Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Random...

This is not political at all (though I did vote today!).

People need to realize that being great and being good are two different things.  Selfishness is not an attractive quality.  Not taking accountability for one's actions and words (or lack of one's actions and words) is not attractive. Blaming others for your own shortcomings is annoying.  Don't even get me started on being irresponsible.  Lies by omission are still lies--and in many ways, far more damaging than blatant lies.  Owning one's mistakes and misdeeds (both intentional and not) goes a long way in an apology.  Nonsense apologies are just that--nonsense.  No apology at all is way better than a half-hearted, insincere apology.  What makes a good apology?  Saying you're sorry, owning what you did wrong and sincerely accepting responsibility, making it right and finally, making sure it doesn't happen again.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Small Changes

After yet another cluster of difficult days and weeks, I finally just made up my mind to be in a good mood regardless of what's going on around me or how crabby other people are--what's that old saying?  Life's too short to spend with people who suck the joy out of you.

That is SO TRUE.

So I made a few small changes to boost my own mood, even if other people are intent on bringing me down.

  • Wearing high heels a few times a week to work...because I LOVE high heels.  Who cares if they make me way taller than all the men in my department?  I'm tall and heels make me taller.  They can deal with it.
  • Wearing bold lipstick.  Not trashy, but brighter/darker than the nudes and neutrals I wear.  Makes me feel like people pay more attention when I speak.  That's probably all in my head, but I'm surprisingly okay with that.
  • Embracing my curves and flaunting them with stylish clothes.  There's really no good reason for me to hide behind dark slacks and boxy sweaters. 
  • Making at least one person laugh every single day.  Laughter is contagious.  I highly recommend you catch some.
  • Stepping outside of my comfort zone at least once every single day.  This is hard, but I've been doing it.  And I'm genuinely surprised, in a good way, at the positive reception.  Turns out that I'm a pretty neat person when I let people see my hidden side. 
Go me!

Monday, October 01, 2012

What's the Secret?

It started with a black lace slip.

Back up for a minute.

It started with needing a neutral-colored bra. The slip came later.

So it started with bra shopping. 

I apologize for any men who are reading and now eye-rolling over the fact that I'm talking about bra shopping.  But c'mon, you'd probably rather read about it than be subjected to holding your wife's or girlfriend's purse while she tries them on, right?

Right.  So.  Bra shopping.  All I needed was a neutral/dark tan bra that would be invisible under a nice, white blouse for work.  I usually go to Kohl's for things like that, but was out of luck there, so I headed to Victoria's Secret. 

First, I need to point out that a regular bra at Victoria's Secret is cheaper than my preferred brand at Kohl's.  Interesting.

Anyhoodle, I found what I needed in a perfect size and was happy as a lark.  (Are larks happy?)  But as I was heading to the checkout line, a very feminine slip caught my eye.  Pretty, delicate, lightweight, a black lace/floral pattern.  I had no reason to make such a purchase, but I was drawn to it.

It's like it shouted, "PICK ME!"

And then it shrieked, "LOOK!  I'M IN YOUR SIZE!"

And then the coup de grace..."AND I'M ON SALE!!"

With very little forethought or intention, I picked it up and draped it over my arm.  There was something about it, without even wearing it, that made me feel like a lady.  Not a tough-as-nails director of a social service program.  Not a worn out mom.  Not a wife.  Not a sex kitten (although I'm sure there are plenty of other things in that store that could make me feel like a sex kitten).

Not anything but a lady.

When I got it home, I kicked off my jeans and t-shirt to try it on.  I know I should have tried it on in the store, but I didn't.  Impulse purchase, remember?

It fit beautifully.  And the ladylike feeling only intensified.

The thing is, nobody will see me in it.  It's a slip, something to be worn under a nice dress or perhaps under a skirt and blazer.  It's not fancy.  But that little bit of delicate lace restored a feeling of femininity that gets buried under so many other facades.

And I think...maybe...that's the secret of Victoria's Secret.  At least that's the case for me.  It's not about making me into something I feel like I'm supposed to be, but reminding me of who I am on the inside. 

A lady. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Few Lines

I wish I had some kind of good reason for being away from my blog for so long, but the truth is, I don't. Nothing much has changed, I'm as busy as ever with working two jobs and managing a household, but I seem to have lost a little bit of my spunkiness. And I think that my desire to write went out the window with that spunkiness. Putting it all in perspective, I think I'm just good old-fashioned tired. Just tired. Since 2009, things have been a whirlwind of chaos and near disasters, sprinkled with stress and financial woes. No worries, this isn't a pity party. My point, though, is that since 2009, I've been SO consumed with managing one thing after another that the end result has been I'm too tired and distracted to engage in the activities that I enjoy. Like blogging. At least a few times a week, I think of things that I would love to write about, but by the time I actually have time to write, I'm too tired and decide to go to bed. I'm going to work on changing that. There's a lot of random stuff in this little brain of mine that I need to get out, and honestly, writing has always been an outlet that's left me feeling a little more sane. And I could use a little extra sanity these days!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Again...

