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Category Archives: Random
And just like that, the Jen Hatmaker school of wisdom begins with a bang. In her amazing new creation, For the Love, Jen takes us on a journey of love, laughter and “fighting for grace in a world of impossible standards” . Chapter 1, entitled “Worst Beam Ever” is all about trying to balance the crazy and unreasonable demands of an artificially over-competent world, while living under the scrutiny of social media and unhealthy self-image. She compares the tension we feel to struggling along a balance beam, and points out that the unfortunate result of such destructive thinking lies here:
“We no longer asses our lives with any accuracy. We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done.”
She reminds us that no one can do it all….no one is doing it all, and to try is futile as well as maddening. We aren’t called to be master multi-taskers. We aren’t called to be wonder women, or top production managers, or masters of the to-do list.
What a relief! What a beautiful thing, to be openly told that our worth doesn’t come from our ability to please everyone, or check off the most items on a list, or be the best at every single thing we might possibly need to do or participate in. What a glorious day it will be when we believe this; when we realize that it’s okay to not be okay at something. When we can fathom a time of rest, and enjoy our work and our tasks because we have chosen to prioritize that which fulfills us. When we celebrate the fact that we are all different, and not having a particular gifting or skill set means that someone else gets to claim that one – and it’s a good thing! Our unique abilities are for use in our lives, as an enrichment, not a chain to drag us down into the depths of over-commitment.
The entire book is amazing, and I have read it many times already…but this chapter sang to my heart, because it so clearly and gracefully says what my very soul cries out for – there is acceptance and freedom in letting go of assumed guilt. There are so many seasons in our lives, we grow so much throughout the years….why waste time and energy bemoaning what we can’t accomplish when there is so much to celebrate? It’s not about the picture or post. It’s about life, real life, and finding our way to “walk confidently in our choices”. Doing so allows us to find freedom – from guilt, from worry, from comparison and competition.
It’s a fabulous start to an incredible book….and to an extraordinary life. Which is pretty much the point. Don’t you agree?
Solidarity, sisters. Unicorns are overrated.
Ok…so in the spirit of solidarity and magical creatures….I’m doing a giveaway! Because I truly think everyone should read this book…and gifts are my love language. SO….leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by = 1 entry; share this post = 1 entry; subscribe to my e-mail list = 3 entries!! You’ve got so many chances to win!! I’ll leave the opportunity open until this Friday, August 21, then draw a lucky winner at random. Good luck!
I am having guilt. And writer’s block. This is not a good combination.
I had this grandiose plan to launch my new site and blog look…I even have a fun new book to give away in my first ever River Chick Giveaway Extravaganza! It’s by one of the fabulous women I have met on the For the Love Launch Team journey. She’s been patiently waiting to see the post with her name tagged in it pop up….and I’m sure by now she is wishing she had picked someone else for this project.
I blame technology.
Truly. I do. All technology hates me. I am not even kidding. If there is a way for some kind of technical or machine-driven thing to go wrong with or around me, it will. The weirdest things happen to me when it comes to this. They’ve started asking me not to walk by the children’s check-in area at church when volunteers are trying to print name tags for the kids because the printer breaks every time I go by.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s ridiculous. If there ever is a Rise of the Machines type apocalypse, run far away from me. I’ll be the first human they come after. No joke. Give me the zombies any day. And please, God, don’t let the release of functioning robots into society happen in my lifetime.
I digress. Sorry. Just so you know, I now want to go watch something starring Will Smith on Netflix.
Because of my lack of skills in the cyber/tech arena, I finally broke down and reached out for professional help with upgrading the blog and website. Which was absolutely the right and necessary thing to do, and was going swimmingly, until three days before my projected launch date…..when the precious, helpful, wonderful bundle of talent who is pulling this miracle together ended up in ICU…..almost in a diabetic coma…..having never before been diagnosed with diabetes. For the love…. I can’t make this stuff up.Who does that even happen to? Me, obviously.
