having said that, moving has its pros and cons, as before this recent trend of moving in my life I had been in the same setting for a number of years.  I enjoyed the comforts of long-time friendships and the familiarity of the setting.  The place felt like home.  I felt like I had a long-term identity among those who loved me (or didn’t like me, or felt indifferent about me, etc.).

Well, upon one of these recent moves, I was feeling a loss of that identity…and with all the feelings that accompany that loss, I wasn’t myself.  I found someone in this new area with whom I felt I could identify…and this person became somewhat of a template for building my new identity.

Only it wasn’t my identity at all.

In a flash of inspiration, one of my sisters one day on the telephone boldly declared to me:  “You don’t need to be [insert name here].  That place already has a [insert name again].  You need to be YOU.”

Her words were cause for evaluation and thankfully revolution to find myself once more.  And, guess what?  I’ve found I am happier being me.  Go figure.  🙂

So, jam to a little Selena Gomez while you think about who you are and that no one can dictate who you are or how you feel but YOU.  In the immortal words of the German band Snap, “[You’ve] got the power!”

Allowing Happiness

One of my writing habits (I would say “quirks,” but I imagine that I am not alone in this practice) is having something to grab and snack on while I write.  I know I need my blood sugar up in order to function…so I am typically snacking on something sugary but will occasionally go healthy with something like fruit or salty with chips/pretzels/crackers, etc.

Well, a few weeks ago, my preschooler approached me, seeking the Skittles that sometimes (often) sit beside me while I am writing.  I only buy the bulk-sized bags.  Like super-big.  The largest ones I can find.  And, I do share.

So, I had my big bag here beside me…and I pulled out a handful every now and then to put on the counter, then grabbed one or two at a time and popped them into my mouth. Well, my preschooler came up beside me, grabbed a purple (which he knows is my favorite color) with his pincer grasp, and turned to me with the words, “Open your mouth.”

He rarely tries to feed me, so his words and actions brought a smile to my face…which made my day a little bit lighter.  He popped it into my mouth, and I chewed it while retaining my smile.  🙂

I’m amazed at the intuitive nature of the beings around us and of the way they can bring happiness to us if we will but allow that feeling to flow into our hearts.

Well, I’m signing off for the weekend and hope that you…and I…will have a lovely (lighter) feeling…and days full of peace and hope for the future.

Happy New Year!

I’ve missed being here in my own little corner of cyberspace!  I had intentions of beginning again when my little people started back to school, but an unexpected accident (are accidents always unexpected? Was that redundant?…I apologize…I’ve been through a bit of trauma in the last few days and am hoping to have my wits about me again before the end of the week…but who knows?)…anyway, I’ve been in and out of the ER, doc’s offices, and surgical center with someone in my life this week.  I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet (does that really exist?) soon.  Maybe.

So, I’ve been thinking since the opening of 2013 on the blessings I receive through the generosity of others and how recognizing their kindnesses gives me energy to go out of my comfort zone and bless the lives of others.

Take last week for example.  I spent one day having a friend and her children visit…and, while we chatted in the kitchen, she grabbed a rag and began wiping down my stove.  She inquired whether or not it would bother me (and it didn’t, so she continued).

We also were able to have dinner with some dear friends in their home.  They let our children meander through various activities (including helping with dinner and dessert preparations) while making our family feel welcomed, valued, and loved.  And my heart was full.

So, the next day, as I thought of a friend who was suffering with sickness in her home, I prepared a meal to take to her family.  I felt so happy and grateful to be able to spread around the kindness and feelings of love that had been recently extended to me.

As we have had this trauma experience as of late, I have continued to be grateful for the helping hands, encouraging emails or phone calls, and the prayers offered in our family’s behalf.  We have been blessed beyond measure through this experience.

I hope that 2013 finds you well and happily filling your days with love and light!  Sending hugs to you and yours! (I’ve missed you…and writing…and blogging…and hearing your stories!)

Simple Gifts


photo credit

I still remember a song I learned when I was…who knows how old I was?  I’ve known it for as long as I can remember.  The song, “Simple Gifts,” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.  Would you like to hear Jewel’s rendition? (It’s the only one I could find on YouTube, so it will have to suffice.)  Here you go:  Simple Gifts

We have each been given gifts…gifts of life, gifts to give and receive love, gifts of faith in God or fellowmen (or both), gifts of writing, gifts of goodness, gifts to share and gifts to develop.  Gifts can be moments of peace and tranquility.  Gifts can also be found in packages of adversity, where we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to carry on and to triumph.  Whatever your gifts are, I hope that you will recognize that you are amazing!

In this post, I invited you to join my family as we have sought to recognize and develop the gifts we have been given.  Did you take me up on that?  We’ve had almost two weeks since that post, and I’m wondering what you have discovered.  I have been working on developing my gifts to cook and bake, to sing, and to continue writing and editing the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo…and I am working to connect with you through blogging while reading and commenting on your blogs.  I applaud your efforts.  🙂

While searching for our own gifts, let’s also look for the gifts of those within our sphere of influence.  Maybe someone did something kind for you.  (Yesterday, after a lengthy visit (with a somewhat fussy preschooler) at a store, I purchased said fussy preschooler a drink.  As we were shuffling items around a shopping cart, the two of us managed to dump said drink all over the floor.  And the drink was sticky.  And the floor was soaked with a big mess.

A fellow customer went to grab an employee, who quickly flagged the slippery, sticky area and mopped the spill.  I was so grateful for both of those people.  They took initiative and helped a tired mom with a fussy little person.  Sure, someone could argue that the employee was just “doing his job,” but to me his work meant so much more.  He was helping me rectify a mistake I made.  And I was grateful for him.)