I'm not sure what the appeal is...for trying to break into someone's house.  Namely, my house.  Again.  It's not a fancy house, not too much in the way of valuables inside, and the yard is a bit unkempt, but yet again, just around midnight last night, I had someone prowling around the front porch and windows.

And of course, I was home alone with my kiddo.  Again.

What potential criminals need to know is that it just isn't smart to scare a woman who will do anything to protect her sleeping child.   

When the doorbell rang, I figured it was just some dumb neighborhood kids playing ding dong ditch.  I was laying in bed watching television and all the lights were out, I was starting to doze off, so I ignored it.  Ding dong ditch is a timeless tradition, it seems, especially in this neighborhood. 

It took less than a second for me to realize that something was really wrong. 

All the upstairs windows were open.  When kids play ding dong ditch, they can't help but giggle a little as they run away.  It was dead silent.  I turned off the TV, my heart starting to race.  Because it's been hot, I was sleeping in a tank top, but smart girl that I am, I keep clothes next to my bed.  I slipped into my pants and pulled a t-shirt over my head, listening to the eerie silence. 

That was when I heard it.  The storm door opening.  I won't tell you the number of cuss words that ran through my head.  I always lock the storm door.  It's not much of a lock, but it's an extra layer of protection and could buy me precious seconds in an emergency.  Alas, I was not the last one to close the storm door, so it wasn't locked.  I prayed that the hubby had locked the actual front door.  I held my breath, straining to hear more. 

A faint rattle as the doorknob jiggled.  Scared me, but at least the jiggling confirmed the door was actually locked.  The front windows, however, were wide open, and it's not that hard to pop a screen out.  The only thing nearby was a baseball bat, which I picked up, hefting it and taking two practice swings before dropping to the floor, still listening.

It's amazing how heightened one's senses become in an emergency.  I listened, listened, listened.  Carefully tucked my cell phone in the waistband of my pants, grabbed the landline cordless and stood up, pausing in the doorway of my bedroom.  Then I heard it.  Scraping along the dining room window screen.  I slipped into my daughter's room, carefully and quietly shutting the door behind me, dialing 911 at the same time, whispering urgently to the dispatcher what my emergency was and where it was happening.  ETA for the police was less than 2 minutes.  I carefully peered out the kiddo's window, but it's a partially obstructed view.  I saw someone out there, but not enough to really be helpful.  At that moment, a car drove up the street--not the police car--and whoever it was took off. 

The police arrived only a few seconds later, no lights or sirens, just speeding stealthily down the street.  Once I saw the car, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and went downstairs to meet the officer.  There wasn't much he could do at that point, though several squad cars had been dispatched to the neighborhood.  I met the officer at the front door, explaining what had occurred.  I couldn't figure out why he was standing so far away from me, looking me up and down repeatedly.  It was then that I realized I still had the bat in my right hand and kept adjusting my grip on it.  I was a little embarrassed, but not enough to put the bat down.  He took my report and assured me they'd be patrolling overnight.  As he was checking the front of the house, he asked if any other windows were open.  Only the upstairs windows, so I wasn't worried about about someone getting in somewhere else downstairs. 

He was shining his flashlight along the front of the house when I saw it.  A garden pickaxe.  On the ground, right outside the window where I'd heard the noise.  Rage bubbled through me.  It was one of my gardening tools.  That the hubby had left outside on the porch.  As I stood outside looking in, I realized that in the dim light, the checkbook, some cash and a stack of bills were sitting out in plain sight on the dining room table...and I wasn't the one who left them there.  (Ahem...husband.)  What made my house an easy target?  An item that would make breaking in easy with easily accessible items within sight.  I could only shake my head at the stupidity of it.

With a wry grin, I looked at the baseball bat and made a comment to the effect of how the potential burglar probably didn't need to be the one worrying about getting a head full of splinters that night.

I went back into the house, checking and securing the door after the officer left, put on a few lights and just tried to breathe normally again.  My kiddo was still blessedly asleep.  As I glanced out the window, I saw two police cars speeding by, but I had the weirdest, most unsettled feeling.  I had the bat in my hands again at this point and I closed my eyes, listening carefully.  I was confident that nobody had gotten in through the front door or dining room window or other windows.  But I was still uneasy.  Something was out of place.