Lest you think I am horrible and selfish, he is on the mend and doing well, and gave me permission to tell that story. Even he was laughing in disbelief. I’m just grateful he still wants to help me and wasn’t scared off by the overt need of the Universe to mess with me in this area.
I am sure we will find an underlying mechanized cause of his illness.
All this babble to say “I’m still here! Please keep tuning in and reading!”
I promise to have more salient points next time. And perhaps a new look.
I refuse to speak in absolutes at this time. No need to push my luck.
Solidarity, sisters. Thanks for hanging in there with me…..
It’s nearly the first day of school, and I, for one, couldn’t be more ready. Summer has been fun and fabulous, but the tiny portion of my soul that belongs to the struggling-to-survive remnants of my former Type A personality can no longer handle the chaos. I need routine and structure and consistency…..along with the chaos of all the sports schedules hitting us. Our family master schedule (which I color code per person for activities) looks like a clown threw up on it (because apparently, I think clown vomit is bright and multi-colored).
Social media is a veritable smorgasbord of back to school pictures, quotes, videos and blogs. Some are sentimental. Some are hilarious. Some are…..let’s say, different. But all are being trumped by the phenomenon sweeping the virtual nation. I know you’ve seen it. You may have participated in it. It’s the ALS Ice Bucket
Challenge. And I think it is absolutely beautiful.
People from all walks of life and every age are getting on board and allowing friends or loved ones to dump large containers filled with icy water over their heads. They then issue the challenge to do the same to their friends and the cycle continues. The challenged have 24 hours to respond. Missing the deadline results in an expectation to pony up a $100 donation to the ALS Foundation. Many people are choosing to do both. It’s brilliant. It’s hilarious. And it’s making a difference. Since the challenge began, ALS has received over $15 million dollars in donations – way over it’s usual pull.
In spite of this, there are critics out there who are upset with this “trendy” bit of fundraising and are picking it apart to point out why it’s not a good idea, or is too silly, or is just feeding American narcissism even more. I’ve read several articles where the author has either admonished the public to “quit dumping water on your head and just give the hundred bucks” or has used the defeatist logic that it won’t raise enough money to make a difference anyway. To any of these thinkers, I’d just like to say, “You’ve missed the point.”
Because as someone who works very closely with families fighting off terminal or permanent or heart-breaking conditions, I can pretty much guarantee to you they don’t see it that way at all. Here’s why:
1) It’s not just about the money. It’s also about awareness. And to create awareness, you have to get people’s attention. And to get people’s attention, you have to create something fun or shocking, and make it something they can share. How many of those dumping water over their heads never heard of ALS before this challenge? How many children are asking questions and learning about this tragic condition? How many friends are discovering the peers in their midst who have lost a family member to this disease, but just hadn’t shared that information? How many individuals and families feel a little less alone now that the world is looking at their illness?
2) It’s about purpose. God bless Pete Frates and his family. His determination to make a difference and his support network’s participation in putting out this idea are creating a legacy he probably never imagined. I watched his video and bawled my eyes out as his mother sat looking into the camera with her unwavering stare while she explained their frustrations and the journey they are on. I have no doubts she has days where she screams at the sky, “Couldn’t you have picked someone else’s son?” I also have no doubts she couldn’t be prouder of hers. And she is determined he will leave his mark on this world, that his suffering will serve a higher purpose.
3) It’s about community. For now, and in this, the shivering masses are united in purpose. Your neighbor, your brother, David Beckham, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy…..all are joining in and experiencing the same situation. When’s the last time that happened? The shrieks and laughter and gasps erupting from our collective selves are echoing across the nation. The donations are pouring in from all over. We are a team. We are stepping outside of ourselves, and teaching our kids to do the same. We are caring for our brother. And it’s all voluntary, and done with joy.
4) It’s also about the money. I don’t know about you, but I happen to think $15.6 million is a lot of money. I also happen to think that every fund starts with a dollar. If we all held to the philosophy that a drop in the bucket never matters, no fundraising or savings plan would ever work. You’ve got to start somewhere.
