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!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Breaking the Fear Bone

I went to the Greater Philly Christian Writer's Conference this week- it was chock full of classes, workshops, sessions and appointments- so much so, that I need a few days to recuperate after I came home!

The classes were awesome (though I missed the main one I wanted to attend due to appointments- good thing Torry Martin said I could buy his book- Shameless Self-Promotion!) I did manage to get an appointment with him, though. I had to admit, seeing him face-to-face, I wanted that long red hair he has. Gorgeous! Since the appointment we had was only fifteen minutes, I asked the only question I was desperate to have answered, "How do you get up on stage when you're scared to death?"
His answer? "Just go up and do it."

Egad. the man was a hack. Where was the list of breathing exercises? The "Rah-rah-you can-do-it" speech? The "Just call me anytime day or night and I'll help you launch your career" support? And why didn't trumpets from God sound when he said these supposed words of wisdom? I took this all in stride and thought maybe, just maybe I could learn more from his classes. (And his hair really is that gorgeous in real life).

Ah, well. Maybe the rest of the week will be fruitful.

It was.

Occasionally I was given the opportunity to bless others. I was looking for a seat for services when I noticed one lady rubbing her arms and shivering. I asked if she was okay and she mouthed the words "Peri-menopause cold flash". I smiled, because at that very moment I was having a major hot flash, so I offered to sit next to her. After a few minutes she smiled and leaned in to whisper "Thank you, I'm much warmer now!" 

Just using what God gave me, sweetie...just using what God gave me. In the meantime, the audio faculty was sitting in the booth above me toasting s'mores over my head. I was glad to help.

Sometimes you learn lessons outside the classroom, and blessing others can mean blessing yourself- in unexpected ways.

After overhearing some of the faculty lament over how stressed they were, I shared with them my "100% Surefire Way to Get Rid of Stress and Nervousness". Marlene Bagnull, the Ringmaster of this particular circus, liked it so much she asked me to show my technique to the entire audience of conferees during the morning services.

I'm sorry....what?

Go up in front of everyone, and do my silly little technique? Didn't this woman know when I get up in front of a crowd, I'm somewhere between bed-wetting and a near-death experience? Apparently not. Then God whispered in my ear.."Remember what Torry said."

Just go up and do it? Oh please God, tell me you're kidding! My knees went to jelly just thinking about it!

So stop thinking about it and just do it.

Yes, Sir.

Marlene was nice enough to give me a code word that would cue me to "interrupt" her announcements. Otherwise I would have just sat there and forgot what I was supposed to do. I tried boosting my confidence before the announcements.

Just get up and do it. You can do it. You can. You might need a mop afterwards, but you can do this. Just thank God that the floors are tiled and not carpeted.

Then Marlene said the code word. I was up!

Inside I was a mess of nerves. So nervous that I didn't even use my own technique to get rid of it! But I got up, did my spiel, and was surprised to hear...laughter! And applause! I did it! I did it! I just got up and did it!

Torry Martin is a GENIUS! I'm buying all of his books!

The best part? After I did my technique, you could feel the entire room settle down- the tension was gone. I had helped the entire audience relax and settle their nerves. God is good, and my wall of fear crumbled into dust.

That fear has been a wall that's been up since I was in grade school when I froze on stage dressed as Shirley Temple (I was the only kid with naturally curly hair). It felt weird not having that wall there anymore. 

Oh, I had "battle nerves" after I sat down next to Marlene (I was shaking like a jackhammer), but an excitement ran through me that could only be God and the Holy Spirit saying "WOOHOO!"

During the rest of that day I had people coming to me and saying they saw their classmates using my technique before class. I was so tickled! When one person did it, everyone laughed, and it helped a lot of people settle down for their appointments (which can rattle anyone's nerves)! 

When Marlene began to play my video that evening, I heard soft gasps of delight as my face showed up on the screen- the conferees remembered me and were looking forward to the video. They loved it, and those sitting next to me made me get up and take a bow. I was grinning from ear to ear and my face felt flushed- and this time I wasn't in the middle of a hot-flash.

I felt like I could really reach out and touch people's hearts. I really could "just get up and do it". The wall of fear was down, and I could see the sun shine for the first time in decades. And it felt good.

Thank you Marlene, for putting up with an over-exuberant nutball. Thank you conferees, for being willing to laugh, to share, and for all the congratulatory hugs and handshakes. Thank you Torry, for listening and giving simple but powerful advice. You are so not a hack- but I still want your hair. I just wish I could have told you all this in person! (Not the hair part but the other part...you know what I mean!)

I have some nibbles on my book proposals, so I'll be working on them this week. As for this breakthrough? I'll be working on what to do with my new found confidence (and yes, something to do with those techniques I was talking about)- so watch out, world! Here I come!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't Know What You Got- Til It's on Vacation

My kids are driving me crazy.

Both are teens, and both are bored out of their skulls. Looking for new friends in the neighborhood consists of sticking their heads out the door, looking both ways and saying, "Nope! No one to play with, Mom! Can I watch a movie?"

Not to mention it's too hot/humid/rainy/sunny/windy outside. Sigh.

The summer days have been filled with bickering, bored teenagers- a parent's dream...NOT.