I played the last 5-6 minutes over in my head, closing my eyes and letting my instincts guide me.  Mentally tracking everything that had happened and everything that I'd seen.  My eyes flew open. 

The laundry room.  The door in the laundry room leads out to the garage.  It hadn't clicked at first because I hadn't gone in the laundry room, but when I turned, sure enough the door was partway open.  I backed up two steps, debating whether to run up the stairs to the kiddo's room.  But I also knew that I didn't want to leave my back exposed, so I swallowed and flicked the hall light on, fully illuminating the front entryway and part of the laundry room and with an air of confidence that I didn't really have, lunged into the small space.

Turns out, when the hubby had gone out that night, he had turned the doorknob lock, but hadn't fully shut the door and didn't bother to lock the deadbolt.  Nobody had gotten in.

I went upstairs, calmer, but so angry.  I should have been feeling better.  I was safe.  My kiddo was safe.  But the anger centered around the fact that it is so easy to make a poor decision that puts someone else at risk.  I laid awake for several hours, too much adrenalin coursing through me to allow for sleep.  I finally dozed off in the wee hours of the morning, but when the hubby got home, I realized I'd still been gripping the bat.  What a night.

And now?  Now I need to do some cleaning and organizing.  And breathing.  And maybe, just maybe, I can get some sleep later tonight.  Yeesh.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

About Me

Was having a conversation with a friend recently and being in a smart alecky mood, I said something to the effect of, "And now, for fact #30 about me..." (gearing up to say something silly), but she interrupted and said, "I don't think I know 29 other things about you."  As such, I'm inspired to share 30 things about me.  This is hard.

  1. I really dislike meatloaf.  I think it's kind of gross.  My MIL, however, makes a pretty good meatloaf and I'll occasionally eat a little bit of it.
  2. I'm allergic to cherries.  And a bunch of other stuff.  But cherries seems like a funny thing to be allergic to.
  3. I prefer red skin potatoes over any other kind.  And I think yellow potatoes are weird.
  4. I prefer red grapes over green. 
  5. I adore red lipstick, but I'm too timid to wear it very often.  (I'm seeing a red theme here...)
  6. I cry easily when I'm really, really tired.
  7. I also cry when I'm really, really angry.
  8. When I laugh really hard, I alternate between coughing and snorting.  This is an embarrassing problem, but other people think it's hilarious.
  9. I once slapped my brother-in-law with a pair of leather gloves.  It's hard to convince anyone it was an accident, but it was!
  10. I'm a terrible athlete.  I'm not graceful and have terrible hand-eye coordination
  11. In spite of #10, I was a pretty good swing dancer 15 years ago.
  12. I clean and bake a lot when I'm upset.
  13. I hate when people interrupt me when I'm talking, but I have a terrible habit of interrupting others because I'm afraid I'll forget what I wanted to say and blurt it out before the other person is done talking.
  14. If I have decided that someone is not trustworthy, I will never trust that person.  Ever.
  15. I can count on one hand the number of times I've given a person a second chance in the trust department.  It backfired each and every time and I'm pretty sure resulted in #14.
  16. I can fit a whole Twinkie in my mouth.  This is not something that I'm proud of, but it's an interesting fact about me.
  17. I was given the award for "Most Generous" in junior high.  The boy who nominated me never brought or bought lunch because his parents couldn't afford it.  I gave him thirty-five cents almost every day so he could at least get milk and a snack (milk was ten cents and various little snacks were twenty five cents) and often split my own sandwich with him.  His much wealthier friends always made fun of him for being so skinny and it bothered me.  A lot.
  18. When I was really young, I was in the car with my dad and got horribly upset when I saw a police officer arresting a man who was selling flowers on a street corner.  My dad said the guy probably did something bad to get arrested.  I said maybe the guy had kids at home who were hungry and was down to his last few pennies and really needed to sell those flowers to get some money.  And now his family would be worried about why he wasn't home.  (Pretty sure #17-18 foretold my future in the helping profession.)
  19. I believe in magic.  I do know that illusionists and magicians have trade secrets, but there's a part of me that really believes magic is real.
  20. Same for fairies and angels.
  21. And ghosts!  I think ghosts are harmless for the most part, but I've had some seriously strange experiences that make me believe with 100% certainty that hauntings and spirits are real.
  22. Because of #20-21, I can't help but believe in scary spirit-stuff, too, and movies like The Exorcist really, really freak me out.
  23. I tried to cheat on a history test in my early teens.  The stupid thing of it was that I spent so much time trying to cram notes onto a tiny piece of paper, that I ended up remembering all of the info and didn't need to cheat.  Later on, I would minor in History in college and love every minute of it.
  24. I'm disappointed in things I've learned about the Catholic Church in recent years and that has led me to become far more spiritual and faithful in my beliefs, as opposed to just religious.
  25. Someone hurt me very, very badly a very, very long time ago, and even now, I still choke on the words whenever I try to tell someone about it.  As I sit here, I feel like my fingers are choking and I can't even type it out.
  26. My closest friends have always been males and I wish people could understand that men and women can, in fact, be just friends.  There's fierce debate over this topic, but for me, it's true.  I've never said that ALL men and women are capable of being just friends...just that it's possible for some people.
  27. I remember small, weird, random facts about the strangest things.  This random knowledge helped a girlfriend two years ago when she was complaining about feeling itchy, especially on her palms.  She was pregnant and I freaked out and told her to call the doctor right then and request a blood test to get her liver checked.  That phone call saved her and her baby.  When she asked me how I knew something like that, I was honest and told her I didn't know, but I was glad I remembered it, because she was going to let it go until her next appointment--which wasn't for another few weeks. 
  28. I dated a guy whose father won a Garth Brooks lookalike contest.  I always felt very weird when I was at their house--had to overcome the urge to ask for an autograph.
  29. I've never taken a real vacation with my husband.  He's not the traveling type and it was one of those things I didn't know until after we were married.  So, I just have to wait for my kiddo to get old enough to take some trips with me.
  30. I would like to take one martial arts lesson with Chuck Norris and have Betty White cheering me on in the background.
That's it.  Thirty random things about me.  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Thoughts on Parenting

