Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Right Kind of Angry

Sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
Author Unknown

When I was growing up I was never allowed me to be angry. My mother said it was an emotion that I had to suppress inside.  She insisted that anger was a negative emotion and I must never let others see my anger.   She even went so far as to say I didn't have the right to be angry.  

I would like to think her intentions were good, but sadly I feel she missed the mark a little bit.  Suppressing anger never works.  Oh maybe for a while, but eventually it takes its toll and it ain't pretty.  It took me a long time to realize that sometimes I do have the right to be angry and that anger in and of itself is not a bad thing. 
Sometimes anger can be the driving force behind a necessary change.  Take for example the "sea of stuff" taking over the ol' farmstead.  I had to get to the point where having so much chaos surrounding me made me angry --- angry enough to begin to make the changes necessary to bring order to our little corner of the world.
Sometimes anger is justified.  Someone wrongs me and I have every right to be angry.  My chicklets are most often the guilty culprits of this in my life.  There are days where I swear they exist merely to break each and every rule that has been set.  They speak disrespectfully to me or each other and it angers me.
Sadly, there are times (more often than I care to admit actually) I let anger get the best of me.  I hear myself yelling and saying things that are nothing short of cruel and I cringe.  I do this most with Boy Wonder.  He has  always been a "button pusher" and seems to have gone into overdrive since reaching puberty.  Instead of being the "grown-up" in the situation, I let my anger take over and I say things I am not proud of.

There have been several times in my life that God decides that I need to hear something.  He will put the message in front of me until I finally get it.  I will see a topic in magazine articles or blog posts, I'll hear conversations or someone will mention something and I'll think, "Hmmm, I've been hearing about that  a lot lately --- I  wonder if God is trying to tell me something."  That's exactly what's happened regarding anger for me.  From blog posts to conversations with other mothers, I am sure God is trying to get me to pay attention and listen. 

Anger is not wrong.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  It is not something to deny and stuff down.  There are times when anger is justified.  Anger is not necessarily bad, but it is what you do with that anger that matters.  I know that as a Mama Hen, I need to make a conscious effort to use it to motivate change within myself and/or my littles. 

Change is never easy, but I know God will give me the tools I need to do so.  I am sure that there will be many more blog posts to provide me with direction.  I know for sure the circle of women I meet with weekly will continue to help me grow through accountability and shared stories.   

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.
William Arthur Ward 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Are Your Afraid Of?

Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.
Jerry Gille

The Geek and I were able to go out to dinner alone the other night for our anniversary.  It was heavenly to just sit there and talk uninterrupted.  We talked about this, that and the other thing.  Seriously, we talked about everything from soup to nuts.  I can't remember what prompted him, but at some point he asked me, "Well, what are you afraid of?" I knew he was asking about a particular thing, but suddenly my mind was racing.  What am I afraid of? Well, where do I begin?

I started to mentally list my fears --- like spiders and lightening and flying and ... and... and...  Before I knew it I had enough items on my list I began to seriously wonder about myself.  I never realized how much of a scaredy cat I was.  The Geek broke my inner turmoil with another question, "What would it take to conquer that fear?" 

Huh, good question.

What would it take?

I never really thought about that.  Take, for example, my fear of spiders.  I mean I have feared spiders my entire life.  I just figured it was something I had to live with.  My fear is not so life limiting --- unless of course there's a big ol' spider between me and somewhere I'd like to be.  But even then, there's usually someone around who I can convince to be my knight in shining armor and slay the ugly beast. 

Unfortunately some of the other fears on my list aren't so innocuous --- like  my fear of going to the doctor.  I suffer from extreme "white coat hypertension" -- my blood pressure goes through the roof when I get it checked at the doctor's office.  I have had it pretty much my whole adult life --- especially since I have put on weight and have the added anxiety of  stepping on the scale and seeing those dreaded numbers come up. It's why I tend to avoid going to the doctor even when I need to.  No question, this has definite life limiting possibilities --- more like life threatening actually --- but what would it take to overcome it? I am not really sure.  I suppose being in better physical shape would curb my fear of the scale and might put me overall more at ease.  Now if I can just get over my fear of going to the gym:)

I have other less "life threatening" fears, that still limit the life I am able to live.  My fear of letting go of things that I feel attached to, particularly getting rid of my "sea of stuff" at home, definitely limits my ability to open my home up to others and share the gift of hospitality.  I have always dreamed of welcoming guests into my farmhouse, but the clutter and chaos always holds me back. 

