The Blanket Fort

Part 6 of the Series “Writing From ‘A to Z'”

I’ve been pretty beaten down by life lately.  I am not above whining, although it annoys me when others do it (my son is excellent at it).  Without getting into details, I ask you to take my word for it.  This is real stuff.  While, I’m not above whining, I generally try to avoid it.  I focus on being positive and grateful, in the worst circumstances.  Still, joy has been zapped out of me the last few days.  I know if I let this go on too long, nothing good can come of it.

I also know myself well enough to know if I get in a slump and don’t write, that it will snowball and this little blog I’ve been working on will fizzle out and die.  I think it’s okay to show that you’re not up, up, up all the time, but how does someone who focuses on the inspirational write when all she wants to do is complain?

I’ve been working on this “A to Z” series, and I’ve been stuck on the letter “F”.  There is the obvious Queen Mother of Dirty Words, but writing a blog about the “F” word really isn’t my style and not what I’m going for.  Some positive words come to mind:  faith, family, fun . . . I had ideas for all of these, and faith is the focus of my life, but an article just wasn’t coming.  I was gravitating toward the more negative:  frustration, fear, fake, fight . . . Again, not the stuff inspiration is made of.

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One of my favorite photos of my daughter and me. My son took it in our first sheet fort.

Then, the word “fort” came to mind.  I thought of the blanket forts (actually most of them are made of sheets, but let’s not get too technical) I’ve made with my kids, especially the first one, and I started to feel some of my joy returning.

It made me realize, it’s when things get complicated that we become emotionally drained.  Things at work and in over-scheduling the kids, buying toys, even picking out our clothes, drain our energy.  I’m not saying my kids will stop participating in soccer, that I’ll buy seven of the same outfit, or quit buying my kids toys.  But, perhaps focusing on and appreciating the simple things will motivate me to make some different decisions, even if I start off with baby steps.

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Look at that happy face.

A couple of years ago, I had an unexpected day off of work.  The kids and I had nothing to do for a change, and I remembered how my brothers and I used to make forts using chairs and blankets.  So silly really, but there was something so fun in sitting inside a makeshift tent in the living room.

When my son was still an only child and we lived in town, he and I would frequently walk along the sidewalks in our neighborhood.  It was special time together, and it was such a regular thing, that our neighbors told me they would watch for me and my cute two-year old to walk in front of their house.  They commented that he was at such a cute age, and having grown children of their own, they talked about how quickly he would change from that adorable toddler.  As I always say, I am biased, but he was the cutest little guy.

On these walks, it was definitely the journey that was important and not the destination.  I guess that goes without saying, since our starting point (home) was the same as our destination.  He made the journey so much fun at that age, picking up dandelions and sweeping the sidewalk with them.  Sometimes he would pick up a rock or a stick and bring it home with such delight.  I would laugh that we spent so much money on toys, and his favorites were a rock and a stick.

A couple years later, and the act of simply moving chairs from the dining room the living room delighted my children.  Putting a sheet over the top so they could sit inside and run through it about sent them over the edge with excitement.

A couple of months ago, I bought my son a toy to make forts.  It looked simple enough.  Some poles and little pieces with holes to put the poles together.  Then you throw a sheet over it, and what fun, right?  Wrong!  The pieces don’t fit easily together.  Once assembled, it’s flimsy and falls apart easily, and when it’s not assembled, I have to fight with my son to put the pieces back in the box or we’re tripping all over them.  Once again, I took the simple and complicated it by buying this “great” toy.

One of the things our children want and love the most is simply for us to spend time with them.  While I don’t see my son giving up his complex Lego kits anytime soon, sometimes it’s so nice to take a step away from all of that and appreciate rocks, sticks, chairs and sheets.

Please Don’t Be So Eager To Grow Up

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My daughter welcoming her brother home after his first day of Kindergarten

Part 5 of the Series “Writing From ‘A To Z'”

I just had the most horrifying thing happen.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  I had something kind of bizarre, disappointing, and in a way sort of amusing happen.

I had this post pretty well mapped out in my mind.  I usually spend two or three days working out an idea, and then I crank it out pretty quickly once I begin typing.

Here’s a bit of a tangent, but it will all come together, I promise.  My only time alone to write, or watch TV, or pay bills, or accomplish much of anything really, is at night, after the kids are in bed.  Since I fall asleep next to my son at his bedtime more often than not, it’s hard for me to keep up!  I actually fell asleep next to him tonight, but woke up around 10:30, so I decided to get up and watch some of the nuggets waiting for me on the DVR, surf the web a bit, tie up some of my blog related commitments, and maybe write a little.

