Monday, September 22, 2014

Flowers in Your Time Garden

We've all done it. We look at our schedules and all we see are appointments and "things to do". Kids need to go here, Husband needs to go there, you need to go here, there, and everywhere. Even the pets are busy. And by the end of the week, we're exhausted without really understanding why. 

Life used to be basic and simple. What happened?

Weeds have grown into the Time Garden of our lives. We just never noticed them until they grew through the flowers.

If you're anything like me, you're schedule gets full pretty quickly. It's easy to fill in all of those blanks with busywork of weeds...right? White space is a bad thing- especially when it shows up on our weekly calendars.

But there's the rub. We leave that space open instead of filling it with flowers. Flowers are things we do to wind down, regroup, and relax. If we planted flowers, the weeds would have no where to grow!

We need time out of our days to spend with family, down time to rest, read, or go for a walk; it doesn't matter what the activity is, but it needs to be something you enjoy doing. And if it isn't planned out the second you see that blank schedule page, it simply won't get done.

When I plant flowers during my week, I actually get more done because I feel energized. The stress is much less that it was (stress is never ever gone, because I'm a mom), and I'm a nicer person to deal with. 

Oh, but when I don't plant flowers....look out!

I used to feel my life was out of my control- so much to do, and so little time for fun! But when I plan the fun ahead of time, I do have more control. And life is better.

It's not easy stepping back from a busy schedule to one that actually allows you to breathe, but the effort is worth it. And it is an effort. It's hard for anyone to change from the faster pace that they're used to.

This week I have a lot of chores to do. The house is a wreck and I have writing deadlines. But I also plan on going for walks and having a friend over for tea this week. That time will be cherished and will keep me from getting too stressed- and that in turn makes my family happy.

Because we all know if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! And that, my dear readers, is the honest truth. I need that down time to remain sane.

Please plant those precious flowers on that blank schedule before your week begins- and watch the blessings bloom!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't Downplay The Yays!

When we were born, our parents celebrated everything we did, because we were doing it for the first time. When we were older, new achievements were set and accomplished with applause, wide grins, and cheers of "You did it!" and "Way to go!" ringing in our ears.

Ah, the glory days. We knew them well.

Now that we're adults, there never seems to be much to cheer about- unless you want the office fist-pumping for your last trip to the bathroom. Nah, I didn't think so.

People don't tend to celebrate the little things anymore, nor report them to friends because the triumph seems so small an accomplishment. But inside we are disappointed that no one else noticed and gave us some form of acknowledgement.

A perfect example for me was when I came down with the flu and could barely move for several days. Any effort was a huge one, and even a small walk from one room to another left me shaking and dizzy. Yet I kept trying, glad that I wasn't a complete amoeba, and moved a little farther and a little better every day.

My son watched me closely as I made my way from the kitchen to the living room couch. I thought it was just to make sure I got there without falling, but when I sat down, he let out a cheer. "You did it Mom! You made it all the way without stopping this time! Good job!"

Darned if that didn't make me grin and feel all happy inside. He knew I was really sick, and he also knew I'd needed help making the same trip the day before. And making it across the room by myself was cause for celebration.

I'm not just talking about when we're sick. I'm also talking about the little things we accomplish each day. It could be something you've never done before that takes a step in the right direction, getting more things off your "To Do" list, beating your son at chess (finally), or even stepping out of your culinary box and making something new for dinner. If it makes you happy, that's all you need to cheer!

Don't shy away from cheering someone else in their Yay moments. 

A friend of mine called me all excited that she had just learned how to make homemade mashed potatoes. Now, I make them all the time, but she is a microwave mom, so this was huge for her. I cheered her on like she had won the Superbowl all by herself. Now she wants to try new recipes and I'll be there to help and cheer her on.

You might have done their particular Yay moment all of your life, but it's a biggie in their life, and therefore should be celebrated.
Don't downplay the Yays in your life and in the lives of those around you. Encourage each other. Celebrate the little things. It might just make someone's day!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Perspectacles

It isn't easy getting out of a rut. Sometimes you need to walk away from a situation to see things from another angle. It's hard to see where you are if your eyes are plastered against the wall. 

In this case, life itself was in a rut- doing the same things every day, all day. I don't care if you're a housewife like me, or a businesswoman, we all wind up getting frustrated when spinning our wheels. 

So, we planned a camping weekend. 