I am a mom.

I am a mother.

I am a mommy.

Chef.

Maid.

Seamstress.

Chauffeur.

Boo boo fixer.

Nightmare chase away-er.

Parent.

I value my child's life more than my own.  I would take a bullet for my kiddo without blinking.  I'd jump in front of a car, into a bolt of lightning, into a river, whatever it takes to make sure she is safe.

I will mercilessly take on anyone who would ever dare to raise a hand to her or harm her in any manner.

Confession.  I judge parents who hit their kids.  Call it spanking, call it abuse, call it a pop, knuckle sandwich, whuppin', whatever.  A hit is a hit and I don't really care what the reasoning or intention is behind it.  If you hit your kids, I judge you.  Pretty sure that makes me a less than stellar Christian since there's that whole thing about not judging others, but I'm also pretty sure that I'm not perfect and my strong judgments are proof of that...and God accepts that I'm not perfect and hopes I'll do better. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure most parents get angry and frustrated to the point of wanting to hit their kids.  I've felt that way.  But I told myself the moment I held my daughter for the first time that I would never touch her if I was angry.  It's not worth the risk of hurting her. 

To me, being a good parent, an appropriate and loving parent, is about actions, not by feelings.  I tried explaining that to a pro-spanker once and she said, "Well then you can understand that no matter how I feel, even if it hurts me, my action of spanking is about being a good parent.  I use a belt and it gets my point across and my kid doesn't question me again."  I offered to use a belt on her right then and there to see if it would help get my point across to her and see if it would make her stop questioning me.  She declined and called me a bad word. 

Having worked in social services for over a dozen years, I've worked with hundreds (maybe more) of abused children.  I've worked with hundreds more of adults who were abused as children.  And you know what all of the abusers have in common?  As far as I can tell, not one of them started out wanting to abuse their children.  Not one of them ever said, "Well hell, I'm a rotten person and thought it would be great to have kids so I could beat the daylights out of them when I'm in a bad mood."  Granted, I'm sure there are sick people out there who probably do fall in that category, but none that I've encountered.  Yet.  Who knows what might happen tomorrow.

Anyway.  Parents.  Hitting their kids.  Yep, I judge you.  Even if your intention, "isn't to hurt them, but to teach them a lesson."  Gag. 

I know far too many people who have crossed the line completely by accident.  In a blinding moment of rage, a hand is swung back too far and the contact is too hard, maybe there are more hits than what the parent intended.  In a flash, a child is back-handed across the face.  The parent grabs the nearest object and swings it.  There's a seeming lack of control as the pent up anger suddenly floods out. 

After that initial brutal encounter, the parent feels bad.  As the child sobs, maybe has welts springing up on his or her skin, red marks, bruises, blood, the parent is consumed with shame and guilt.  And holds the child and cries, too, apologizing, maybe making excuses like, "You just made me so mad."  But the guilt is there.  And then a while later...maybe a week, a month, a year, a decade...something triggers that rage again and the lashing out happens again.  There's guilt, but maybe less of it, more justification for one's actions, and perhaps a bit of smugness as the parent retorts, "That'll teach you."  It becomes easy, especially after seeing the child heal and "be okay", to continue with this kind of pattern.  

