Tag Archives: life lessons

Goodbyes …

3 Apr

It was like the ending of the Breakfast Club, but without the cool music.

Although we deserved it. We deserved all that good 80’s music.

A buddy of mine recently decided to graduate and move onto bigger and better things. Packing up her bags and setting her sites on new adventures, a Guardian of the Galaxy type of quest. The very next week, I find out that an amazing blogging buddy of mine Cayman Thorn over at Drinks Well With Others has decided to close down the bar for a while and live his life to the fullest, blog-free, although he promises to check in from time to time.

This double whammy made me think of all the other buddies I’ve lost to the follow the-yellow-brick road journey. Sometimes it’s slow, losing touch is like that. Some relationships were meant to be novelas in length, others short stories. Both deeply meaningful, both leaving their mark.

But both saying good-byes in different ways. I’ve had buddies say so long with a big dinner, speech, scrapbook maybe even Facebook promises. And then others, like my buddies in the blogging world, some disappearing slowly with less and less posts until there are no more and others leaving you with one last farewell story, the kind that involves a pause … a moment.

Both departures made me think about the positives I got from each encounter. The laughs over corny jokes during traffic on our way to meet friends for Saturday morning brunch, or the boosts in confidence after reading his comments on one of my many stories. Both buddies made me laugh, both made me feel good about being myself, and both of them were just awesome people I was glad to have met. After the bummer-you’re-leaving shock slowly wore off, I was hoping they had some good memories of our conversations and outings as well. I was hoping I gave as much as I received. I was hoping I made them laugh when they needed one, gave them a high-five when they felt like they fell short, and brought them sunshine when it storming down on them.

I was hoping they learned something from my friendship as I had learned from theirs. That’s something they don’t really teach you when you’re growing up. That after a break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or after a friend moves to a new city or new endeavor, it’s still a loss. But one that ended on a positive note. Nothing hateful or worrisome or ugly about losing a friend to something better, something they were looking for, something on their yellow-brick road. You feel a twinge of hurt because they’re leaving but also a warmth in your heart, because they’re on their way. You feel like Red at the end of Shawshank Redemption. At least this was how I felt.

So in honor of their new beginnings I write this post for them and for all the other buddies that have moved on and set their sights on a new city, a new adventure on their way to something different, something bigger, something that gives them purpose. For Lame Adventures, Blissful Adventurer, 50 Year Project, BrickHouse Chica, The Strugglers Handbook, Mikalee Byerman, This Man’s Journey, Chica Writes, Apple Pie & Napalm, Alicia, Monica, Sandy, Lisa, Clara, The Other Lisa, Vicco, Jonathan, Doc, Talia, Rizza, Jarre, Anthony, and Patty

Buen Camino, my friends wishing you luck! I’ll be here if you change your minds and want to hang out.

 

 

Motivation Mondays: The Three-Legged Dog

27 Feb

Putting things in perspective becomes extremely difficult when you’re at rock bottom. You forget to ask the right questions because raw emotions tear into your being. You’ve finished three pints of Ben & Jerry’s and still find that there’s need for more.

I’ve been in these situations more times than I thought possible, as the Universe keeps “building” my character, but it took me until my mid-thirties to be able to find perspective at a faster pace. Before that, the anger, frustration, and hopelessness of the situation would stick with me for a while before I could flip the switch,  learn the lesson, or ask the right question. I have failed on all kinds of levels, multi-faceted levels, in every aspect of my life from writing, parenthood, love, and friendships, to self-discovery. I haven’t met someone who hasn’t failed yet, although I can think of a few who say they haven’t failed at all and just hide it well.

But I don’t point it out to them. No need. Some people just want to keep their lessons to themselves. All good. I don’t necessarily wear a sign and promote things myself, but I don’t really hide from failures, disappointments, betrayals, disasters, or gut-wrenching losses.

And it’s not that I don’t care, or I don’t get embarrassed, I just realized that when something like that happens, I can find my way through the messy truth. The emotions are still there and they’re still painful, whenever I fall on my own, or have been pushed down the most jagged cliff on Earth by someone I know or don’t know, but I stand up a lot faster. Broken bones and all.

I tend not to forget this turnaround lesson, this approach to finding my way back, because I’ve had so much practice, but I was recently reminded about perspective last week.

