Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Constructive or Destructive?

We all want reassurance in our lives. Everyone likes to hear someone tell them what a great job they have done or how fantastic they are. So we ask opinions. We say we want want to know honest reactions. The problem is when you put yourself out there for judgement the reaction can never be all positive. No matter how constructive criticism is it is still finding flaws in whatever it is you are doing. Criticism of any kind can be destructive if you let it overcome you. On the other hand finding the constructive part within the critical part can open a whole new door into what you can achieve. Once you wallow past the initial embarrassment and irritation of someone finding negative parts to your work you can let yourself digest the advice and use it to better yourself and your craft. People who are unable to do this often fail to reach for new and different goals. The hardest part for me is facing the person who gives me harsh, constant criticism. The person that forgets to add the constructive part or if they do it is so far hidden I can't seem to find it no matter how hard I search. Me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Words are Worse then Sticks and Stones.

You know those moments in time that seem to form who you are?? The ones that make you who you are and help explain what you are about. One of those moments in time that you can trace back years or decades that made you face something about yourself that was lurking below the surface. I remember so clearly when that happened to me. It was the summer before high school started. I had all the high hopes and popular dreams that most girls that age have. Going to a new school, starting fresh with no preconceived notions hanging over your head. You could be who and what you wanted. I was taking a walk with a friend and we were fantasizing about how great and exciting the school year would be. We were walking along , our heads in the clouds, when a old rusty clunker bumped by with the horn honking. We both turned and looked and saw a car full of high school boys. They slowed down and circled around and came back toward us. They clearly pointed at my friend and hooted and hollered. They whistled and yelled about her cute butt and her flowing hair. Then they turned to me and started laughing. They yelled and pointed at me too. Instead of saying things that were complimentary they told me I was fat and over sized. That I walked like a horse and my hair was too short. They were out of sight before the sound of their voices echoing left my ears. Their words would never leave my head. Not when I walked into school the first day. Not when I attempted to try out for volleyball. Not when I met new people. Those things they said were just words to them but to me they spurred an insecurity that has been my soul mate all my life. Every time I look in the mirror I think of their words. Every time I get my hair cut I remember what they said. I am sure everyone has heard the childhood rhyme.. " Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." It is WRONG. It is a lie. Words do hurt. They are so powerful. They can tear people down or they can build them up. They can cure someone or curse them. Choosing words carefully has become an important way of life for me. I watch what I say so I don't inflict pain. I want my kids to think before they speak as well. Words are a tool. They can build things or they can tear things down.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Out of the Rubble

Seeing all the horrific images in Haiti this week has really made me start thinking about what matters. We stress about money, either having it or not having it. We worry about being thinner and faster and smarter. The details seem to litter the path to what really matters. Those people in the earthquake that lost their lifetime in a matter of seconds probably wish they had focused on the things that they know matter now.
We seem to let all the stuff like apathy, pride, embarrassment, insecurity, fear, get in the way of the things that really matter; people-loved ones, friends and family. We let our own things get in the way of telling those that matter how we feel and what they mean to us. Why do we as humans wait for tragedy, sickness or even death before we begin to realize what really matters? We rationalize and justify our behavior in every day life and it becomes an accepted practice. We bury all our emotions as far down as possible and only let them out when faced with finality. I am wondering why I am investing so much time and energy into things that don't matter and neglecting the things that do. It is time to start sifting through the rubble and unearthing the important stuff. I need to figure out what and who matter and what I am going to do about it. How about you?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not What We Bargained For.

Sometimes what we have conjured up in our heads about people just isn't who or what they really are. I tend to put people up on pedestals when in reality the things holding them up there are figments of my imagination. Although everyone has qualities that make them worthy of greatness no one is without faults. It is hard to remember that and I often catch myself having unrealistic expectations that make me feel bad in the end. The real life version is that I can only control my own actions and reactions. Other people have an agenda and emotions of their own just as I do. Human nature is supposedly about survival of the fittest. All signs of research and history point to that but sometimes real flesh and blood doesn't measure up to science. In the end what we bargained for isn't always what we get. The hard part is figuring out how we can accept what we do get and mold it into something useful.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Full Circle

I was thinking the other day about when I was in high school and used to spend my days slamming my door. I would stamp up the stairs arms crossed and fling myself into my room with a bang. I remember burrowing my head in my pillow imaging how I would never be so mean to my kids. How I would do things differently. The thing is I can't clearly remember what the fights were about just that I felt like I was always right and they were always wrong. That they didn't understand. Their job was to set the parameters and my job was to test them. I didn't get that then. I do get that now. I keep catching myself thinking that I am doing things the way my parents did with my own children. It is such a different feeling to be on the other side of the coin. Keeping them safe and teaching them morals and trust is my job. They don't get that now just like I didn't get it then. I see all three of my girls at different ages and stages and I know that the future years will bring challenges. There will be tears and doors slamming. Lots of them I am sure. I know my focus has to stay on my job though to be the adult and the rule maker. The one who says no and the one who stands her ground even when it hurts my feet and my heart. I am doing it for them so they are safe and so some day when life comes full circle they are the parent my parents were and the parent I hope I am.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Guilty Pleasures

48 hours mystery or any true crime show. Even though they are all about 75% the same story I can't not watch.