Patterns and habits, as we all know, are very difficult to change.  Anyone ever tried to quit smoking?  start an exercise routine?  Give up a bad-for-you food?  Not easy.  Changing behavior is always difficult.  But that doesn't mean it's okay not to change it.

I hear parents saying that their kids "need" physical discipline.  That kids today are too wild and unruly and need firm discipline early on to enforce rules and force them to respect others.  Newsflash...your parents probably thought you were unruly at some point, your grandparents probably thought your parents were unruly at some point, your great-grandparents probably thought your grandparents were unruly at some point.  We can go back generations and hear folks talk about "kids today".  But parents, you used to be those "kids today" thirty years ago.  We all had some kind of mischief that we got into--listening to music our parents didn't approve of, maybe peeking at a movie that wasn't appropriate for our age, sneaking a sip of alcohol before the legal age, staying out past curfew, not picking up our toys when we were supposed to, whatever.  Even "perfect" children have probably done a few sneaky things here and there. 

I just don't understand how and why adults resort to hitting.  I didn't understand it growing up when my parents hit me or I saw my friends being hit and I don't understand why people do it now.  People accuse me of being a hippy-dippy-bleeding-heart-liberal, but really, my heart just bleeds for the pain and humiliation that kids suffer at the hands of their caregivers.  And I don't understand why it's acceptable for an adult to physically hurt a child when, if that adult did the same thing to another adult, it would be assault/battery. 

People get angry over statistics...stats that say hitting is good, stats that say hitting damages kids.  Heck, I don't know which stats are accurate.  Probably they all are--they're accurate for what the researchers wanted to study.  But here's something non-statistical.  In my experience, kids who are hit while growing up either hit their own kids or they don't.  If they hit, I typically hear the standard, "My parents hit me and I turned out fine."  Okay, but I'm not sure what "fine" means, especially when those "fine" parents fall into the category of abusers, though to be fair, not all do.  Others say they don't hit their kids "because I remember what it was like and I hated it."  I fall into that last category.  I do remember what it was like and I did hate it.  And no amount of explaining or justification from my parents (sorry mom and dad!) will make me feel better about it.  I've chosen not to carry on that pattern. 

A while back, I was having a conversation with someone who regularly used what I believed was harsh physical discipline on her kids, including her littlest one who was potty-training and having lots of accidents. She laughed and said, "What's that old saying? Be nice to your kids because they'll choose your nursing home!" I didn't laugh. I told her that when the time came, she better hope her kids put her in a nursing home and not decide to take care of her themselves and pay her back tenfold. I then asked her how she'd feel if she found out that her grandmother (who had Alzheimer's and no longer could control her bodily functions) was being subjected to physical discipline by her caregiver because of toileting accidents. At first she said it was different, and when I asked her to explain how, she fumbled for words, something about "teaching a lesson to make them remember"...and I asked her how she would feel if the caregiver for her grandmother used the same excuse. She never did answer me.

People who think I'm nuts tell me that my kiddo is probably a spoiled brat.  That I'm an ignorant parent.  That I have no idea what discipline means.  That my child will be the downfall of America.  Yes, someone actually said that.  But you know what?  The way I see it, it may take longer to learn which disciplinary tactics are best for my kiddo, but she's not afraid of me.  I've disciplined myself to be patient and attentive to her needs--even when she is behaving like a stinker, and she does sometimes, because she's a kid.  Not hitting doesn't necessarily make me a "better" parent, but I do think it makes me a more patient one, because I force myself to stop and think, not just rely on my physical power over my child to get my point across.  With time and patience, she's growing up to understand consequences for actions, why I say no to certain things and that she has a voice.  She doesn't just suddenly get a voice when she becomes a legal adult at 18.  I want her to express herself to me.  Doesn't always mean that she'll get what she wants, but she'll always know that I love and respect her enough to listen.

I also don't want to be faced with a situation 30 years from now and have to explain to my grandchild why I did certain things to her mom.  I'll be able to laugh at some of my tactics and feel silly over ones that were useless, but not get flustered and have to try to explain or come up with a justification for why I hurt her mom.

God trusted me to care for her. And I will.

I am a parent.

Her parent.




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Defining a Myth

I was hanging out with my kiddo yesterday, enjoying some down time since it was raining and her softball practice was cancelled.  We baked a cake, watched a little TV, nothing much. 

In the middle of it all, though, while the cake was cooling and I was hand washing the few dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher, she asked me an eyebrow-raising question.

"Mommy, when I'm old enough to get married, what should I look for to know that he's my Prince Charming?"