My husband would probably say I should be embarrassed about this, but I know I’m not alone here.  More than half of what I DVR falls within the realm of reality TV.  It’s partially because it doesn’t require a great deal of attention, so I can get other things done while it’s on.  Maybe it’s also because no one else in the house likes it (and some of it is not really appropriate for the kiddos), so it’s something just for me.

A short while ago, I was catching up on an episode of “Southern Charm” and decided to check out Kathryn Calhoun Dennis’ facebook page.  For those who watch the show, I probably don’t need to say more.  For those who don’t, she’s young, a little bit of a mess, beautiful, wears some cool clothes, and posts cute photos of her daughter.  I don’t follow her page, but from time to time, I just visit it to see if she has any cute photos or comments about the show.  So, I was scrolling down her page and saw that she had a video of the song “Slow Down” by Nichole Nordeman posted.  This was weird, because I was planning to include something about this song in my post.  You see, I heard it on KLOVE the other day, and I almost burst into tears on my way to work.  Here’s a link to the video if you want to see why.  Slow Down.

At first I thought, that’s so cool!  This will make it easier to find the lyrics or post a link.  But, when I clicked on it, I found that it was a blog.  The wind was taken out of my sails.  Then I saw a comment about the cliche, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  I was going to include that too!  Wait.  What?  I thought I was so original!  My post was pretty much already done, by someone else!

Sigh.  Oh well.  What to do now?  Forget the whole thing, or make some lemonade.  I still have some things to say about this topic, but in an effort to not make this post an hour’s long read (which means it won’t be read at all), I better get to it.

My son is 10 days away from finishing up Kindergarten, and my daughter will be starting preschool in the Fall.  I know my daughter will love it.  It’s just two mornings per week, and she accompanied her Dad when he picked our son up from this school, so she is ready, ready, ready!

My son’s change to the status of a first-grader causes me a bit more sadness.  It was exactly one year ago (I saw the photos on my facebook memory feed this morning) that my son graduated from preschool.  I was quite sentimental about it.  We loved this school, and it was such a wonderful experience for him.  I remember asking him if he would miss it, and his response, was “No.  I’m ready for my new school.”  Boo.  I guess I’m alone here.  Fine.  Time to move forward.

When I was a kid, Kindergarten was half day.  I thought this would be a great transition for him.  But, here and now, it’s full day.  From the time the bus picks him up until it drops him off, he is gone 8 hours.  That is too long for a little guy!  He was so very excited the first day the bus picked him up.  That night, I was excited for him and asked how it went.  He said, “It’s too long!”  My heart broke.  Since then, we have seen some of his old preschool teachers here and there, and he has told me he misses his old school.

He likes his teacher, and even his bus driver, and I do too.  But, Kindergarten is a lot more demanding than it used to be.  He has changed so much this year.  He’s learned a lot, and that’s good.  But, maybe he’s a little sadder and wiser too.

A couple of months ago my son was asking what happens after elementary school.  I told him Middle School.  He said he couldn’t wait to go to Middle School because then he would be a grown up.  My daughter, always the original, said “I want to go to side school!”  She is hilarious.

I see, in my children, this constant eagerness to grow up.  I had it too. One morning, when my son left for school, my daughter was crying because she wanted to go too.  I told her that I remember being her age and being so sad watching through the window as my brothers walked to the bus stop, because I wanted to go too.  I then snapped my fingers and said, “And just like that, I’m 44!”  She didn’t get it, but one day she will.

We all know, adulthood is not as grand and wonderful as we thought it would be.  Knowing what we know now, most of us would stay in childhood a little (or a lot) longer.

But, it’s not to be.  God obviously created us to want to grow into adulthood.  I so enjoy watching my children grow and become their own people.  But, they also become more independent and need us less all the time, and that is hard on us Mamas.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Dreams, or Kick Them to the Curb?

IMG_3782Part 4 of the Series “Writing From ‘A To Z'”

I was probably like most kids, dreaming about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I grew up in the 70’s, and while there were more women working than ever before, the message I got was that a female from a working class family had limited options.  One dream I had was to be a teacher, but that requires a college education.  No one in my family had gone to college, so that seemed out of my reach.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I told a guy, who I later ended up dating, that I was not planning to go to college.  He was exasperated.  I don’t remember his exact words, but he said something like, “What?  Not go to college?  Don’t you want to amount to anything!?”  How do you respond to that?  I think I said something really intelligent, like “Uh . . .”, and then crickets.  He was from a much more affluent family, and it was expected that everyone go to college, even the girls.