We had a three-hundred square foot cabin that consisted of a bathroom and shower, and the main room was also the bedroom- for all four of us. My husband, me, and my two teenagers. You foresee no problems there...right?

Now for you hard-core campers, it might seem a great luxury to have working plumbing in a small cabin, but let me enlighten you- a woman over forty can't always make the quarter-mile trek to the public bathrooms in time, and teenagers (especially boys) must take showers or no one will be able to breathe. Breathing is a good thing- you want to do that. A lot.

There was no kitchen. Everything was going to be cooked over a campfire or on the camp stove. I spent and entire day making meals for the trip, just so I wouldn't have to cook when we arrived. Hey, it's my get-away too! Throw it in a pot or on the fire, and we're good. I was ready.

Except I didn't make a packing list. I always make a packing list. And my husband was in a hurry to get going. He's always in a hurry to get going. After we unpacked, time was wasted buying things I had left at home. Note to self- make a list next time- your memory has more holes than a colander shot with an uzi.

Living in so small a space is good for the short-term. We learned that wooden bunk beds creak a lot, so we moved my restless son's mattress to the floor after the first night. We learned that every one of us snores. We also learned to shut it out so we could sleep. And neatness was not only a virtue, but a necessity- especially in the middle of the night when you're trying not to kill yourself as you head for the bathroom.

By the end of the get-away, the cabin seemed quite spacious, and I even came up with a few cool ideas for turning walls into table space, and using other space-saving devices that would improve living conditions had we ever had to live there. 

Just as we got used to everything, it was time to go home.

We arrived to what seems now a mansion, and everywhere I look I see luxuries...and mess. I also see many opportunities for personal growth as a mom, wife, homemaker and writer, now that I have on my perspectacles. They help me see things that I never would have seen in my rut.

I'm excited. I have new plans to make, new ideas to try. And, thanks to God, a new perspective on how better to serve Him through my family!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tap That Potential!

Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, "You have so much untapped potential!" 

Have you ever answered, "Yes, but..."

It's happened to me, and I've given that answer....many times.

So what's stopping me from being the best I can be? What's stopping you?

I bet it's the same thing- fear.

We don't do our best because we fear. We doubt that we're good enough. We are afraid of living up to a higher standard. We are afraid that the higher we reach, someone will find out we're not really so great and expose us to the world as a fraud. We are afraid that they're right, and we're just trying to fool everyone- including ourselves.

Fear is that knotted mass of sticky goo we put in the keg hole to keep us from getting hurt. It isn't easy being the best we can be, whether it's a talent (or several talents), an attitude, or whatever else people can see that's great in you. They see diamonds, but you can only see the coal. A little pressure and you can be something fantastic, but pressure can hurt, and many of us aren't willing to take that risk. 

Risk is scary.

Friends get frustrated with me sometimes because I never seem to tap into what they see as potential. But the problem is I can't see it, or if I do, I'm not willing to step out of my comfort zone and endanger my fragile inner being to the harshness of the world. But there are times I think I can do what others say I can. I begin to believe that maybe, just maybe, my friends are on to something. And I start believing that I can pull it off, whatever it is.

There comes a time in this life that we need to tap that potential, and see where it goes. It's scary, but it's also exciting. When I look back on my life I don't want to see a lot of "what ifs"- even if I fail, I will be a better person for having tried. Doing nothing does nothing. You can't grow a garden if you don't plant the seeds- even if you have no idea how to till soil, you learn by opening the seed packet, and play in the dirt.

It's not like I have to tap my potential with a sledgehammer. I can tap it with a hammer and a small nail if I want to. I can always widen the hole afterwards. In fact, I probably will. I might just keep that sledgehammer handy just in case I get really brave- but for now a small hole will do.

Someone once said, "Courage is not the lack of fear- it's doing what you need to do in spite of it." Tap your potential. See what happens. Either way, the results will allow you to grow in unexpected and wonderful ways. 

Now where did I put that hammer?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Multi-Tasker Headgear

It's not easy being a woman.

It's especially not easy when you're a multi-tasking woman. Actually, that may be the most redundant sentence in the universe, because all women are multi-taskers- even when we're not trying to be.

Who else could wear so many hats, yet not break her neck? Even if we don't have kids, we usually have more than one task going on at the same time anyway- we just have more time to devote to those tasks.

Some hats may seem like one hat, but they aren't. They resemble those hats you see in a Dr. Seuss book, where one hat has a bunch of tiny ones under it. These hats have sub-hats!

