Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Mental Stretching Challenge

I know we're all busy - but thanks to a friend I got this pretty cool idea about having a once a week challenge to explore and stretch the mind and our perceptions of the world around us. So tune in on Mondays to see the Weekly Challenge and feel free to tell me what happened or even blog about your experiences. :)

Week One:

Do something that makes you MILDLY uncomfortable.

We, as human beings, like to live squarely in our comfort zones. We find ways to get around doing anything that even remotely questions our boundaries. Often, instead of US controlling our boundaries, our boundaries start to control us. We stop interacting with the world and settle for reacting to it.

The only way to break this cycle is to be mildly, or even at times majorly uncomfortable. If we're never uncomfortable, we're not learning. We're not growing as people...and likely, we're not contributing much to the world beyond our inner circle.

This week, pick some way you would like to stretch yourself. This doesn't need to be torture...we'll get to that later. Maybe you've always wanted to try your hand at painting but your self-perceived "horrid" art skills have stopped you from trying. Take a little one day class at the local center! :) Perhaps you have realized you'd like to give back to your community but aren't sure how. Check out any of Volunteer Match or Serve and find something.

Get out there. MEET your neighbors. SMILE at a stranger. GO BEYOND YOURSELF.

And if you fail at it, FAIL FABULOUSLY!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Modernized Ancient Tetris

Also known as how to pack snow gear, winter clothes, and overnight supplies into no more than 3 suitcases and 2 backpacks.

Oh yeah, and all the electronics needed to support a 7 year old for 2 days.

And food for both of us for 2 days.

And something to keep me occupied.

And last, but certainly not least, blankets, pillows, etc.

Definitely Modernized Ancient Tetris.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Great Denim Debate

As some of you already know, I am down to only one pair of jeans.

For most people on the planet, this is not a cause for crisis. Unfortunately for those of us who live in the sticks and have no access to real shopping, it's a battle of epic proportions.

Part of me is sincerely wondering, should I just give up denim and most pants in general for that matter? I mean, I already wear my hair long much to the confusion of many conservatives who feel it is some kind of statement about my "submissiveness" to God, my husband, etc. I am not suggesting becoming a nudist, merely that I may opt for skirts or dresses primarily until designers return to their senses.

Please weigh in with your opinions. Keep up the fight or surrender to looking even more like a demur, perfect wife when I am, in fact, not even remotely close....?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why Do I Scare You?

As I have stated here before, I'm a women, a mother, a wife. I have a "traditional" marriage for the most part.

Why does this scare people????

I feel like if I were to "come out to the world" about this that I would be attacked!

Here's an imaginary dialogue I had while making breakfast and doing some dishes.

In my mind I was somewhere public, like on a train where I had lots of time and nothing to do but converse with those around me or sit there dead silent. I was in my norm for "going out" - jeans, nice blouse, decent shoes, hair done, possibly makeup and nails done. Very "modern June Cleaver" in appearance.

A woman turned to me and introduced herself. She noticed my wedding band and commented on it. I told her "My husband picked it out for me! Didn't he do a great job?!?!"

She looked at me with a bit of surprise in her eyes. "You didn't choose your own wedding band?"


Then she asked where I was going. I told her I was going home to visit my family. My husband's job caused us to need to move 1300 miles away.

"And you're okay with that??? Having to leave your family and everything??? That must be awful!!!!"

"Uh, no."

The next question was about my husband. I already saw where this conversation was going, but thought, hey - what the heck! :) lol

"So you were able to get off work to go see them? How lucky for you!"

"Umm...actually, my "work" is over there playing with his Leapster Explorer. I'm a stay-at-home Mom who occasionally works for family members when they need an extra hand with something from home."

"You mean you don't WORK??? Your whole life is your children???" She tries to calm herself down and turns and asks my son how excited he is to be off school to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

"I'm doing school now! I'm homeschooled!!"

I almost saw her eyes roll into the back of her head...I was starting to wonder if I might need to remember my seizure procedures.

She whipped back to me and said, "Aren't you worried about his development?"

"Yes, that's WHY I homeschool."

"Does your husband agree with this?"

"Yes, he and I agreed early on that I would stay home and raise our children. This is an extension of that promise."

"He MAKES you stay home and take care of your son????"

"No, I want to. We agreed upon it."

Miffed she stops to think for a moment and then calmly asks me, "So, if you don't work and don't have your own money, what if you need to buy something?"

"Well, he gives me a set amount from each paycheck that is mine to do what I want with. If I need more for some reason, I ask him and if it's in the budget, I can have it."

"You mean you get an ALLOWANCE and HAVE TO ASK FOR MONEY?????"

"Does that bother you?"

Sputtering, creeped out and clearly unhappy she says, "YES! That's abuse!!!! I would never stand for it!!!!"

Smiling, KNOWING we were going down this road I said, "Okay, so since we've talked so much about MY life, how about yours?" I look at her designer shoes and handbag, she's impeccably dressed, super expensive haircut, the works. "Are you married?"

"No! And I wouldn't want to be if this is what marriage is to you!!!"

"I believe everyone should be able to live their own life according to their beliefs and unless they ask me for my opinion, it's not mine to give."


"No, Maam. I'm not brainwashed. This is how I choose to live my life."


(time out - this is where I got irritated and decided this needed to be posted)

"Wait a minute here. I just said this is how *I* choose to live *MY* life. I never said it was how you had to live yours. I think it's great that you work. I'm glad you're happy with your choices!"

"You can't possibly be happy like this."