What would it take to overcome the fear of letting people in?  That is something I am already trying to do --- simplifying my home.  Getting rid of the stuff that doesn't matter to make room for the stuff that does.  It's not something I can do overnight, but the good thing is I am starting to let go.

Then there's the fear that holds me back from writing something besides blog posts.  I have written a few things (I'm even published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books --- one of them being Inspiration for Writers no less!) but I still let fear cloud my mind. The thought of doing something "more" --- something "bigger" like a novel ---paralyzes me. 

What would it take to overcome my fear that I 'm not a "real" writer?  I am still trying to figure that one out.  I would have thought publication would have been the answer, but I have two pieces published in nationally acclaimed books and I still am filled with fear and doubt.  I love this quote by Lawrence Block:
Once we are aware of our fears, we are almost always capable of being more courageous than we think. Someone once told me that fear and courage are like lightning and thunder; they both start out at the same time, but the fear travels faster and arrives sooner. If we just wait a moment, the requisite courage will be along shortly.
I am not going to let my fear keep me from writing.  I am going to keep plugging away and hope that with time the "requisite courage" will come along, but even if  it doesn't, I won't stop writing.  I write because I like to write.  Writing is a part of who I am and that fact is not dependent on whether I ever write a novel or not.

I am sure if I really looked deeper, I'd find a few more "life limiting" fears lurking around in the abyss that is my mind.  Fears I need to confront and get to know so that I can move ahead and live the life I am meant to.  But for now I'll let them be.  I have enough to tackle for the time being.

What about you?  What are you afraid of?

There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you. Leave it  there.
Donna Favors

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Still Do

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Friedrich Nietzsche

24 years ago I married my best friend.  It's a good thing too 'cuz when my husband gets on my last nerve I can laugh about it with my best friend.  And when I border on being to much of a nag, my best friend can crack a joke and make me realize an attitude adjustment might be in order.  Oh, even best friends fight from time to time, but in the end friendship wins. We often joke that only one of us is getting out of this alive, so we might as well find the humor in it all.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin
I always thought it was borderline cheesy to say  things like "I love you more today than yesterday" but I must admit, cheesy or not, there is a lot of truth to it.  Going through 24 years of life's ups and downs with the Geek right by my side has been nothing short of a blessing.  A blessing I am thankful for today and as long as God lets me be.
Happy Anniversary Bubbaganoosh!
You're my best!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A List

I am a list maker.  I write grocery lists. To-do lists. Must read lists. Gotta make lists.  I want to go to there lists. If it can be listed, I will and probably have.

I'm not sure what it is about lists that draws me to making them.  I know I  love the feeling of checking off items on lists.  That feeling of accomplishment is a real high for me (so much so that I may or may not occasionally make lists of things I have done just so I can check them off ... sad, I know)  Maybe it's their order and structure that soothes my soul in the chaos that is my life. 

I may be a list maker extraordinaire, but list do-er? Yeah, not so much.  I don't let my tendency to fail in the follow through stop me from making lists. No, my love of lists remains so strong it would only make sense to make one on this day celebrating the anniversary of my entrance into this crazy world (Happy Birthday to Me!)  I recently saw a blog post where someone listed a number of things they wanted to accomplish before their next birthday (my apologies, I can not seem to find the site so I can give credit where credit is due) and thought the idea was right up my alley.

First of all, I will start off with a list of things I want to remember on this auspicious day:

I am exactly where I should be right now.
It's easy for me to look at the number of candles on my cake and sigh.  Not because I am growing older, but in thinking about all I haven't done.  I need to remind myself that life rarely goes according to my plan, but always follows God's plan and I am in the right place for me.

Stop comparing my story to others.
I don't play the "compare game" nearly as much as I used to (thankfully) but I do it often enough that I want to make a gentle reminder to myself to CUT IT OUT!   This is the story God has written for me.  My plotline twists and turns are mine alone.  This story has a happily ever after no matter what.  I just need to keep turning the pages.  I need to trust.  I need to be patient.  And I need to...