You see here …

 

This dog was racing through the open field. Jumping around. I swore he was smiling. Totally. Now normally you would think so what, right? Not a big deal.

But Maxie is a three-legged dog. Three-legged. I had only seen that once before and it blew my mind at how carefree and spirited he was sprinting through the grass just enjoying time. Now most dogs don’t really have problems, but this one. Yeah I’d say he has something to complain about, but he wasn’t, at least not when I saw him. He was sprinting like Hussein Bolt.

He was carpe all over that diem. His perspective was different. So I had to introduce myself and the owners were gracious enough to let me snap his picture. Maxie had that good mojo and meeting him was one of the highlights of my week. I got some of that feel-good feeling, that sunshine-in-my-pocket kind of feeling. It was good to get a reminder, even if I didn’t need one.

Buen Camino.

 

 

Cake Wars Reminds Me That I Need A Multi-Vitamin

20 Feb

The age of parenthood caught up with me as I fell asleep at nine o’clock on Friday AND Saturday night.

My nights of partying it up after the work week are a 20-something memory. I’m all about the Netflix now. But I couldn’t even stay up to watch Peaky Blinders. Peaky Blinders!!! My new obsession next to The Walking Dead. I couldn’t even manage to open up the computer and type out an idea. I wrote part of it on a piece of paper, but couldn’t remember what I had written the next morning. The times of writing into the wee hours of the moonlight, during the week ceased to exist, unless I had a shot of 5-Hour energy. Or a nap. Something I haven’t seen since pregnancy.

I think I need to start taking a multi-vitamin.

All my energies got swept up this week and then I was hit with the yearly Scouting Luau Extravaganza that required my kid’s troop to be in charge of games. We were also encouraged to participate in the cake baking and decorating contest.

So, we took out the flour and sugar, and since we wanted it to taste better than the rest we also took out Trisha Yearwood cake recipe. It was on. Cake Wars. Nick Jr. Edition.

 

All of them were actually pretty great, but these were some of the ones that caught my eye. Including my kid’s Lego version of an island with a shark swimming in shredded coconut waves. His sense of humor cracks me up.

But I can’t lie to you the whole baking process was a little stressful as we decided to do the baking and decorating on the same day, instead of being smart and splitting it up into two days. Baking usually calms me down, but there was nothing relaxing about this process, especially when we were on deadline and cups of flour were spilled, you barely had enough milk, eggs were poured in at the wrong time … you know when the mixer was on high and half of the yolky batter ends up on the wall and the clock is still ticking.

But I took a breath.

I didn’t want to be one of those moms, you know … the one that takes over their kid’s project and forgets what matters most is the process. So, I took our uneven cakes out of the oven and just made peace with the fact that we were going to be late and get the stink eye from some of the moms.  But it was all good. The shredded coconut covered the frosting disaster and the Moana and surfer dude Legos were rocking that beach cake. We had a good time at the event. We brought a cake. We didn’t win any cake decorating prizes, but we were happy with it, my kids were proud of it and I was glad to have put the brakes on my irritability.

But all that activity and buttercream frosting contributed to my lack of writing and parent exhaustion. Daily vitamins are definitely in my future.

 

 

A Standing Ovation

16 Dec

After all the dramatic events that led to our induction into AYSO I’d like to say that it turned out fantastic, that the season was filled with plenty of Rudy-Hoosiers-Miracle-The-Natural type of moments.

But … I can’t. Nope.

My son’s first ever soccer experience involved being part of a Bad News Bears squad where they ended up losing almost every single game of the season. And instead of being one of those crazed parents yelling at their kid after the game or the season, I seemed to take the Kurt Warner approach.

I could see that he felt bad game after game, that he knew they had a losing record but I didn’t want to focus on the losing. But don’t get me wrong I did point out mistakes and what needed to improve, but that wasn’t my focus. I decided to concentrate more on what he did do right and how impressed I was at how he knew nothing about the sport at the beginning of the season and ended up being such a great defender toward the end.

He was voted most improved and I was proud of that, because that’s all we really want for ourselves too. We want to be better than we were yesterday and I was glad he had that in mind.