Two Mondays ago, on our weekly family evening, we passed around papers where each person in our family wrote one item which we recognized as a gift in another person.  My page looked something like this:

MOM
You are good at playing the piano.  Mom is good at cooking.  Mom is very patient and forgiving of us.  You are so nice and you help me with everything! I wouldn’t have lived without you…literally! 🙂  You are very caring!

Now, while I wouldn’t own all of those kind thoughts from my sweet family (especially the piano one), some of the people who know me best have helped me see some of my gifts.  And, I think that since they were looking for positive attributes in other members of our home, they have each been more positive since the night we did that activity together.

So, in the busyness of this holiday season, I challenge you to take a moment to think of the gifts you possess that you cannot purchase from a store…as those may be the simplest (and most profound) gifts of all!

Third Time’s the Charm

So, I don’t often work much with clichés or colloquialisms.  In my writing classes in college, we were taught to avoid those types of fall-back phrases in order to explore new ideas and more creative ways to express our thoughts.  In the following cases, though, I have found the phrase “third time’s the charm” to be appropriate. 🙂

First Case in Point:  Dentists

Since our last relocation effort, I have neglected finding a new dentist for my family.  We had insurance issues…and distance issues…and personality issues.  We visited one for a dental emergency that wasn’t the best fit.  We visited another for a cleaning and an attempt to do some work, which also wasn’t the best fit.  Finally, we found a good fit yesterday.  And my child (who had experienced a traumatic dental experience) practically skipped home (figuratively, of course, since we drove), and I have been relieved that all went well.  Third dentist worked!!!!!  Hooray!!!!!

Case the Second:  Boots

Back in this post, I talked about my excitement related to FINALLY ordering brown boots…and how I sent them back.  Well, I ordered another pair of (unmentioned) boots in the meantime, and they were also a no-go.  I was getting a bit frustrated…but, fear not!  The third pair I ordered worked out beautifully!  I wanted heels (not riding boots) in a dark brown color with a more fitted shaft…and not too trendy so they last through several seasons.  I found a pair online that said they were over-the-knee (so I was a little concerned, since I wanted the boots to come just under my knee)…but I guess my legs are long enough that they fit exactly like I wanted them to fit!  Hooray!!!!! No more brown boot shopping for me!  Third pair worked!!!!! (Now, if I can just figure out how to treat suede so that they will be water-resistant…any one?  Any one?)

So, a song from my days of listening to and loving Schoolhouse Rock is playing in my head right now; I guess three really is a magic number.  Do you agree?  What experiences do you have when the third experience worked for you?

Sending hugs!!!!!

ON MEDIA…please comment!

When you walk into our home, sometimes you might be greeted with the sound of dialogue accompanying moving pictures on a large, flat screen to a score…sometimes you might hear music echoing from a speaker…sometimes you might hear a computer (or two) with game music on continuous play…and sometimes you might hear the latest cooking video from Cakes By ChoppA or Rosanna Pansino playing on YouTube for my little people.

Other days, when you walk into my home, you might hear a child practicing on the piano a theme to Harry Potter or James Bond…sometimes you might hear a child reading aloud from her latest book…sometimes you might hear dishes clinking as they move from a sink into a dishwasher, a broom moving across the kitchen tile, or the simmering of sauce on the stove.

Some days you might even find us in the kitchen, having an impromptu dance party.

What I’ve been thinking about lately, though, is the media-saturated society (and even media-dependant society) in which we live.  I am guilty myself of allowing this guest, in its multitudinous forms, often into my home.  My wonderings have led me to consider (though I cannot know the future) what this bombardment and obsession with media will bring about in our lives, in future generations’ lives, and in society as a whole.

While I find myself abundantly grateful for my phone allowing me to Google information for my child’s homework question at the swipe of a finger or send a friendly text message across miles in mere seconds, I continue to find my dependence on it (and my children’s, as well) somewhat exasperating.

I’m guessing the answer to my dilemma comes through my all-encompassing quest for BALANCE. And, I’m glad to know that many of you (including Jasmine–since we talked about the topic last week) are right there with me!

So, my question, which I would love to turn into a discussion (because I am really interested in your thoughts) here is this:

What do you think the effects of the current media accessibility and even dependence in society will have one, two, and three generations from now? Please share your thoughts!

What’s in a name?

I have always felt a strange sense of responsibility regarding the naming of a life.  I have long felt that a name can have so much to do–for good or ill–in the formation of a life.

My dad used to tell us about ways that children made fun of his name when he was a child.  I also remember that my brother’s name was one that was used jokingly.  Thankfully, my name’s pronunciation was difficult enough to say, much less make fun of, which I’m sure saved me some sort of embarrassment in one way while creating it in another.  Oh, well.

Still, as we brought each of our children into this world, I felt a powerful need to create a strong force around them with regard to their names.  I wonder if I have taught them enough about the reasons and feelings around the names they have been given.  I wanted them to each have powerful and purposeful names and to know the meaning of their names…but, like all lessons in life, I’m sure this one’s presence in their minds waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon.

                                       From here

Similarly, when I write, I find myself struggling again to name a character…to summon the forces of nature and writing to again create a life.  Sometimes I find myself, though I am past searching for names of lives that will come from my own womb, pouring over baby name books, searching for the name to fit the character I see in my mind’s eye.  I still feel a sense of ownership with these characters, who in some way become real to me, just as Jane Eyre, Clare Abshire, and Anastasia Steele are real to so many (I recognize that these women are oddly grouped…sorry).  I was also reminded this weekend as my husband and I attended the latest film from a franchise older than I am what is in a name…the faces may have changed several times over the years, but when a British accent speaks the name, “Bond…James Bond,” people listen.  His name has a power.

So, do you know why your name is what it is?

Did you ever want to change it?

And what have you done with your name to make it yours?