Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Once Upon a Time

The other day I did a cartwheel. Jaws dropped, eyes open wide and amazed gasps filled the air. Then I did another just to cement the fact that I could, turning and lifting my hands with a loud tah dah to my skeptics. We have all been subjected to those super surprised looks our kids give us when they see us do something that is beyond what they think our playbook holds. They are used to seeing us in the mother light. Fixing dinner and mopping the floor. They see us nurse them when they are sick and wipe their bums when they need us too. We discipline them for talking back or using naughty words but what they don't realize is that we have used those words and talked back ourselves. We actually had a life before they showed up. We went to school and had friends and braces and drama. We fought with our moms and missed curfew. We danced and played kick ball with our friends at recess. We cried over grades and learned to drive on a stick shift. As hard as it is for them to see past the mini vans and mommy jeans there is so much more.
My resume says more then wife and mother. The skills listed are many and detailed. The important thing is that my kids realize that we are whole people with loves and interests that are older then they are. Those skills from before shaped who we became as a mother. Hopefully when I am 70 and do a cartwheel they won't be surprised. Hopefully they will be totally aware that I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mean Girls

As the mom to three girls I worry a lot about them developing a positive self image. I try to model by example nutrition and exercise. I want them to want to be healthy. I need them to feel good about their bodies and their appearance because I know if promotes self confidence and leadership skills. My whole life I have felt big. I can remember in the 5th grade being taller and bigger then everyone else. I was shy to begin with and that just made me withdraw deeper into the wallpaper. I never tried out for a team or joined a group. I preferred to just stand on the sidelines. People whispered in hushed but audible tones about how big I was or how red my face was or whatever else they could think of to rattle me. My skin was so thin and my confidence so shaky that I wasn't able to power past the meanness. Instead I let it over take me and guide me through my entire education. I know now that I could not control what other people said or did but I could have faced the adversity in a different way. I could have embraced my uniqueness and found my place inside the gym or on the stage. My most important goal and message for my girls is to make them see themselves in a magic light with all their positive features shining through to the top of the list. The good always beats the bad in my book. You are taller then everyone?? So what you can also write a wonderful story or create a beautiful piece of artwork! You have pimples and braces?? SO what you have gorgeous hair and long strong legs!! Let all those things that might be holding you back fall away and focus on what you are proud of and can accomplish. Showing what you can do helps to develop thick skin that will bounce off the people who try to showcase the unflattering things. Most of the time those kids that point out flaws are so jealous of something they see in the you that they have to try to squish you down so you don't find your happiness. As a parent it is heartbreaking to see your child come home from school crying about someone else's words or actions. The thing that is important is how we teach them to deal with these meanies and also how to think about what you are saying to others so you aren't a meanie yourself! Surrounding yourself with friends who take in stride everything you have to offer including the good, the bad and the different is the true way to find the place you are looking for.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trending on Caring

Lately I have noticed an odd trend in many of the blogs I read religiously. Apparently the new thing to do is to simplify your life by giving away half your belongings, move your family into a smaller house and then stand up on a high horse and talk about all the good things you are teaching your children by doing this. I honestly don't get it. I am a compassionate person who does my part in this world to make a difference. I hope that I am showing my children how to be good, caring people who someday will make a difference too. BUT I am not a hypocrite. I want to be allowed to enjoy things in life without feeling like it makes me less of a person. Sometimes I drive through Starbucks and buy myself a 5$ coffee. Sometimes I let my kids pick a toy out at the store and sometimes I even choose the name brand over the store brand. I don't understand how my life following a normal ordinary path of enjoyment and compassion quietly makes my mark on the earth any less important or true then those that talk about it all the time. The purest form of giving is silent. Think about all the people that spend their whole lives giving of themselves and their time and talents but it is never known until their funeral. It is who they are not what they want others to see. What is behind the scenes is so much more important then the performance on stage. The biggest imprint on society is made by people who aren't using their compassion as a commercial to endorse their righteousness.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Lovey

All three of my girls had a special security lovey when they were small. My oldest sucked her thumb. She did it when she was sad or tired or happy. The first time we locked eyes after she was born she was sucking her thumb. It was so cute to watch her chubby baby fingers in her mouth. My middle girl had a crocheted blanket. It was an old blanket that was my husbands when he was a baby. Somehow it ended up in her nursery and it was the only thing that would quiet her. She would take the blanket and stick it between her lips and suck on it. It was really gross but also rather endearing all at the same time. My youngest had a small square fleece blanket that had different silky ribbons sewn around the entire edge. She carried "taggie bird" every where and would stroke the ribbons along the ridge of her nose. When you are so little in such a huge scary world you need something to grab onto that makes you feel safe and enveloped in warmth and security. Something that helps you realize that there is a constant in your life that you can forever count on to make you feel loved and happy. Actually we could all use something to make us feel that way in this world. Twenty-two years ago today I found that something. It was the day that Chris and I went on our first official date. We were both sixteen and less then experienced with all the scary details of love and life. Yet from that moment on we both grabbed on to the security and support we saw in each other. Year after year through babies and jobs and houses we both manage to find solace in the warmth and security we have been able to offer each other. His presence offers me the familiarity and comfort to be who I am. I never have to look back to see if he is behind me or forward to see if he is ahead. All I have to do is look next too me and he is there, hand out, ready to walk together.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

STOP this Run...I Want to Walk!