As much as we may want to, we don’t always get to pick our battles….especially the really hard ones. We just get to pick how we react to them, and how we allow them to shape us. I admire individuals who choose to use their stories in ways that will make the world a better place. I am humbled by the strength of those who are dealt a terrible hand and still use it to trump their circumstances. They are the true heroes of our age. Of every age, really.
When Gregg and I participated in the challenge, Luke got to dump the ice on our heads. In the video, he is literally dancing around in gleeful anticipation of “icing” his parents. It’s hilarious, and I’ve had many people comment on it. The part no one saw, however, was his interest in discovering what the challenge meant and his complete focus on the video explaining it. Every time he sees our video or tells the story, he’ll remember its significance. As Drew dances around, begging to be challenged, he clarifies that it’s not just to get cold – he wants to help get rid of bad diseases. Emry, ever watchful, asks if it helps “kids like the ones Mommy helps”.
Yeah. They got the point. And they’ll remember it.
Hopefully, we all will.
Solidarity, sisters. A tidal wave can start from a bucket.
I have to do a written tribute for Father’s Day this year, for many reasons – two of them being the best, most loving dads a girl could ask for. One I was born to and one I married. And I thank God for them every day. Because they really are incredible men. And supportive husbands. And fantastic fathers. And really good sports – I mean, really. It can’t be easy playing the steady to the comedic drama fest that is our life.
While my life has always had a substantial, overt female influence, I’ve got to give kudos to the man who had to live in Estrogen World with three very strong personalities and their hormones, two of whom were relatively loud and outspoken, one of whom has a more sensitive heart => thus has always been prone to bursting into tears with somewhat alarming regularity…..especially when she’s losing at family game night (sorry, Mom. You know I’m speaking truth in love). Hats off to the man who handled an existence of accents and music, dancing and fighting, exotic foods and foreign concepts with aplomb. It couldn’t have been easy, especially since his upbringing was so devoid of all those things.
And he only has one brother.
So, you know, no concept of girl stuff.
Yet, he found a way to navigate the murky waters of parenthood – and parenthood of a firstborn girl, no less. He learned to coach girls’ soccer, despite never having played the sport himself. He found the creativity and energy for stories and giggles, cuddles and tears, family vacations, sporting events and dance recitals galore. He learned to use every conceivable piece of recording equipment developed in the 80’s and 90’s, and woe be to him if a battery didn’t have enough charge to make it through an entire performance. He survived slumber parties full of screaming, giggling girls who stayed up well past reasonable hours. I’ll never forget my 13th birthday party…..We were wired, of course, and rolling with laughter as one of my friends performed midnight cheer routines while wearing Medzma’s balloon-stuffed bra. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there were two different boy sleepovers happening in our neighborhood that night as well. At separate times, each party snuck over and wrapped our house. The second group was so bold as to ring the doorbell upon completion of the task. Naturally, my dad came barrelling out of his room to the sounds of our fading shrieks as we oh-so-wisely unlocked the front door, threw it open, and ran screaming into the front yard and street – clad only in our tiny pj’s. In December. At three o’clock in the morning.
I actually thought he might stroke out that night.
He survived, as dads do.
He also managed to survive:
- teaching me to drive a five-speed standard car
- multiple proms and homecomings
- letting me out of the house in a bikini
- the highs and lows of a teenage girl’s dating life
- cheerleader tryouts (only once – I didn’t make it. It may have scarred him for life)
- volleyball and track injuries and triumphs
- the world of dance
- graduations – high school, college, grad school
- my first out-of-town vacation with a boyfriend
- my wedding – and all that entailed
Each step of the way, he had to redefine himself as Father, growing or shrinking the role as the occasion demanded. And while I can’t say I always agreed with the way he did so, I can say I’m so incredibly grateful that he did. It made all the difference. It colored all my memories. It shaped my life and expectations and sense of self.