I was elbow-deep in dishwater and contemplated her question for a few seconds before answering.  Prince Charming is kind of a myth, but she's my little girl and the myth is part of her reality right now.

"Well, I suppose it's a little different for everyone, but what I would want you to keep in mind is that it goes both ways and you need to give what you expect, too."  I rinsed off the last dish and went on.  "You deserve to be loved and respected, so you want someone who will always show love and respect, to you, your family and your kids if you have them, and the other people in your lives."

She scooted close to my side, looking up at me like I was sharing directions to some kind of hidden treasure.  I washed my hands, wiping off the remaining suds on a towel and turned to pick her up and hold her in my arms.  She rested her head on the side of my neck, quiet, waiting for me to continue.  I carried her to the living room and sat on our seen-way-better-days couch.  I rested my chin on her head as the cushions sank further down into the frame.

"You need to look for integrity," I continued.

"What's integrity?"

"Like being honest and keeping promises.  You want someone who values promises, not someone who says things because it'll make you feel better or because it's what you want to hear.  The promises are kept because they're promises and they mean something."

She pulled back and looked up at me.  "Are all promises equal?"

I shrugged a little.  "Others might not agree with me, but I think all promises are equal.  What I mean is that some promises might be bigger than others, but they're all important, and once someone makes a promise, it's important to keep those promises as much as possible.  Sometimes things will happen that might keep someone from keeping a promise, but that person still needs to make an effort.  That's part of integrity."

Her wise eyes connected with mine.  "What else, mommy?  That can't be it."

I paused again, carefully considering what I should tell her as she snuggled deeper into me.  It was the eve of her seventh birthday, but I had a feeling that even though she's just a little girl, this conversation was going to stick with her.

"You want someone who will look into your eyes.  People say that the eyes are the window the heart and soul, and if that's true, you want someone that you trust enough to see deep inside you and love whatever's seen in there.  Marry someone who believes you're important, who will really and truly put you first."

My throat tightened a little bit and I swallowed over the growing lump.

"Marry someone who has faith and believes in God, because when things get hard, and they will, sweetie, you'll need something bigger than the two of you to make it through.  Marry someone who prays with you, who likes holding your hand when you go to church, who will understand when you question your own faith and still be there at the end of the day when you don't know what to do next, someone who will be there for you to turn to in those moments when you turn away from God.  Marry someone who really gets you.  Someone who shares your dreams.  It's not enough for someone just to acknowledge that you have your own dreams.  You'll need someone who supports you in pursuit of those dreams."

"What about the garbage?"     

I was baffled.  "Garbage?  What do you mean?  Like things that aren't important?"

She shook her head.  "No.  Like shouldn't Prince Charming be nice and take out the garbage without being asked or reminded?"

I laughed out loud and gave her a big squeeze.  "That would be a bonus, Tink."

I rubbed her back for a minute before she pressed on.  "But what else, mommy?  What else should Prince Charming have?"

How was I supposed to answer?  "Well, he should be a strong man.  Not necessarily strong like being able to carry heavy things, though that is nice.  I mean strong enough to support you when you're angry or sad or hurting.  Someone who doesn't mind if you cry sometimes.  Someone you trust enough to let see you cry.  You should never be afraid to show how you're feeling or talk about why you're feeling sad."

Her fingers twirled the end of my braid.  "Mommy, I have a secret to tell you."

I could hear a hint of anxiety in her voice.  "What's up, baby?  You can tell me anything."

She sat up, eyes downcast.  "Last weekend when you thought I was sleeping after I went to bed, I heard you crying."

The lump in my throat got bigger, squeezing and making it hard to swallow.  I knew exactly what she was talking about.  "I'm sorry, sweetie.  Sometimes grown ups get a little sad and crying helps."  I prayed she wouldn't ask me what I'd been crying about.

"Mommy, I know I'm not Prince Charming, but you can always cry in front of me.  I'll never laugh at you, okay?"

My lips quivered and my vision blurred.  Who is this child? 

She bounced off the couch, our conversation apparently finished.  Before bolting from the room, she turned to me.

"So, Prince Charming should be nice, keep promises, be strong, love me, go to church with me and take out the garbage?"

I laughed.  "I guess that about covers it."

As she ran up the stairs, she called out to me.  "Cool.  But that doesn't sound like Prince Charming.  That just sounds like a regular guy."

Yes it does, kiddo.  Yes it does.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April

Well, I've let the month of April go by without posting anything.  Bad, bad blogger.  So I was surprised today when I logged in and realized the whole layout has changed. 

I don't like change very much.  Grrr.