I don’t subscribe to this idea that you have to go to college to amount to anything.  I know plenty of successful people who did not finish college, or didn’t go at all.  Some of them contribute more than others with degrees.  That said, his harsh words did make me think about it.  I started to think maybe there were more possibilities for my future than I realized.  I found that a state university was within my grasp.

It was 1989, and college was a lot more affordable then.  I decided to go, partially because by the time I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My parents paid the lion’s share of the tuition; I worked for spending money and incidentals.

I decided to major in Psychology early on, because I had always been interested in human behavior.  I quickly learned that it was difficult to make much money with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology (difficult, but not impossible).  So, I started dreaming about earning a Master’s degree.  I went on to graduate school right away, because I thought if I started working full-time, I would never reach achieve my goal.  I did it, and I got a career position right away.

I had thought I would perhaps get a Ph.D., but at 24, I was burned out with school and ready to make some money.  Maybe later.  I was in my late 20’s when I decided I really had no need for a Ph.D.  I was happy with my work, so that was a dream I was ready to let go of.

In my 30’s, I realized I didn’t have any more career dreams that I wanted to achieve.  I’d gotten my education, and I was satisfied with my level of career success.  I found this really depressing.

It was around that time that I started kicking around the idea of writing a book.  I even bought my first laptop (it was 2004) with that idea in mind.  I did some writing, but it never went anywhere.  The idea of trying to get published was too intimidating.  The more I read about the process, the more intimidated I became.

It wasn’t long after that, my personal life took over.  I had broken my back in 1998, and that had thrown a wrench into my progress in that area of my life.  When I was around 34, I started realizing that I needed to decide if having a family was something I really wanted.  I decided it was, and I started getting serious about focusing on that part of my life.

I got married at 36, and we both wanted a child right away.  I had my son three weeks after my 38th birthday.  As my son grew, I decided it was important to me that he have a sibling.  I had learned, through my trials, that no one is there for you like your family, and I wanted him to to have that.  Three weeks before my son’s third birthday, we had our daughter.

So, what is the moral of this story?  I think it’s okay to abandon some dreams.  Sometimes we outgrow them.  If, after self-reflection, we decide that a goal bouncing around in our brain is important to us, we have to take action to pursue it.  Some dreams, like having children for a woman, can’t be put on hold for too long.  Others, we can put on the back burner for a while.  If we focus too much on our goals and the future, we can forget to live in the moment and be grateful for what we have right now.

I have started dreaming again.  Taking this step to start a blog has reawakened my dream of writing a book.  It would be a very different book than the one I envisioned 12 years ago, and I think that is how it’s supposed to be.  With the popularity of electronic books, putting your work out there is relatively easy.  I dream of going to Jerusalem, at the top of my destination list, and a number of other cities and countries.  I dream about raising children who are emotionally stable with a strong faith in God.  I have taken action toward making all of these dreams come true.

I think we need dreams to give us hope for the future.  Ultimately, I put them in God’s hands.  Lauren Daigle is a Christian musician who writes her own music, and displays wisdom well beyond her 24 years.  One of my favorite songs is her, “I Will Trust In You”.  The first line of the song is:  “Letting go of every single dream.  I lay each one down at your feet.”  This may seem contrary to my point that we need dreams.  I believe that God puts dreams on our heart to fulfill a purpose.  I just pray for my eyes, ears, and heart to be open to His guidance about which dreams to follow and how.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Favorite Color?

Part 3 of the Series “Writing From ‘A To Z'”

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As an adult, you probably aren’t asked this question very often. But, for kids, this becomes very important. Of course, when they’re very young, they are learning their colors. Then, they learn to mix colors to make new ones.  They learn to spell the names of colors, and they pick most toys, clothes, etc., based on the color.

Let’s just get this out of the way upfront.  My favorite color is green.  Green represents new life and rejuvenation to me. It’s the most versatile of all colors in the variety of emotions felt from different shades.  Of course, there is the green of grass and trees.  We have had a great deal of rain this Spring here in the Midwest, and it’s just green, green, green.  It’s quite beautiful.  There is the vibrant green of an emerald, the very bold neon green, the traditional feeling of a home interior decorated in forest green, the cheeriness of kelly green. . . I could go on and on.