I mean I knew the losing record was a bummer, but still felt like he deserved a high-five, because he was different from the other players. He gave it his best, 100% effort and that was what mattered. His character in the end mattered. Every week he showed up, hopeful that his efforts and those of his teammates would bring back a win. Every week he gave his heart and every week he got better.

IMG_7813

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So instead of pointing out the losses that took place throughout the season I paid attention to the courage it took for him to try something new and his perseverance and sportsmanship when things weren’t easy. I decided he definitely needed his standing ovation because losing is a hard lesson to learn no matter how old you are.

 

 

The Little Red-Headed Girl In All of Us

9 Nov

Everybody needs a little red-headed girl in their life … you could be the little red-headed girl in someone’s life even if you don’t have red hair.

Yup.

I learned the wisdom of the red-headed girl by watching Charlie Brown, him and his whole Peanuts Gang threw down some serious heart-warming material for the soul.

I knew I would enjoy the movie and I knew my kids would love it, but I had no idea that there would be such a great life lesson accompanied by movie popcorn and juice boxes.

The Peanuts Gang becomes part of our family every holiday season beginning with The Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving dinner, and ending with Christmas. So it was of no surprise that we hit the movies on opening weekend. We’re big Charlie Brown fans. We love underdogs around here. We rooted for him to catch that break, to succeed, to kick that football, to fly that kite. We wanted to high-five him when he had his moment and smiled knowing that it had happened.

But aside from having his moment of victory, he had something else in this movie. He had an A-Ha! moment because someone else believed in him. Now for the record we know that Snoopy and Linus always believed in him, they were always in his corner, they always wanted him to succeed and never thought of him as a Blockhead. They thought of him as Charlie Brown.

But this time … this time there was a girl … a little red-headed girl who gave him the butterflies and made his heart beat faster. This little red-headed girl saw things in him that he didn’t see in himself. All the things he perceived as mistakes, missed opportunities, or utmost social disasters turned out to be valuable qualities like compassion, honesty, goodness, and courage. This girl didn’t see what was wrong, she saw what was right.

And that’s he needed, that’s what we all we needed.That moment was so awesome i stopped eating my popcorn. I paused to see if my kids were paying attention. I turned to look, their eyes staring at the glow of the screen and the smiles were big.

We all need a little red-headed girl in our life and we need to be that little red-headed girl for somebody. We need people to look at our choices and not see the failure or embarrassment, but realize the value of our spirit. We need to have people see our potential and inspire us to reach it when we can’t see it ourselves.

I was grateful for the Charlie Brown lesson and I was even more thankful that my son and daughter got a chance to see it. They’re both capable of being the little red-headed girl, we all are, it’s in the spot where our heart rests.

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Today … Joanna Was My Exception Joanna And Her Six

19 Aug

Normally I don’t … I just don’t.

But the title caught my eye.

Six Things I Wish I’d Known About Marriage When I Was …

Dude I was like wait … only six? I would have waaaaaaaaaaayyyyy more.

So I got curious, and it wasn’t so much the information, it was the fact that I thought, dude I could have written this article. I definitely had plenty of lessons. I definitely had plenty I-Wish-I-Would-Have-Known moments. I totally could have had a byline on the front page of a magazine. Totally. Who was this chick and what were these six?

So I went against my instinct and clicked on the link.

I had to, I had to find out if the pretend article in my head would be better than what was posted on this major site. And the thing is I never do. I don’t. I stopped reading stuff like this after my 20s. In fact I bet you did too. I bet you didn’t even click the link I posted.

I bet, and you know why?

The majority of these articles are a load of crap. All these relationship articles out there claiming to know the secrets of marriage, or the top ten things your wife really wants, or ten things to never do in front of a guy, or what your husband is really thinking, or do these four things just like so-so celebrity and your partner will thank you for life.

Dude this was crap. It wasn’t like it was Oprah or anything.

I was already reaching 30 and decided I had to stop. I had too.

None of those articles out there had my life, my dudes, my problems. They knew very little of what my ideal relationship should be, so I just quit all of them because you know what? There is no secret to marriage. It’s work. Hard work, but it’s worth it with the right partner. It’s worth it and if I needed advice I’d probably ask a friend how she made it work. That’s real to me.

So I don’t do it anymore. I had stopped doing it. I made the rule and that was that. No exception. Nope. None. I’m done wasting time with that nonsense. Now I stand there in the grocery store line, waiting to pay, and I ignore the crap out of all those magazines with some hot chick on the cover they think I want to be like and I focus more on whether I brought the right coupons and people watching.