I actually don't have much to say, but I did get my co-workers to laugh today when I told them I was quitting my job and going into politics.  Then I reconsidered and we all laughed when it was pointed out that I'd never last as a politician because I'd kiss the first person to bribe me with an egg, cheese and chorizo burrito with a side of yummy pie.  It would be such a scandal.  But such a delicious, delicious scandal...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living With Regrets

I always tell myself that I prefer to live my life without regrets.  Everything happens for a reason.  Everything that happens makes me who I am.

As I've contemplated this more, though, I've determined that I want my life to be overflowing with regrets.

I read a quote sometime back, not sure where or by who, but it was something to the effect of enjoying life and being satisfied with living with regrets for the things you've done, rather than living with regret over the things you never did.

There is good regret, after all.  And good regret is what I'm after in this lifetime. 

I may regret wasting the last roll of toilet paper in a toilet paper fight with my daughter.  Who uses the last roll of toilet paper in the house to have a toilet paper fight?  Well, apparently, I do.  And what I don't regret is the priceless smile and hysterical laughter bubbling out of my kiddo, the wide-eyed wonder on her face as she took in her normally low-key mom whipping around toilet paper all over the stairs and hallway. 

I may regret staying out all night with a friend because it meant that I was painfully exhausted the next day.  But I don't regret that in the time I was out, we talked and laughed and shared secrets and problem solved and that more importantly, we took the opportunity to be good friends to each other and re-connected after a long hiatus.

I may regret choices that I've made, things I've done, things I've said...but if the trade-off is learning to be a better person, then bring it on.  I'm looking forward to a life of regrets.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Behind the Mask

Several weeks ago, my daughter was struggling with some anxieties and fears...anxieties and fears about things she'd seen, things she'd been told by a kid at school, things she didn't understand.  Lots of bad dreams and nightmares.

Basically, it boiled down to one word. 

Monsters.

For children, monsters are very real.  They're shaggy, sharp-toothed creatures with black claws and red eyes.  They're slimy beings that can slide and slither under doors, foggy air that seeps through window screens and drapes over the bed, cloaking the sleeper in a stranglehold of nightmares.  Monsters are horrible dragons and vampires and the boogey man.

I held her close, rubbing her back and kissing her head.  "Shhh," I said.  "No worries, baby.  Monsters are just people with masks on.  It's makeup and special effects and all very, very pretend."

Afterward, guilt nagged at me.  I thought about what I said.  "Monsters are just people with masks on."  That's true sometimes. 

But other times?

Other times, the mask is safe.  It's the monster lurking behind that we must fear.

Forget about the boogey man, monsters under the bed, the beast in the forest, mysterious things that go bump in the night.  None of them are relevant.  None of them are real.  They don't matter.  Our imaginations can't hurt us.

The worst fear in the world is fear of people.  Fear of the monster you know.  Fear of the person behind the mask, because you know who is there...you know the evil, the anger, the outcome you already know is coming, the violence that floats just beneath the surface of the mask that he or she wears so well in public.

Fear of the known is far worse than fear of the unknown.  At least with the unknown, our imagined fear is often greater than real fear. 

Aside from all of that, though, I think about what to teach my daughter and how to teach her to manage fear, to overcome fear, or at the very least, to live with the known and unknown.  I haven't mastered it myself yet! 

Conquering fear itself.  That's nowhere in the parent manual.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just Quietly Praying

My energy has completely tanked on me in recent weeks.  I've been sick repeatedly and I can't figure out what I'm doing--or not doing, as the case may be--that's resulting in my frequent illnesses.  Colds, strep throat, stomach bug, bronchitis, sinus infection, one right after another.  Since I had my tonsils taken out in 2006, I typically get 2 colds a year and usually one whopping case of bronchitis.  I've had more issues in the past few months than in the past few years combined. 

The only thing I can think of right now is that, at least since December, I've been so stressed out about the car accident and the upheaval in our lives, that my immune system can't manage that and keep me going daily and then still fight off every germ that comes my way.

I'm so wiped out at the end of the day that all I want to do after dinner and getting the kiddo into bed is just go to bed myself.  But of course there are things to do around the house, so I do, but all I really want is to crawl under the covers and put the day behind me.  I just don't feel motivated and it's so frustrating to have half-finished things that I just want to complete.  There's a quilt that was started a few months ago and was then put on the side--and the baby it was intended for is now born and two months old.  There's a stack of books to go through, a pile of documents to organize for taxes, things to do for school.  Nothing out of the ordinary, I just flat out don't feel like doing it. 

I have, however, recently discovered the annoying and addicting game Angry Birds.  I think I like it so much because I can play it while I'm laying in bed and when I'm sick of it, I can roll over and go to sleep.

Clearly, I need to find some other enjoyable activities.