That said, my car is dark blue, my wedding colors were pink and taupe, and Fall is my favorite season.  I’m a complex being; what can I say?

As I said, as adults, our favorite color is not generally part of the conversation.  There are some exceptions.  For example, I work with a lady who loves purple.  She painted her office purple!  I can understand why she likes it, because it is a beautiful color.  She told me she has always been drawn to it, and if she has the choice, she always picks purple.  She has a signature color, and those of us who know her, think of her when we see it.  I think that’s cool.  I think there is something about purple lovers . . . those who love it seem to really love it!

With children, as I said, color is a huge part of the conversation.  In thinking about favorite colors, it got me to thinking about how our favorites may represent our personality.  Maybe not the color choice itself, but how we came to choose it.  I would say I’ve been a commitment-phobe my entire life.  Pink was my favorite color as a child, and then yellow and green as a combo because my Mom decorated my room in those colors (hey, it was the 70’s).  I’m not really sure when I settled on green.  I’ve stuck with it, but not all that whole-heartedly.

Then, there’s my purple-loving friend.  She’s an “all in” kind of person in some ways, and there are things about that which I admire.

Now on to my kids, because they teach me so much.  My son’s current favorite color is green.  He changes occasionally, but usually comes back to it.  He has told me, at times, that he likes it because it is my favorite color.  That’s sweet, but like his Mama, he tends to be a “people-pleaser”.  We people-pleasers get bad reps.  I mean, we get things done, we’re reliable, good listeners, etc.  But, it can be hard on us at times.  Sometimes we take on more than we should, and we can’t live up to our own expectations.  I see a lot of myself in my son.  I tell him he should pick the color he likes and not choose one to please me.  Tonight, I asked why he liked green.  He told me, “Everything in the world is green right now!”

My 3-year-old daughter is very different from me, and I enjoy seeing the world through her eyes.  She marches to the beat of her very own drummer.  It can be difficult to rein her in at times, but mostly, it’s delightful.  She will tell me five different colors are her favorite in a day’s time.  Tonight I asked what her favorite color is today, and she said, “Red, blue, pink.  I also like purple, green and orange!”  Her brother asked her about black, white and gray.  Those are her favorites too, and she pointed out that per pants were gray.

You see, whatever color she is using or viewing right now is the most beautiful.  To live in the moment and be joyful about what’s in front of you right now.  What a wonderful concept to learn from a child.  If only we could all learn to look at the world in the same way.

 

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What’s In Your Backyard?

Part 2 of the Series “Writing From ‘A To Z'”

Traveling is a passion of mine.  I love seeing new places, but with small children it has been a challenge.  When I have met natives on my travels, I find it funny that they often don’t go to the attractions in the area, because they’re just a part of home and they take them for granted.  Sometimes we can miss things in our own backyard.  I decided to take some time to appreciate some of the interesting, beautiful and/or unique things within 10 miles of my home.

We live in a rural area, so it may seem there isn’t much to see.  But, I love the Midwest and knew I could find many worthwhile things practically in my backyard!

Aquarium

My journey started literally inside my home.  I kind of hate to brag on my husband and his aquarium because it has distracted him from finishing my basement!  But, as he works on getting his salt water tank up and running, I have to admit, he has added some very interesting creatures.

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Sea Mushroom
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Ricordia. This poor little guy was eaten by one of the star fish today!
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Starfish. Very interesting to watch these little guys move around the tank.

Literally – My Backyard

Last evening the kids and I walked around the pond behind our house.  The pond was lousy with frogs a week ago, so I figured I could get some interesting shots of them, but they were all hiding!  I couldn’t figure out why!

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I finally found this little guy, and was taking the photo, when my son started yelling to come where he was because there were a bunch of tadpoles. I didn’t even notice this tadpole next to the frog when I took the picture.
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Look at all of these tadpoles! It looks like we will soon have a bazillion frogs!
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As you can see, the kids love looking at and throwing rocks and sticks into the pond. Free entertainment. I’m all about free!
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A pretty shot of the cattails and the pond.
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When we got home, I stepped on the deck to let the dog out and saw our friends, the cranes, were visiting. I still had the camera in my pocket from our trip around the pond. This is our fourth Spring here, and one of the cranes has been coming since the first year. My husband named him “Steve” for some reason. Then his “girlfriend” joined him. Steve and his girlfriend have made this spot their “summer home”.