People watching at the market rocks. Makes for good material and characters in stories.

But this time I wasn’t at the store. I opened up my computer, clicked my Firefox 30.0 and waited for my homepage to appear and then there it was staring at me.

Six Things I Wish I’d Know About Marriage When I Was …

I thought yeah I wish I knew some things. I wish.

Six huh? Just six.

And so I clicked.

I read.

I was like Amen sister! Preach! Preach! I’ll testify. I’ll testify tonight.

Yup. For once they got it right. This chic Joanna Schroeder rocked those six lessons, I would have added a few more in my case, but overall I think she covered some ground. I don’t know what else she writes but this one was right on the mark.

Today … Joanna was my exception. Joanna and her six.

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Loving Seuss on His Birthday

2 Mar

I had no idea how amazingly talented this dude was until I was older, perhaps when I decided to be a writer.

I mean really … who creates worlds like that out of the blue, and then pours them out on the page.

And then makes them rhyme.

And then illustrates these worlds with crayons that color outside the box.

And it’s amazing.

Dude.

Dr. Seuss would have been 111 years old today.

I remember growing up and going to the library on the hill, the one overlooking the baseball diamond, I headed to the small children’s section in the back and browsed through the books, figuring out which ones I would check out. I used to sit in that little corner for a while until my Dad came by with books of his own and it was time to check out.

I know a lot of people have their favorites. With The Cat and The Hat, Horton Hears a Who, or Oh, The Places You’ll Go! being at the top. They are pretty awesome books with a good lesson in every one, but I’d have to say that my favorite is The Lorax. I never been in GreenPeace or anything but I think it was a great lesson on caring for the environment and being concerned with how your presence can effect your surroundings.

The Lorax

The Lorax

 

But most of all I think I like The Lorax because he has a little George Costanza in him when things start to fall apart. I mean he tries the nice approach, but The Once-ler doesn’t seem to care about consequences and keeps growing his business at the expense of the environment.

And that’s when it happens … The Lorax hits his Serenity Now moment in hopes that it would change things, but it doesn’t work so he leaves The Once-ler to learn his lesson the hard way.

He reminded me of myself, because sometimes you need a little Costanza in you to get your point across. You need to get passionate and crazy to try to teach people to do the right thing.

I like the fact that this was a kid’s book and someone got a little heated. I liked that there was more than one dimension to the character, because I had more dimension. I had layers. And I liked that I saw that in the book and that it wasn’t a bad thing.

I read it to my kids. It was actually the first Dr. Seuss book I read to my son and enjoyed the fact that he gets caught up in the colorful Dr. Seuss world and appreciates the message. Although The Lorax wasn’t his favorite character, he seemed to enjoy the Brown Bar-ba-loots eating the Truffula fruits and the Humming Fished, who hummed. But his favorite character was the boy in the story, the one with the last Truffula Seed of them all. He seems to care a lot and that’s why he liked him.

And I like that Dr. Seuss exposed this side of my son.

What did Dr. Seuss do for you?

What’s your favorite character?

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project Update 25: I’m Still Keeping The Snooze Button

15 May

Apparently everyone has a set of inherent rules that help them get through the day. Sometimes you’ve had them so long you don’t even remember making the list, you just keep the rules because they have been working for you … sort of.

And then it hits you … you’re the female version of George Costanza except you’re in your thirties and  you’ve got hair. Gray hair, a multitude of gray sneaking in, the bad kind. The stressful kind. So maybe you need to examine these rules a bit closer. Part of this whole Happiness Project challenge involves mindfulness and I couldn’t go forward without examining some of my rules.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

I know I’m a Chapstick type of chick, but I’m still a complex human being. I’ve got layers. So my list was a little long. But I narrowed down the rules that could use some tweaking. But could I? I’ve had them for a while. They were rules, right? Dude … then I realized. This is not Monopoly, you can totally change the rules. These were the contenders.

Hit the snooze button.

Finish the to-do list.

Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.

Calm down.