For instance:

Wife:
     Husband Caregiver
     Laundress
     House cleaner
     Personal Shopper
     Chef
     Seductress
     Nurse
     Incubator for the next generation

Mom:
     Cow (when they are babies)
     Cash Cow (when they are teens)
     Toxic Waste Manager
     Cuddler
     Sergeant
     Disciplinarian
     Referee
     Jailer
     Cook (making meals from hot dogs and spaghetti, not the fancy stuff when you used to be a Chef)
     Dishwasher
     Greased Piglet Handler (aka wet, soapy, kid wrangler)
     Herder
     Surgeon
     Taxi Driver
     Seamstress
     USO Expert (Unidentified Stinky Object)
     Lawyer
     Sage
     Actress (especially when the kids need a monster to "kill")
     Financial Guru
     Lunch Lady
     Ninja

Businesswoman:
     Organizer
     Acrobat (especially in high heels)
     Counselor
     Scribe
     Computer Expert
     Psychic (you know the boss will be here any second!)
     Phone Operations Expert
     Zookeeper
     Office Machine Repair Guru

...and this is just three hats. This post would never end if I mentioned all of the hats we women wear. 

Men have hats too:

Work
Eat
Sleep
Helloooo Wife!

Men are smart enough to take off a hat when they're done with it. Not us women, nooooo....we need to keep those hats handy just in case we're needed for something- like a Zombie Apocalypse. You know you have a hat for that, too....don't you? (especially if you have kids!)



Monday, August 18, 2014

Challenges?

I've seen some pretty weird things on the Internet. What I don't understand is the newest fad- Challenges. The latest ones are:

Challenges like teens lighting themselves on fire for fun. 

Making videos of certain body parts moving (and I don't mean ears or noses!)

And this latest thing that's even gotten adults doing it- the Ice bucket Challenge. People dumping ice water on themselves instead of giving a certain amount of money to a charity. Some are even congratulated for their bravery when doing it.

Why?

None of these things build character- in fact, some of them are downright dangerous and can cause permanent damage. I'm all for fun, but this is borderline crazy! Are kids really that bored with life that they invent new ways to maim themselves? 

Apparently so.

"I'm really bored. Let's find something cool to do- Hey, I know! Let's grab some lighter fluid and burn ourselves! Oh, let's be smart about it and stand in the shower first- of course I can turn on the water and hold my phone at the same time- I'm not an idiot."

or...

"I want people to respect me for my talents. Watch me show off my (name body part here) so they can see how awesome and talented I am!" 
(for the record, popularity and "likes" on Facebook don't equal respect, kiddo).

or...

"Oh look! This charity needs help. I can't donate, but to help spread the word of their needs, I'll post a video of me dousing myself with ice water- this is going to do wonders for them!" 
Um...why not take those bottles of ice water and sell them so you can donate to the charity? What good will posting a video of yourself wet and shivering do to help those in need? 

It makes no sense to me. I hope I'm not the only one.

I'd rather light a fire on my fire pit and invite a hungry family over for a cookout.

I'd rather see you dancing and singing with joy to God- that I will record and happily put on facebook!

And I'd happily dump several buckets of ice water on my head and post it to Facebook if everyone who watched it would donate to a charity. That is a challenge I wouldn't mind doing (and I hate cold water!)

Before doing any "challenge", please think before accepting- I don't care who you are, what age you are, or if you like or hate the color purple. Use the brains that God gave you and accept only those challenges that make you grow into a better person- not a human torch/porn-star/soggy-Popsicle!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Heart-Colored Microscope

People are funny creatures. 

We look in the mirror and see nothing wrong, but look at others with a microscope. We find every flaw, every blemish, every negative aspect, then act accordingly. The media and social networks don't help us curb this tendency.

But, what if we looked beyond the faults, the bad behavior and the negativity? What if we looked at people with a heart-colored microscope? What would we find?

We'd see the cranky old neighbor has a desperate need for companionship.

That nasty little boy next door has no one to talk to, and lashes out in frustration to anyone that tries to get close.

The homebody housewife down the street is just very lonely, and would love it if someone just said "Hi" and invited her over for coffee.

And the lady at church who keeps to herself, is just shy and doesn't know how to act around a large crowd- like a congregation. She would love to chat, if only someone would extend an invitation.

What if we looked at others and saw even a speck of humanity beyond the bad? God said that even a mustard seed of faith is enough. And such a tiny seed can be seen so easily through a heart-colored microscope!