Bison Farm

There bison farm a mile up the road from our house.  Fascinating animals, and much healthier than cow’s beef.  Did you know the bison is the only mammal that does not get cancer?

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I was hoping to catch photos of the bison running through the field, because it is something to see, especially when there are baby bison in the group. Unfortunately, when I was there to take photos, it was in the evening, when they’re fenced into a smaller area.

The Drive In

This Drive In Theater is about 4 miles from our house.  I believe there are only 5 drive in theaters in our state, and around 335 in the Unites States.

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Old Barn Converted Into An Awesome House

About five miles down the road.

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The barn was built in 1910 and converted into a house over 1996 and 1997. The residents operate Sweetland Farmstead, LLC – a vineyard and winery. They also sell fruit, vegetables and home decor items. When I was a kid, my Mom always talked about her desire to turn a barn into a house, so this house intrigued me from the first time I saw it.

Wildcat Den State Park

This beautiful state park is about 9 miles from our house.

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Spring is such a beautiful time to visit this lovely park.
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Such a peaceful place.

Grist Mill

This Grist Mill is attached to Wildcat Den State Park.

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This Grist Mill opened in 1850 and is still operational, although I think only for the sake of tourists. Many folks come here to fish (see the little dude by the corner of the building?).
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This old one room school is on the premises of the Grist Mill. They’ll even let you ring the bell!

So, what’s in your backyard?  If you live in a city, within even a mile, I’m sure you can find some things worth learning more about!  I enjoyed this little journey, and I hope it inspires you to look around for exciting places and things near your home!

 

A Is For Alphabet

001 (2)Part 1 of the Series “Writing From ‘A To Z'”

I read a wonderful blog post about failure recently. I have been reading so many blogs, reciprocating comments as I try to build my traffic, that I, sadly cannot remember where I saw it.  The blogger had attempted to meet a challenge to write a post every single day that was about something that started with each letter of the alphabet.  In the end, she decided she couldn’t keep up with it, and, in her opinion, the quality of her posts was suffering.  She had a great attitude about learning from failure that I agree with wholeheartedly.  Her experience made me think of this C.S. Lewis quote:  “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

But, I have been thinking about this challenge quite a bit.  While I have not received this challenge, I have decided to do a series of posts based on the letters of the alphabet.  I recall, many years ago, reading that a famous author (I don’t remember who it was now . . . do you see that my poor memory is a bit of a challenge?), said that, in order to be successful, you must commit to writing five hours per day.  Of course, writing was his full-time job, and I don’t have that luxury.  But, I do agree with some of his comments that you can’t always wait for inspiration.  You see, you may be waiting a very long time.  I think, with blogging, if you have long periods of no content, you lose your audience.  On the other hand, as that blogger found, if you force it too much, quality suffers.

So, I am not going to try for one post a day.  In addition, I may interrupt the series if I do feel a stroke of inspiration that does not follow the alphabet.  If I decide it’s not working, I may abandon the idea altogether.  How’s that for lack of commitment?! Maybe that is why I didn’t get married until I was 36 and “Perhaps” has become my favorite response to every question!

However, in thinking about it for several days, I believe this is something that could stretch me a bit (always good for growth) and I have several blog ideas that I have been kicking around that I can incorporate into this challenge for myself.

And now, this gives me an opportunity for a Mommy story that ties in nicely with the alphabet, and Mommy stories have been lacking on this (Not Just Another) Mommy Blog.

My 6 year old son and I have had a tradition for years, where I read him books before bed, and then sing some songs.  His 3 year old baby sister joined our ritual many months ago.  I tried something different two or three weeks ago that I thought would be kind of fun.  My son is in Kindergarten, learning to read and write.  He is a little obsessed with learning to spell words.  So, I suggested, instead of songs, we play a game.  We each say a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  A few nights later, his sister joined us.

My son was very good at this game from the start.  It has been fun to hear the different words he thinks of.  His sister, on the other hand, didn’t quite get it.  So, for “A”, I might say “alphabet”.  My son would say “amazing”.  My daughter would say, “unicorn!” with great enthusiasm.  We tried correcting her and explaining the game.  We would get to “D” and I might say “door”, my son might say, “dark” and my daughter would say “basketball!”.  This tickled me so, and she loved hearing me giggle when she strayed from the rules of the game.  I decided to stop correcting her, and just let her play it her way, because I knew she would learn it all too soon and the amusement of her saying whatever she wanted would fade much too quickly.