"Actually, I AM. I love my life. I love my son and my husband. Why does that scare you?"

And she huffs off without giving me an answer.

Why do traditionalists scare people so much? I'm not saying this life is for everyone or that they MUST do what I do. Why does it matter so much to them that I conform to "their" way of thinking because they are free to choose what they want?

I just don't get it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Go ahead and LAUGH!

In an ideal world our children would be perfect. They would never say embarrassing things to Dad's boss on the phone, they would behave perfectly, and they wouldn't dream of being selfish, throwing tantrums, or picking on their sibling.

However, I have to state, in MY family, those inopportune times often have led to some of the BEST memories. From my Uncle Steve who refused to eat broccoli as a child because his knee was sore to the AWFULLY fated 27 hour driving trip of my new step-sister and I in the car that after her picking on me for 24 hours almost straight led to me whining to my mother (at 14 and completely intentionally) "MOM, she's breathing my air!" these are the moments that cause gales of laughter at family reunions and are also some of the best ice breakers in my repertoire of meeting new people.

So why do we, as parents, get so caught up in these moments of frustration? If we were casually observing another family we would have great difficulty trying to keep a straight face and, at times, not to bust out laughing. Why do we let these pure gems of amusement drive us crazy?

About 6 weeks ago I re-read the old maxim "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone." and thought about how that could apply more in my OWN life. My brand of craziness in my household is unique (as are all of ours!) but between post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury in my spouse and a son who is exceptionally bright as well as exceedingly precocious there are MANY moments I would like to tear my hair out.

(Fortunately, I have lovely long dark strawberry blonde locks (from Lady Clairol) that I'm just not willing to sacrifice to their insanity so I am not - quite yet - bald.)

So I thought - just MAYBE I could try to laugh about the things I'm going to laugh about later anyway NOW. I could try it. I could make an attempt to find the amusement when my son comes back from playing with a friend covered in mud while I'm on a road trip. I could find a smile when my husband forgets to pick up the groceries and give him a hug and let him know that it's okay. I can laugh when the puppy decides to dig ANOTHER hole in my yard and consider planting flowers in it.

I can LAUGH about it NOW. (okay - maybe not out loud when it's a discipline issue - but I can laugh inside and bust a gut later when I can get to somewhere else.)

Guess what happened? I'm a LOT less crazy as a Mom. Here's a small list of VERY real side effects that have occurred due to this new maxim:

I'm a much better Mom - because the small stuff that really doesn't matter, doesn't matter!

My blood pressure went down - nope - not joking - my blood pressure went from borderline hypertension to normal - in 4 weeks - no diet change except...)

I binge eat a LOT less. (which since I have mastered this better has led to an 8 pound weight loss - in under 4 weeks)

We get to do MUCH more fun stuff as a family because I'm seizing moments that passed us by before because I was so wrapped up in "stuff".

Bottom line - think about it - give it a TRY. Another mom and I were talking about this last night and it was breaking a barrier for her with something she's really struggled with (and the reason I decided to write this post). It's the cheapest parenting advice EVER - it doesn't even require duct tape! :) lol If someone had told me 7 weeks ago that for FREE and a little brain power I could do this and have these kinds of results on my life I would have laughed and told them to go get a life!!!! I would have laughed at their suggestion but not had the courage to laugh at myself, my family, and the very things that make us unique and interesting.

And if you have the courage to try this rather odd parenting method, let me know how it works!! (seriously - I'd REALLY like to know!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to Strings of Motherhood

As I travel this path of the next decade of my life I noticed there is a common thread.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. A child of God, a rebel, a woman.

I have noticed that lately, I seem to be surrounded by strings. Two months ago I started making aprons. Recently I purchased my first personally owned tight lace corset. The intricacies of my life are similar to that of a marionette maker - pull this string, give that one some slack - the giant balancing act of being a homemaker - everything to everyone.

The Mom who just happens to be at home so of course she can run 3 fundraisers in 2 weeks. The Wife who is of course available so she can do the last minute shopping for the children's gift bags for the company picnic. The Daughter who if obviously available for phone calls of tears or joy at any given time. The Friend who's shoulder will catch tears at midnight because, of course, she doesn't have a job to get up to in the morning...

...Save the child that is sick, the house that needs to be cleaned, the laundry that needs to be done. The husband who needs to be nurtured and loved, the math problem solver who needs an extra push, the friend who's husband is threatening to leave who needs a shoulder to cry on. The volunteer work that needs to be done, the dog that needs a walk, and the science experiment that just blew up in the kitchen.

Full time job? Funny - I don't consider it one. Maybe that's because at the end of a day at work in a full time job, you get to go somewhere else. The boss generally doesn't call you at all hours. You're seldom on call 24/7/365. If I were a paid employee somewhere I'd get time and a half when I had to come in after hours to take care of my ill "Jr. Employer". If I were a paid employee my mileage would be reimbursed for the errands I had to run for the bosses. If I were a paid employee...

If I were a paid employee I wouldn't be allowed to show up at work in my pajamas. I wouldn't be able to send my boss to his room when he misbehaved. I certainly couldn't make "the big boss" sleep on the couch.

I'd miss so much. The "Thank you so much for doing that for me. You're the best wife in the world."'s. The "Uh....Moooommmmm....(kaboom rattle rattle boom)"'s. The "Mom!!! I did it!!!!"'s.

Would this be worth giving up one second? Not a chance. I'll keep my corset strings and my apron strings. I'm the only one who can make this marionette do her dance...

...and dance I shall.