I'm going to tackle the 5k with my sister this spring and I'm looking forward to it.  I got through the first two weeks of the Couch Potato to 5k Program (C25K), but then stopped when I was coughing so hard from this last virus that I could barely breathe.  I plan on starting over again this weekend.  That's something to look forward to.  Maybe just getting moving again will bring me some relief.  A girl can hope!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Faith and Truth

When I heard about the changes that were being made to the Catholic mass, I was troubled, sad and a little angry.  As a person who doesn't like change very much, I was more than a little peeved that there are changes to prayers, changes to responses, changes to things that have been the same for a long time.  The changes are being defended, hailed as a way to bring solemnity and glory to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that they're a more literal translation and intended to bring us spiritually closer to God.

Okay.  I'll give 'em that.

But...

I still disagree with the changes.  I know some Catholics who tell me that I'm either Catholic or I'm not.  I've joked for years that I'm a Low-Calorie Catholic.  Catholic Light!  Whatever.  I suppose according to their standards, I'm not Catholic.  I've come under fire for my belief that people wrote the Bible, not God.  And I believe that things in the Bible have been lost in translation over hundreds/thousands of years.  It's not just about me, though.  I read last month--and I don't remember where, though I would like to so I could cite it here--that the only way people can be "saved" and enter the Kingdom of Heaven is to verbally profess their faith and declare the Lord as Savior.

I work with people who are mute.  I work with individuals with developmental disabilities who are unable to speak because they function at roughly the level of a 6-month old.  I work with individuals with severe mental illnesses who are actively psychotic and completely incoherent.  And I don't believe for even one second that any of them can't make it into Heaven or be saved simply because they can't say it.  What about babies that die?  What about children who are too young to understand?  I've never believed that un-baptized are banned from Heaven, but now if a kid can't profess faith, they're doomed?  Who makes up that stuff?

I also work with people who are violent and have committed horrible crimes against others.  Is such a person more worthy of forgiveness, more worthy of a relationship with God, more worthy of entrance to Heaven just because he or she can verbally profess faith and contrition?  And an innocent person is not worthy just because he or she cannot speak?

I am not good at fancy, flowery, solemn prayers.  I talk to God like I talk to anyone.  Pretty direct, asking questions when I need to, expressing thanks when things are good, asking for help when things are not so good.  Why should my relationship and how I talk to God change just because that's the direction of the church?  Because they say it's true?

What is the truth?  Well, I suspect the truth is that none of us know what the truth is.  Not the real truth, anyway.  Because everyone's ideas of the truth is a little different--and that's part of the issue.  We only have ideas of truth. 

A former friend of mine belonged to extreme Baptist church that told everyone that only 13,000 souls get into Heaven.  Once she got hooked up with them, she stopped being friends with me because I was a heathen.  According to her, my beliefs are wrong.  Another woman makes fun of other religions, tells people they're un-Christian, teases Mormons, bullies people about their beliefs, (and very troubling to me, makes sarcastic jokes about Casey Anthony and saying that it's not a big deal if she did, in fact, murder her daughter--because it's just a late-term abortion and people are saying that women should have choices about what to do with their bodies and their babies), talks about how impatient she is and how frequently she spanks her kids even though (by her own admission) it doesn't seem to help deal with the issues...and goes on to condemn and judge others based on the fact that she's Reformed and believes everything in the Bible.  According to her, too, my beliefs are wrong.  And I'm pretty sure they'd think each others' beliefs are wrong, too.  I've been told that I'm going to burn in hell for wearing shorts to church--and they weren't obscene shorts!  I've been told that if I don't subscribe and fully believe the edicts of one religion or another, I'm not going to be saved and I cannot get into Heaven.

What truth is in that?  Where is there any truth in any of it?  Why is it true?  Because they say so? 

Well, I also say that holding off on my kiddo's formal religious instruction isn't going to make her a faithless sinner.  I say that eating too much bad fat is bad for the body.  And I'm pretty sure those things are true, too.

I also think it's true that we're all sinners in our own way.  When we say unkind words (guilty), make fun of politicians (guilty), when we tell white lies (mucho guilty), when we roll our eyes (not too guilty, only a little) and judge people with different beliefs (um, duh, yeah, guilty if you've read this post)...all sins.  And I also think that Jesus already died for our sins.  I don't think that's free reign to just do whatever we want that's evil because HEY, WE'RE SAVED!  I think that we're called to live good lives, but not perfect lives.  If God wanted us to be perfect, He wouldn't have made us humans.  If God expected us to be perfect, then what is the reasoning behind sending His only Son to us for eternal redemption?



And maybe that's the key for me: Losing my religion to find my faith.  And if I have my faith, well, then I suppose I haven't really lost anything.