Sure enough, it was only about three nights later that she began playing correctly, and I was a little sad.  But, joyously, that only lasted a few nights.  She has now decided to make up nonsense words.  As usual, my son and I say a word that fits in the with rules, but when we get to “G”, she says “Galockula”!  Her brother, who is very much a follow-the-rules-to-a-fault kind of a kid (a little too much like is mother in worrying about doing everything right) has started following his sister’s lead and making up words.  Unfortunately both of their nonsense words often end in “poopy” or “butt” because that, of course, makes everything funnier to 6 and 3 year olds.  Or, is it fortunately?  I don’t know.  I’m just enjoying the ride.

This Very Strange Blogging World

IMG_1920I started blogging about six weeks ago, and it has been quite a journey already.

Did you know there is a blogging sub-community out there? I didn’t, but I sure do now! It is very active and it is full of wonderful people, users, braggers, helpers and people who try to put in minimum input for maximum rewards. It’s just like real life, full of unwanted drama and beautiful surprises.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time.  When I finally took the plunge,  I jumped in and posted, with a rather amateurish looking site (still is. . . I’m learning as I go along), and an unclear picture of what would develop.

I thought, if I wrote thoughtful posts that inspired, traffic would come.  I still do.  But, it is much more work than I realized!  I mistakenly believed that I could pin my posts on Pinterest and, like many of my other original pins, my posts would be re-pinned and I would have instant traffic!  How wrong I was!

Trying to build traffic quickly is beyond a full-time job, and some people take it very seriously.  I, however, have another full-time job, a husband, and two small children.  So, I have to accept that my blog will have to grow slowly, if it grows at all.

My group of followers can hardly be called a group.  You see, it includes myself, my mother-in-law, and the very kind blogger who nominated me for Liebster Award.  Need I say more?  Part of the problem could be that I did not have a place on my blog where people could sign up to follow me (thank you very much to my mother-in-law for alerting me to this fact!). The other problem is that I just have not yet figured out the best way to build traffic.  But, all learning experiences are good, right?

In six weeks, I have had over 400 visits to my blog.  More importantly, currently I have had 123 visitors.  To me, that’s not too bad.  But, then I see others who say they have 10,000 followers in their first month and I feel a little discouraged.  This is when the little lesson I’ve learned called, “Don’t Compare Yourself To Others”, comes in handy.

Now, on to some really excellent things that have happened in this journey.  I have had personal contact with people from all over the United States, and a few from other countries because of this blog.  I have been asked to help some people and contribute.  I have had visitors from over 20 countries, including Greece, Australia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, and the Czech Republic.  I find it amazing and terrifying that people all over the world have read my thoughts about my insecurities and triumphs.  I have already succeeded in expressing myself, touching some people, and from some comments, even inspiring, which is my ultimate goal.

I have learned about blogging groups on facebook, and that I need to maintain my integrity, by following through with commitments.  I have learned that, as with everything, I need to pray before and during every post. . . that if it’s meant to be something, then it will be.

My biggest failure so far is that my posts are currently only reaching other bloggers, for the most part.  So, the next step is making my blog known to the “real” people in my life.  Here goes nothing . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is A Dream Job Everything?

IMG_3791I finished my Master’s Degree by 24, and landed my first “dream job” as a Human Resources Manager shortly before my 25th birthday.  My life seemed to be right on track.  My career progressed as I wanted, and I eventually became a regional manager.  I was in that job for nine years, and there was a lot about it I loved, most of all the fact that I could pretty much make my own schedule and I was using and developing my skills in training and coaching.  I held that job when I got married and for the first two years of my son’s life.  While I could make my own schedule when things were going well, when things weren’t, I had to pick up the slack or go out of town without notice to handle an employee situation.  Most of the time, those instances were rare.

My position was eliminated after almost 12 years with the company, and I took another management role, this time with a national retailer.  The hours were awful, and I had zero input about my schedule.  I also became pregnant in between receiving the job offer and starting in the position.  My husband and I were thrilled, as we wanted one more child, and I wasn’t getting any younger (I was 40), but I wasn’t sure how our good news would be received by my boss!  The 10 hour days took their toll on my ankles as I continued to get larger!  About 6 months into my pregnancy, I was informed that, due to a company-wide restructure, this job would also be eliminated!  They offered me an outstanding severance package, and frankly, I was happy to walk away.  We had broken ground on our new house about 10 days earlier, and while I was relieved to be done with working every weekend, I couldn’t believe I had lost two jobs within a year’s time.