Ice cream from my favorite shop hidden in the fridge until the children are fast asleep so I can truly enjoy the goodness.

TJMaxx even if it is just to walk around and look through the racks.

Blond hair. Fake blond hair. Tried to go back to my drab dark blond and just couldn't stand looking at myself in the mirror.

Purchasing running clothes. How many running clothes does one person really need??

Making my youngest kid go to bed at 8 even though she is awake until 9 playing in her bed.

Facebook and my iPhone. Addicted. Can't get enough. REALLY.

Sun in the summer. I know I need to wear sunscreen. I know the risk of skin cancer. I do feel guilty about it but I can't give it up. I love to be tan.

Red wine. White wine. Really any wine.

The Target clearance rack. If something is 3$ or less I buy it no matter if I need it or not. I have a cupboard that is designated for my purchases. Some things have been there for years.

Reading the autobiographies of all my childhood television idols and being surprised that they are real humans that made mistakes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Powell, Ohio for Dummies part 2 (the men)

I was overwhelmed with requests to let the men in on the social scene in our community. Hopefully this will be a helpful Cliff Note version of men in Powell and how to fit in seamlessly.
I am going to detail 5 distinct groups and let you decide where you belong.

1) The Frat Boy: The guy who never really left his college days even though he got a job, got married and had a family. He still spends his nights playing pool and chest bumping his buddies over the score of the game. He likes to crush beer cans on his forehead and grunt unintelligibly. He uses his muscles to blind people to his deficiencies in other areas.
2) CEO Dad: These are the guys who are the president of their job (no matter what that might be) and want everyone to know it. They flaunt their axcess to all the local sporting events and have extensive collections of shiny metal toys in their garage. They spend the weekends out on their boats while their kids bond with the nanny. They often fly off to Tahiti on a moments notice. They want their kids to have everything they didn't have no matter what the they have to sacrifice to provide it.
3) Ubber Dad: This guy is D-A-D down to his tighty whities. He is often seen pulling the kids around on a sled with his John Deer. He can't have a conversation without telling you the score of his kids games or the grade they got on their science project. He wears his coaches shirt even after the season is over and always has those picture buttons of his kids in their uniforms on the front of his jacket. This guy lets his daughters dress him up and polish his nails and enjoys every minute of it.
4) Mr. Mom: Diapers, skinned knees and sippy cups everywhere! This dad is usually wearing an apron and baking cookies. When he isn't in the kitchen he is out shuttling the kids around or at the grocery store. He is supportive of his ladder climbing wife on the outside but feeling inadequate beyond belief on the inside.
5) The Rebel: Moved here for the great school system but refuses to give up the freedom of life without deed restrictions. Even though they are quite vocal about their irritation over all the rules they are the first to shovel the snow and trim the trees bitching all the while.

**Thanks to Amy and Abby for the the insight on this post**

Go Out on a Limb...After All That is Where the Fruit is

It is almost two weeks into the new year. The new decade. I have been mulling over what kinds of things I want to promise myself. What kinds of things I want to accomplish. For me the biggest issue is being able to try new things and face change with a positive spin. For some reason change has always been synonymous with fear. This is probably why I always like to say "I don't do that" about things that I have never tried. It is easier to pretend that those things are uninteresting to me then to admit my apprehension. Taking risks means not knowing what the outcome will be in advance, leaving everything to chance. What I want to attempt in this new year is to challenge myself to take uncomfortable risks. A risk that is uncomfortable for me will help me to push myself to new lengths and bring about change. Without risk I don't feel like I can learn or grow. I want to move beyond the stagnation of the status quo and find potential in myself. I want to bring something new and exciting to the table. I have a feeling that the gift of risk-taking lies less in what I risk and more in who I become as a result of the process.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Powell, Ohio for Dummies

Welcome to Powell, Ohio. We are so glad that you chose our quaint little community nestled between no money and new money! A place where kids out number adults 4:1 and so do the playgrounds. We like to pay big bucks for our homes but watch out on the first day to sign up for the cheapie parks and recreation classes ! If you aren't there in the first ten minutes...YOU LOSE! People here enjoy devoting hours of time on what kinds of trees to plant in your subdivision and whether your trash can is put away within an hour of the garbage men coming. Don't consider putting up fences and don't even think about leaving your holiday lights up past January 15th. Visit our local markets but be warned if you forget your "I'm better then you" bags at the checkout you will be totally ostracized. Be sure to attempt to respect our local law enforcement. They have tons of time on their hands and like to hang out on residential streets setting up speed traps and pulling cars over for going a mile over the speed limit. They also enjoy calling people at 1am to inform them that their garage door is open. Don't think you are a good citizen by walking home after having that beer at the local pub. The police here enjoy enforcing WUI's...walking under the influence. Don't worry about finding a public phone to use just tap any child over the age of 8 on the shoulder and I am sure you can a borrow their cell. Again welcome and enjoy!
The first thing I want to do is to give a tutorial about the four very distinct types of woman that live in the area. I hope by giving some insight you can find an IN and be accepted into one of the groups.