Sometimes realizations come all at once but often they come through a slow evolution of events and feelings. Things that are set up as goals get in the way of the path it takes to get there. The hardest part for me to embrace is that the trip is sometimes more important then the actual destination. I can't begin to put into words what the last year of running has meant to me. I have accomplished every goal I have flung out there for myself and am proud of that. The thing that makes me the most tingly inside though is what I have gained along with my goals or maybe even in spite of my goals.
I have found solace in the early morning with the quiet darkness and cool breezes. I have gained a knowledge of the fact that I do need time to do something for me. Something that makes me a happier, better mom and wife.
Most importantly, I have formed a sisterhood with woman that I identify with and respect. Our lives are becoming tightly intertwined and it is forming a web of support through rough roads and valleys but also a cheering section for celebrations and milestones. We talk about not only our hopes and dreams but our fears and disappointments. Judgement loses out to the ability to step into each others jogging shoes. If one of us falls flat on our face we all stop and help them up and dust them off and we begin again, together. I like to call it the Sisterhood of it could have been me. We so closely parallel each other that it is easy to see ourselves facing the same challenges.
Somewhere along the line the simple goal of running a half marathon has faded into the woodwork and the important stuff has crossed the finish line. I love running but I love what it has given me more. I can clearly see what I have gained in the journey instead of focusing on how far I still have left to travel. Eventually wrinkles will overtake us, our joints will ache and our hair will turn white but even then I will still find myself feeling the support and respect. Maybe we won't be running but walking and talking and laughing...always laughing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beth's Affirmations.

We all go through times when a million things are happening at once. Stuff that causes the stress level to rise and the patience level to plummet. Feelings of fear of the unknown cause the need to shut yourself in a room and cover your ears and scream like a horror movie star or sit in the corner and grasp your knees and rock in the fetal position. When all this stuff creeps in I have found a revolutionary method to counter act it. I have decided to dig deep and remember why I am a good person. What makes me value myself in life. Things that make me happy and that I do to make other people happy.

I am eternally loyal. NOT exactly like a dog since I don't stick my tongue out and wag my tail but pretty darn close. I like being someone my friends and family can count on and trust. I enjoy being the one they can come to for help or celebration. It makes me feel loved.

Seeing my children using the tools I have taught them puts a smile on my face. I hear them say please or thank you or see them show empathy toward another and my heart just soars. I am not that horrible of a parent! They are learning and internalizing the things that are important.

Laughing. Sometimes at myself sometimes at other people. Finding humor in almost anything makes it more bareable. I try, through writing, to inspire humor and laughter.

Acceptance of diversity. I am proud of my ability to find inspiration in differences. I like it when people disagree with me or show me a different angle. It makes me reshape my original position and understand where others are coming on.

The relationship I have with my husband. Trust without speaking it, understanding through actions and high impact support. I see our past and our future and it makes me smile.

In the end I hope remembering these things about myself helps me appreciate my life and who I am. I know there is a another list probably twice as long someplace listing the stuff that makes me not so great but for now I am trying to turn my pessimistic ways around and focus on the positive. I am good enough (for now), I am smart enough (for today) and doggone people like me (at least I pretend they do).

Monday, April 5, 2010

To All Those Flat Stanley's Out There.

We all know first impressions really do mean something. We try hard to pretend they don't matter but we are human and they do. When you meet someone you do notice what they are wearing and how their hair is styled. You do see some things that might strike you on first glance as imperfections. Maybe they have a squeakier then normal voice or their nose doesn't really fit their face. Maybe they have crooked teeth or large feet. Something will stand out to you in that first meeting and when you hear that persons name the next time that is what will pop into your mind. If you start to really get to know the person as a whole those first impressions begin to fade and become one with the rest of who the person is. You start to see past whatever that physical thing was and move on to the entire package. The next time you hear that persons name or see them you think all of them as a whole. All the things that make them who they are get so intertwined that it is impossible to separate all the mild idiosyncrasies. Realizing we all have our unique characteristics makes life interesting and I, for one, enjoy knowing as many different types of people as possible. This goes beyond the physical things and onto the stuff inside too. It bores me to sit and talk to people who constantly agree with every word I say and every view I have. I don't want to be placated or lied too. I want to hear new and different things and be heard by people who believe things I don't agree with. It widens my eyes and mind and makes me think past what I think I believe. What really gets me is when other people refuse to widen their narrowness. They don't want to try and understand what makes the world so interesting. They decide that I am too liberal or don't attend church and that first impression leads them to drop me like a lead weight. They have no use for me and turn back toward their internal group of people who feel the exact same way as them. They live without challenge or growth and judge me by the cover before finding out how interesting the book really is. It makes me sad for them but sad for myself too because I have all the confidence in the world that if they gave me a chance they would realize that I am not what they might think at first. I am more then just a political viewpoint or a religious view. I am a real live human being with the ability to listen and debate and change my mind. Being pious and one sided makes you a flat person without depth and hardly any acceptance. Agreeing to disagree doesn't take away from your conviction but speaks to the goodness of your character and the openness of your mind and heart.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hey Bunny! Don't Put All Those Eggs in ONE Basket!

It is so obvious that as a child you are learning new things every day. As a baby you learn all the basics like walking and talking. When you get in school you learn academic lessons and lots of social and emotional things too as you pass through each new age. When you graduate from college and get a job you kind of settle into a new sort of mentality. A sort of state where you have learned what you need to know and now on with the rest of your life. The hard thing to realize is that the learning doesn't stop there. As a matter of fact the lessons just get bigger and harder as we get older.
One of my big lessons lately seems to be to keep my options open. There is no end all be all goal for life. You have to be flexible with everything that you do. Curve balls come fast and out of left field and sometimes they hit that basket that has all your eggs in it. I am learning slowly but surely the importance of having lots of different achievable goals spread out in lots of different baskets. What I am coming to realize is that by having a stair step of goals, frustration and disappointment aren't as prevalent. Attaining each small goal brings a feeling of accomplishment and fuels me toward the next reachable success. It is so important to take the time to recognize progress and take pride in accomplishments, no matter the size or shape.