I decided to become a Financial Advisor because I thought I would be good at financial planning and I loved the idea of setting my own schedule.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make my fourth quarter quota, and I once again found myself looking for a job in 2014.  I had interviews for two very good Human Resources positions and got second interviews for both jobs.  I didn’t land either job.  After selling myself for a year as a Financial Advisor, and now selling myself for a new job, I was emotionally exhausted.

So, I decided it was time to just get a plain old job.  I went through a temporary service and eventually landed the job I am in now.  I have been in a job as an Administrative Assistant for over a year and a half.

I’ve had to do some soul searching in continuing in a position that pays far less than what I have been used to, and certainly does not come with the “clout” I once had.  I came to the realization that often what I was seeking was more due to my pride than the financial needs of my family, and more importantly, the need my family has for my presence.

While I miss my old pay check and the influence I used to have, I have gained some great gifts through this job.

I have been humbled by some of the work I have been asked to do and the lack of authority I have.  I’m not saying this as a negative.  Often, being humbled is an opportunity for growth.  For one thing, if I ever become a manager again, while I feel I was generally respectful to my employees as a manager, perhaps I will have a different perspective.

I have flexibility in my schedule to attend my son’s school events.

My boss treats me well and was very understanding and accommodating during a devastating personal loss I experienced this year.

My co-workers are like family and I can be myself.  I have usually been the boss.  While I feel I forged some strong relationships with my reports in the past, I always had to keep a little distance.  Now I’m the low person on the totem pole, so I can be more real.

I have been able to exceed expectations.  Because I have experience in multi-tasking and getting things done working with people with a variety of personalities and work styles, I have been able to achieve things beyond what has been expected.  I have been asked to help out with projects and in other departments.

I’ve learned that any job is truly what you make it.  When I feel my pride getting in the way, I remind myself that I am being paid to do a job, I’m not “too good” for what I am being asked to do, and what is being requested is not illegal or unethical, so why have a bad attitude?  There is no reason, so I just do the best job I can.

I believe the old saying, that particularly applies to women, “You can have it all.  You just can’t have it all at once.”  Am I in my dream job?  No.  I have some talents that I don’t feel I’m using right now.  But, I don’t get phone calls after I have left work, and I am able to spend uninterrupted time with my family.  I can’t think of a dream sweeter than that.

 

 

Liebster Award

liebster awardMy nominator put this so well, I have simply copied her description: “The purpose of the virtual award is to welcome new bloggers to the blogging community. It is given by fellow new bloggers who have been in the blog world for less than 2 years and have fewer than 1000 followers. It is a great way for us to connect and support each other while introducing readers to awesome new blogs!”

Thank you very much to Deanndra for nominating me! She even became my very first “Follower”! Her blog is Sunshine. Daisies. Messy Babies. Check it out.

I am to answer a list of questions, provided by Deanndra, and to nominate five others.  I will list their blogs and my list of questions for them at the end.  Please take a moment to view their blogs.  You’ll be glad you did.  Perhaps I’ll gain a little inspiration for a future post in answering Deanndra’s great questions!

What is your dream vacation?

Before I got married, and during our first year of marriage, I managed to travel quite a bit.  The kids make that a little more difficult.  However, we got our first flight with the kids under out belt in December, and we have another one booked in June.

I’ll have to answer this in two categories:  with the kids, and without the kids.

When the kids get a little older, I would like to go back to Washington D.C.  I went there for a few days in my early 30’s, but didn’t get to see everything I wanted.  There is so much to see, and I found it to be very humbling.

The hubby and I have been dreaming about going to Jerusalem for a while.  Hopefully that dream will become a reality one of these days.

What are 3 things you never leave home without?

Cell phone.  Water.  Breath mints.

What is your dream job?

Goodness.  This is a loaded question.  This could be the inspiration for a post.  For now, I’ll just say, after having the jobs I thought I was aspiring to, changing jobs, and having two jobs eliminated within a year, I am now in a job that I am over-qualified for.  However, it is relatively stress-free and gives me lots of flexibility to attend my kids’ events.  So, I’ll stick with it for a while.  But, lately, I’ve been feeling like I might be getting a calling to be a Biblical Counselor.  At 44, I’m still figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up!