Keep up an attitude of gratitude.
I have been doing a pretty good job of this for the past few years, but I slip up every now and then.  It never hurts to give myself a nudge to remember to look for all the blessings in my life.  I am currently reading through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (I will not attempt to review the book here ... maybe some day. I'll put it on my to-do list  ) and it has further opened my eyes to appreciate the small stuff.  An attitude of gratitude is manna for the weary soul.

You can get there from here.
 I remember seeing a comedy sketch years ago that parodied the directions local people in Maine give to tourists.  After a long list of complicated directions were given, the local declared, "but you can't get there from here" and the tourist sulked away deflated.  Saying my life is complicated would be a gross understatement, but I refuse to sulk.  I propose that with a good list as my road map, I can get "there" from "here" --- or at the very least have a fun time getting lost along the way.

And so now without further ado ---

My 48 by 49 (in no particular order of importance)
  1. Visit the art museum --- our local one is in danger of closing so time is of the essence here
  2. Go to the zoo --- penguins make me smile
  3. Go sledding  --- my kids will love this one
  4. Go on a monthly date (12  total) with the Geek --- and no trips to the grocery store do not count
  5. Handwrite a card or letter at least once a month --- time to go old school for a change
  6. Attend a writing conference --- like a "real" writer
  7. Blog at least once a week 
  8.  Lose 2 dress sizes  --- I prefer not to focus on the numbers on the scale --- too depressing 
  9. Run or walk a 5K  --- walking is more do-able but I'd love to run across a finish line just once
  10. Ride bike 50 miles --- not all at once, but over the course of a year seems possible
  11. Learn to watercolor paint 
  12. See a play --- professional or not --- I'm not picky.
  13. Go to a concert --- again not too picky on who is performing
  14. Take 1 picture a day for a year --- one blogger I follow takes pictures of her feet.  I've always thought that was kind of interesting, but since I own two pairs of shoes and only white socks that would get boring really fast!
  15. Crochet a neck warmer --- perhaps "finish crocheting a neck warmer" would be more accurate:)
  16. Knit a scarf --- see above
  17. Walk across the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day  --- I have an insanely unreasonable fear of bridges so this one would be a real stretch, but who knows?
  18. Visit the Keweenaw in Michigan's upper peninsula --- THE most beautiful place on earth
  19. Kayak --- I have a huge aversion to getting wet, but I still think this would be a hoot.
  20. Learn to use Photoshop --- the Photoshop the Geek bought me three.years.ago.
  21. Submit an article to a magazine or newspaper --- time to put myself out there dontcha know. 
  22. Write a novel --- already signed up for NaNoWriMo
  23. Get a pedicure  --- I did this once and I swore I do it once a month --- that was six months ago.
  24. Learn to take photos in manual mode --- it's so sad to own a "Cadillac" camera and use it like a point and shoot
  25. Make birthday scrapbooks for all three kids --- time to stop collecting scrapbook paraphernalia and just do it.
  26. Get my mothers "life story" written or videoed   --- I always regret not sitting down with my daddy and doing this.
  27. Organize my craft area  --- step one:  get a craft area
  28. Sew a quilt --- see above
  29. Swim in a pool --- this body has not seen a swimming suit in years so this may remain undone
  30. Finish kid's bedroom --- no more excuses
  31. Sew a purse ---  not sure why,  I just wanna
  32. Remodel Trailer --- time to finally put that Pinterest board to use
  33. Host a Christmas cookie exchange --- have always wanted to do this and never made the time.
  34. Learn to bake bread --- I love the smell of baking bread.
  35. Learn to make noodles --- more appropriately "relearn to make noodles" as I took a class once
  36. Make ice cream  --- The Geek and I have yet to use an ice cream maker we received as a wedding present --- 24 four years ago!
  37. Go to Chicago --- no reason, just sounds cool
  38. Go on a train ride --- maybe to Chicago?
  39. get a pair of cool boots --- to replace the pair that "died" last year
  40. See a comedy show --- I have always wanted to take a stand up comedy class but this would do.
  41. Plant a flower garden --- a hundred year old farmhouse just looks sad without a beautiful perennial garden
  42. Make the house more of a home--- we've lived here just about sixteen years and we still have packed boxes in the basement!
  43. Cook dinner at home more frequently --- my checkbook and my waistline are counting on it.
  44. Give up soda --- see above
  45. Keep bedroom organized --- it's high past time to make my boudoir the peaceful haven it should be.
  46. Manage laundry better --- It ain't pretty folks --- it's me against the dirty clothes  right now and the dirty clothes are winning
  47. Go on a plane somewhere  ...  someplace warm in the middle of winter would be nice.
  48. Read Bible and devotions regularly ---  this should be No. 1