Then a reprieve. A family friend offered to take my daughter down the shore with her for a week. Who was I to deny my female offspring this treat? Not to mention when my daughter asked if she could go, her "Bambi-eyes" were bigger than dinner plates. Of course I said yes. From Saturday to Saturday she was going to be on vacation at the beach. I desperately wanted to hide in her luggage- I haven't been on vacation since our honeymoon seventeen years ago (and no dear, camping doesn't count).

After my not-so-little girl left, I realized something- I really depended on this kid as my household helper. She did a lot of chores (willingly, unlike the other teen I have who would happily sleep until it was bedtime again), and she helped me do a lot of other things, like tend the community and backyard gardens, take care of the cats, and chatter happily through the day, giving hug attacks whenever she walked by me.

Lord, I miss that girl. And it's only been three days!

My son, however, has also realized just how much his pain-in-the-butt sister helped him- now that he has "double duty". (He calls it that, but we're really sharing her chores...shh...don't tell him that though- he won't believe you). 
Because of his Aspergers, when he gets an idea in his head, it's hard to shake it. That can be good or bad, depending on the situation. In this case it's good, because he decided to step up to the plate and help more.

We worked out that if I give him a list and leave him alone, he does a much better job than me telling him what to do all the time. I'm happy to say that while my husband and i were out food shopping after church yesterday, he was left alone with his list- and we came home to a cleaner house.

Nothing makes a mom more proud and happy than seeing her kids do a good job- and knowing they have the ability to care for themselves when you're gone for a while. It's also comforting to know they have the skills to not live like a pig when they eventually leave the nest- and trust me, they will leave- either by design or by a parental foot to the rear.

Maybe by then my husband and I can afford another vacation!

In the meantime I'll wait for my baby to return and tell me about her adventures down the shore. I'll also let her know just how much I appreciate her help and her sunny disposition. I miss you, Sweetie!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Brain Age

I've done this. You've probably done this too. You want something. You think it's perfect for you, whatever it is. Then one of two things happen; one, you get disappointed if you don't get it, or two, you go into panic mode when you realize that if you do get it, it might be the biggest mistake ever, and you start praying not to get it.

That my friends, is what I call the "Brain Age" -when the brain goes from being a toddler (I want that, and that, and that) to adult ("I don't really need that, but would have liked it", or "what the heck was I thinking?!?")

That happened to me just this past month. Twice.

The first time was about my book. Not only did I have one agent interested, I had two- and both in the same agency. I was ecstatic. Imagine me, some newbie wannabe author snagging two agents in the same company? Oh baby, I was headed for the bookstores. I sent my proposals in the hopes of getting the interest of at least one of the agents.

Agent number one wasn't interested and asked if I could write about being a housewife. I was disappointed, but at least she thought I had potential, since she wanted to see me write about the grand and glorious lifestyle of the domestic artisan. I made a notation to gather information to write a housewifey book, and waited for agent number two to contact me.

A week later I received and email. It was a very nice email, telling me that my book was in too small a niche for him to sell. It was a book for women. He's a guy. And I had no idea women were becoming extinct. Ah well. At least he didn't think my book was moose drool. He liked my work, but he didn't feel he was the one to sell it. Fair enough.

So- They liked my writing, but it didn't fit their needs. I'm down, but not out. The potential is still there, which is good. Disappointing, but good.

Now for the second event. I was offered a chance to apply for a job. Full-time but temporary (a two month stint), it seemed perfect for me at the time. The phone interview went well, and I was slotted for a second interview face to face. I was going to nail this job- I just knew it.

The interview went well, up until he said a few "red flag" phrases like "Might be working Sundays", "Door to door four hours a day", and "Possibly every day if the numbers aren't met". It also didn't help that my hands would be deep within two events during the two months I was supposed to be working for them. One is a big community event I run (no second-in-command yet), and the second is a writer's conference I was destined to go to (lots of humorists). There was no way I was going to miss that sucker for anything.

It doesn't help that above the knee I'm not the fittest person on the planet- four hours of walking around strange neighborhoods? I might need a new body when the job was over. I also wasn't wired like he wanted me to be. I had to have a smart phone and a web camera for Skyping- whatever that is.

The job I had so desperately prayed for was something I now prayed fervently against. What on earth was I thinking? Yes the money would have been good- fantastic even- but at what other costs? It wasn't worth it to me to neglect my family, run myself ragged and jeopardize my writing career for extra cash.

God must have known this because I didn't hear a word from the guy since. Apparently I didn't get the job. It would have been nice if he'd at least called or emailed on that fancy smart phone he was brandishing about during the interview. Ah well. Maybe I ought to go into customer service as a coach instead.

My toddler brain is still mad that it didn't get what it wanted. But the adult brain just gave it something shiny by telling it "Psst- we still have the conference, and a lot of awesome people to meet!" and the toddler mind took that in both hands and is in a corner somewhere, hoarding it's precious trinket.

By now I've learned to pray that God's will be done, because my will ain't worth a burnt hot dog if what I want isn't meant for me- even if I think it is. God has better plans for me anyway. He just doesn't tell me because He knows the toddler brain will whine and cry and yank on his sleeve asking "Now? now? How about now?"