One) Granola Hippie Chick: Skeletally thin with Birkenstocks for every day of the week. Often caught singing Kumbaya and looking rather "athletic". Smells of incense and makes special brownies to welcome you to the neighborhood.

Two) The Queen Bee: Head room mom who volunteers endlessly. Has an extensive collection of glass dolls and a house decorated in Laura Ashley florals. More then willing to host play dates and sleepovers.

Three) Holier then Thou: No gluten or additives of any kind in food for the family. Absolutely no fast food or soda. Scheduled lessons galore. Only one hour of "screen" time a day, no exceptions. Often carries a Solo cup around with something resembling cranberry juice but if you took a sip I am sure it would have a little something extra.

Four) Social Climber: Coach carrying, SUV driving, perfectly coiffed hair and nails. Always whispering about the Jones's and how to keep up. Knows the local bar menu's better then the elementary school motto.

** Please remember this is all a spoof and should be taken with a grain of salt. I certainly don't want my neighbors to come in through my open garage door and lynch me :**

Thursday, January 7, 2010


As I get older I seem to be able to see the need to surround myself with people that are a positive influence on my well being. Relationships that are healthy contain something that both parties can contribute. There is a good amount of give and take and everyone benefits from the union. In the past I have had people I thought were friends who seemed to suck every last drop out of me. People who took and took and just when you thought they were done they took some more. I was just as much to blame as them though because I sat back and surrendered. Letting them walk all over me one way and then slowly and deliberately turn around and walk back the other way. I felt like by giving everything I could I was being a good friend. I still think giving a lot of yourself is important in friendship but taking is important too. When I hit the 30 year mark years ago I had a few really important realizations. First that wine is the nectar of the God's and second that a friend doesn't make you feel inept and uncomfortable (whether those two things have any connection I don't know but they happened simultaneously so I thought I would mention it :) What I have found is that people that turn out to be true friends, in for the long haul, are people who have something you need and want something you have. Opposites attract in love but also in friendship. Most of the people I consider my real true friends are those who I admire for their differences. People that I can learn from and who want to learn from me. Today I surround myself with people who enrich my experiences. People that through mutual support, communication, trust, honesty and unconditional love have enhanced the quality of my life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Satisfaction Not Guaranteed

Why is it as human beings we always seem to want more? There isn't really any satisfaction in achieving something because we are already focused on something else we feel we need or want. It is like remodeling an entire room. New paint and floors. New curtains, furniture and artwork. When you enter the room instead of seeing those things you notice the old fixtures and can see nothing else. It is especially clear at the beginning of the new year. People want to be thinner and healthier or more god fearing and faithful. They want to drive a better car and make more money while spending less.
It is truly almost impossible to find someone that is relishing in their life without yearning for more. I understand the benefit of setting goals and working toward things but I am beginning to think that that intense focus is blocking out any enjoyment of the here and now. Sometimes I wish good enough could really be good enough. There should be no guilt in putting some of those goals away every now and again to just be and enjoy. When you are always facing toward the future it is easy to miss what is going on right in front of you. Before you know it you have skipped over all the roses without stopping to enjoy the smell.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The New Year is supposed to bring about new beginnings and chances for change. In my case it poses new chances for failure and insecurities. The magnitude of the accomplishments of last year bring me to a crashing halt with the realization that living up to that year may not be possible. Nothing is worse then being compared to yourself and losing. If the game ended with last year then I would be ahead but the wide open empty pages of the next 365 days leaves too many chances for the story to change and end in a different way. The unknown is scary. I refuse to pretend that that fear isn't real. I won't make a list of resolutions this year. Instead I will take a step back and burrow in for a while to refuel and energize. I will reevaluate and hopefully emerge with a new found optimism that will propel me to look forward instead of back.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My top stories of 2009

These are some things about the year 2009 that made me happy. Things about myself and my life that I find empowering and exciting. Things that I want to use as an example for 2010 to build on and explore.
1) Surrounding myself with people I really, truly respect as much as they respect me .
2) Setting an extreme goal for myself and working through highs as well as lows to get there.
3) Letting myself out of my self-made box and trying some new adventures beyond my comfort level.
4) Realizing that my children are growing up and require less physical parenting but more support and emotional parenting.
5) No matter how some things look from the outside, they are pretty much never that way once you actually get insisde.
6) Sometmes imagining something is way worse than actually taking that scary first step and actually doing it.
7) Trying something and failing is ten times better than not trying at all.
8) Love is much more powerful than hate.