Red or white wine?

Both! (In moderation, of course!)

Where do you think you’ll be in 5 years?

As far as where I’ll physically be – I hope to live in my Midwest home for the rest of my life!  Regarding where I’ll be job-wise – please see my response to the “dream job” question!

Whats one thing your reader might not know about you?

I am an introvert.  I like people, but I find small talk exhausting at times.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing!

Whats your tv guilty pleasure?

All  of the “Real Housewives” shows, “Southern Charm” and “Dancing with the Stars”.

If you could move to a new country, where would you go?

Perhaps New Zealand or Australia.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

I would pay off my house.

What is one piece of advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Value yourself and honor God in your actions.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to face as a new blogger and how did you overcome it?

The same hurdle everyone has – getting views and followers!  I’ve joined a number of groups and finally got my facebook page started.

Personally, I struggle in putting myself out there and keeping it real, without getting too personal or sharing to much personal information about the people in my life.

And the nominees are. . .

Jon at The Wilds:  Exploring the Wilderness

Chani at Chani Gets Healthyy

Yana at careerchickturnedmom

Bechaza at Hugs Homemade

Shanna at RHF Media

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to answer these questions on your blog, nominate 5 others and develop 11 questions for them.

Why did you decide to start blogging?

Who is the most important person in your life?

What is the most important thing in your life?

What are some things you have found that have inspired you in your writing?

What was a mistake you have made, and what did you learn from it?

What are your life goals?

What has been your most satisfying success related to blogging so far?

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

What is your favorite book and why?

What are some of your favorite blogs?

If you could be any kind of tree, what tree would you be?  Just kidding.  What are a few blogs you follow and why?

Thank you very much and best wishes to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Anxiety of Putting Yourself Out There

SAM_0450I started this blog for a number of reasons. Full disclosure – yes, I would like to gain a big enough following to get advertisers and make some extra money. That would be awesome! But, I also wanted a place to write, because it does seem to be therapeutic for me. Finally, and most importantly, I wanted to connect with others and offer help, hope, and inspiration.

But, as I mentioned in a previous post, I wondered what I would have to offer that would be unique and worthwhile.  My family situation is a little unique, but perhaps it’s really our commonalities that make us most appealing.

Even though I have only been doing this a short time, I have already doubted myself and some of my posts.  The next day at work, I find myself questioning if I should have said this or that.  But, then I remind myself that the times that I have allowed myself to be most vulnerable have been most rewarding.

I was discussing this with a friend the other day (free plug to her business here:  http://www.tina-rina.com/).  I told her that I had started blogging and it is kind of scary.  But, that I knew if I wanted it to amount to anything, that I was going to have to take the risk and be real (mixed in with some recipes!  But I figure those are real too because I plan to only post things that are extremely easy for those of us who are busy and sometimes just plain worn out).  She was there during a presentation I gave a few months ago where I talked about overcoming anxiety.  In my presentation, I didn’t hold back about some of the unhealthy ways I had tried to cope and some of the negative thoughts I had during that difficult time in my life.  The topic was so well received and participation so active, that I only got through half of my material.  She and I agreed that the reason is because people want to know they are not alone. . . that we are normal in our weirdness.

So, I’ll put my weirdo light out there to find the other weirdos whenever I feel moved to.  And, I guess if I feel some anxiety about it, I’ll take that to mean I have put out something real and hopefully that means it has the potential to be worthwhile.

All of this deep thought got me to thinking about how important it is to put ourselves out there, in big and small ways.  A couple years ago, I went through a season of doing what I thought were really thoughtful things for others, and getting zero acknowledgement for any of it, not even small thank yous.  I tried to stay positive, reminding myself that God saw my efforts, even if they weren’t noticed by others.  And, the things we do for people shouldn’t be for the “thanks”, but it still hurt, and I still got a little down about it.  Then, out of the blue, I got a very sincere thank you for something I did not expect to be noticed.

One thing I learned from this is to take that moment to thank someone if they have touched me positively in some way.  To take that moment to send an email to let someone know what they did or said made a difference, that it mattered to me.  I also know that the negative things we say make a difference too, so we must choose our words wisely and kindly.

I have gifts to offer, and so do you.  What you say and do matters, even if it’s not acknowledged right away.  You may surprised by the rewards you receive in unexpected places.