At first they seem pretty good. Finishing my to-do list was necessary. It gave me umph! at the end of the day. A high-five for crossing everything off my list. Victorious at the end of a very tiring day. And of course I had to be in hurry, how else could I finish the list. Hurry to be on time. Hurry to finish working out. Hurry reading this book. Hurry  I only had 24 hours. But then I thought if I had all these things to do why would I hit the snooze button in the mornings? It’s just taking time away from finishing the list. Am I sleeping longer? Yes, but then I’m in a hurry because I snoozed it. Then there’s the calm down, effect. I realized that sometimes you need to feel a little rage. Case in point my run-in with the personal space hijackers at the beach. Calming down is not necessarily what you want to hear or feel at the time. Just feel it. Repressing emotions just lead to crazy later.

That is what I learned after a brief review.

But the most eye-opening examination happened to be the one that Gretchen Rubin gave me. Apparently she agreed with me about the hurry, hurry, hurry. It’s not very constructive and it’s probably more stressful. So she gave me an idea.

Instead of hurry, hurry, hurry. Try “I have plenty of time for the things that are important to me,” even if I hit the snooze button.

“By questioning my True Rules instead of applying them unthinkingly, I could make sure I applied them only when they’d guide me to decisions that reflected my true priorities … By mindfully deciding how to act in line with my values instead of mindlessly applying my rules, I was better able to make the decisions that supported my happiness.” — Gretchen Rubin

And so with this advice I added a few new rules to my list courtesy of Rubin’s chapter on mindfulness in hopes that more happiness and less craziness comes pouring in.

 

First thing is first (as in when the plane is going down, grab the oxygen mask and put it on yourself first before helping anybody else … you can’t help if you’re not breathing).

Down with boredom.

Get some work done everyday.

Choose the bigger life.

People succeed in groups.

 

But I’m still keeping the snooze button, sometimes you really need it.

Sometimes People Just Don’t Get It

17 Dec
Image via quotablecards.com

Image via quotablecards.com

 

I met someone like this and I really didn’t know what to make of it. I stood there in disbelief. I mean I couldn’t understand the lack of common sense and lack of wisdom. I thought that at least by your 30s you’d have some sort life lessons that would guide you away from stupidity.

But no … some people have not. They keep putting their tomato in fruit salads thinking it’s spectacular. But it isn’t. It really isn’t.

People like this are exhausting. They exhaust me.

 

What Did I Get at the CVS? Advil, Chocolate, and Wisdom.

28 Sep

Photographed by Bradley Wentzel

“YOU CAN’T MOVE VERY FAST
IF YOU’RE CARRYING A LOT OF BAGGAGE.”


April Holmes, Paralympic Gold Medalist, 100 meter dash

I found this quote the other day as I was flipping through a magazine at the CVS. Now I don’t do a lot of soul-searching while I’m waiting in a long line to pay for Advil and chocolate. Most of the time I’m wondering why the self-check out aisle is not working properly, or why I just didn’t buy the stuff when I was at the supermarket the day before. But sometimes a lesson just comes out of the blue.

I imagine that after losing her leg in a train accident this chick was pretty much not wanting to hear the silver lining to losing a major appendage, but I guess she did.

The advice appears to be basic common sense that people at airports or train stations follow. I mean if you’re running to make your plane or your train, you know that your carry-on baggage is going to slow you down and you might even miss that plane or train. I mean it would be easier if you had one of those carts. In truth it would be easier if you had no baggage. But nevertheless there you are running all crooked, hair flying everywhere, shoulders killing you, luggage straps not really doing their job, and your knees not really cooperating during this sprint to the gate.  It appears that sometimes in real life we’re doing the exact same thing and this airport/train station wisdom escapes us.

It’s easy to get weighed down by all the crap in your life that isn’t going right — an accident, a job, a relationship, family drama, bills, or whatever crisis is making you eat tubs of rocky road ice cream at midnight. I know. I’m guilty of this. I admit it, it is easy.

But this Holmes makes a good point. She smacked me with some common sense. If you’re tied to your past (AKA your baggage) you’re not going to get very far in the future. Common sense, yes. But sometimes we have brain farts and this wisdom escapes us. Or maybe we just don’t go to the airport on vacations as much as we’d like, so the whole baggage weighing you down isn’t a recurring metaphor. But it’s all good. I get reminders … reminders at places like the CVS. So drop your bags, man! Drop ’em and go.