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stumbling forward

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
Havelock Ellis

I sometimes joke and say that I am one take-out container shy of being on the show "Hoarders".  It's not that bad, but I do have a lot of stuff.  Way too much stuff.  Stuff that is getting in the way of living the life I feel I am meant to live.   The life God wants me to live. 

Now knowing this is one thing, but doing something about it is an entirely different matter all together.  I don't wanna get rid of all of my stuff.  Oh, there is plenty I could part with easily.  Kitchen stuff that I haven't used for years could leave without a moment of angst.  Old clothes could be donated to the local thrift shop with ease.  Outgrown toys might cause a tear or two as I reminisce and think about my littles growing up, but I could get rid of those too.  It wouldn't be easy, but I could do it with a little push.  Unfortunately, those things are just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of stuff I am swimming in.

There are the scrapbooking supplies I have "collected" for years with every intention of making scrapbooks chronicling my littles' lives.  How can I just toss those?  Or the plethora of vintage glassware and dishes I envision using someday at an open house I throw for family and friends?  Never mind I have far more dishes than family and/or friends --- I could have more someday. 

There's also all the things that have come into my home as the result of being the unofficial curators of all family memorabilia and all things too vintage for someone else to throw out.  This list includes the dinette set my parents bought when they got married 68 years ago,  the retro dinette set a cousin passed on to us when cleaning out her parents house, an antique oak table and chairs my mother-in-law no longer had room for in her home, a table made by my great-grandfather that I inherited when my grandfather passed away, a vintage porcelain laundry table the Geek and I bought when we first got married and another cute little porcelain table we bought years ago because it was just too cute to pass up.  Clearly waaaaaaaaay too many tables for one household, yet each one would pain me to give away.

There are many more examples of items with real and/or perceived worth that would be hard to part with.    Holiday decorations, books, and vintage linens are just a few of the collections of things taking up more than their fair share of real estate in the ol' farmhouse.  Every nook and cranny, every flat surface and every bookcase is full to the brim with stuff --- stuff I am reluctant to let go of  for a variety of reasons.

I know something has to give, but I am overwhelmed.  I have tried to tackle the monumental task of bringing peace to my home through simplifying our possessions.  Despite good intentions, however, the enormity of the amount of work that needs to be done ends up getting the best of me.  I am now at the point where I can't even begin to decide where to start. 

Remember that circle of friends that recently embraced me?  That clan I needed even though I may have thought I didn't?  Well, it just so happens that simplifying lives of others is another one of their many  God-given talents.  They have the gift of knowing that the value of life lies not in material things, but rather in memories.  They know personally the freedom of living a simplified life.  They live in homes that are havens.  Homes free from the chaos of too much stuff. 

Some of them have come by their gift of simplification by birth and others have learned it the hard way.  No matter how the ability was gleaned, they are willing to pass on their know-how freely and without judgment.  I am humbled once again by a Heavenly Father who knows my needs and supplies me with answers I didn't even know I was seeking.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.”
Bob Proctor
I have so far to go to make my home the haven it should be, but I am taking the first steps.   These awesome ladies are willing to help as little or as much as I need, one even offered to come over and perform "hard labor" if desired.   I am not ready for that yet, but willingly accepted the offer to help me break down the tasks in to manageable "bite-sized" pieces and to hold me accountable for completing those pieces weekly.  No more excuses, just baby steps forward.

Baby steps.  Sometimes it's the best we can do.

“Even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward.”
Author Unknown