I married a guy who, at first glance, is almost polar opposite of my dad. Gregg is outdoorsy and active, playful and competitive, all about practical application and the bottom line. My dad is introverted, a little anti-social at times, academic, kind of sedentary and full of esoteric facts and information that is often completely weird and not something we can relate to (love you, Daddy).
My husband, love of my life and father to my three beautiful children, grew up in a country setting with one brother, mostly male cousins and a hard-working single mom. He’d never even set foot in a dance recital before he met me, yet managed to brave The Nutcracker twice (because I was in it) the year we started dating. He has endured performances, drama, accents, foreign foods and traditions, hormones and spontaneous recreations of iconic musical numbers without batting an eye (or at least without developing a twitch). He embraced Fatherhood head on (luckily, with a two son warm-up before Hurricane Emry arrived) and rises to its challenges with regularity, strength and patience that sometimes astounds me.
When Luke began to play soccer, he stepped in to coach, in spite of never having played the sport himself. He’s helped coach Drew’s team every season save one. When Luke decided he wanted to take hip hop lessons, he showed up to every recital or competition, video camera in hand, ready to record the three minutes our son was in after sitting through four hours of all the girls – and he did this for four years. When Emry was born he learned to love pink and to change diapers even when intimidated by the parts he was cleaning. He’s even found the courage to mangle his way through a curly ponytail or two.
He coaches our sons in football and basketball.
He teaches our daughter to swim.
He drives kids to school every morning he’s in town.
He fishes with them, and tickles them, and doles out hugs and high fives.
He prays with them every night at bedtime.
He can dunk a basketball or pretend cookie in imaginary tea with equal skill.
I watch my daughter blossom every time he tells her she’s pretty, or smart, or strong.
I watch my sons stand taller when he takes them to shoot hoops, and then comes in bragging to me about what each of them did well.
He naturally reinforces their sense of self, even as he watches them grow and develop. I watch the subtle shifts in his relationship with each one as they mature.
He’ll redefine himself as Father, growing or shrinking the role as occasions demand.
He’ll continue to be an integral part of their core, their memories and their expectations.
And it will make all the difference.
Because we are genetically encoded for this.
We are, at our very core, created to crave this concept of Father. To look up to, seek assurance from and find approval in Him.
To know that we are loved, and protected, and special.
To feel the strength and security that comes from a daddy who blesses us with his presence and his unconditional love.
I applaud the men out there who are doing this to the best of their ability, who are successful in imparting any measure of this to their wives and children, and who continually strive and sacrifice to this end. You are appreciated, and you are bestowing a gift that cannot be overstated onto the generations to come. Thank you. We love you, even when the noise and chaos and drama overwhelm our ability to say so.
Solidarity, sisters. You are beloved by your Father.
Wouldn’t it be great if life were a musical? Pause here. Read that line again. Let it sink in. Humor me on this one – just for a few moments. Hear me out. And admit that somewhere inside you a song has started.
The impact of a good musical cannot be overstated. And life lends itself to this tendency. We constantly refer to it in artistic terms – the rhythm of life, the timing of a situation, wait a beat, the flow of a conversation, the staccato of heels on pavement, a clap of thunder, rain song, all the world is a stage…… You get the picture. We are such auditory and visual creatures that we use those kind of descriptors in our written and oral language. We respond emotionally to sound, rhythm and movement. It’s why music is such a huge part of our movie and television experience. We run (ok, that’s a generalized “we”) or exercise to it. We hum or play it to soothe our infants. We turn to it when we are happy, sad, or overwhelmed. We clamor for the artists who create it, travelling far and wide to see them.
It touches us on a visceral level, evoking tears or laughter, and many times vivid memories of where we were when we first or last heard a song. I still catch my breath every time I hear Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child O Mine”…..and not for the reasons you would initially think. It was playing on the radio when I received the news that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and would undergo emergency surgery two days later. I still can’t listen to the whole thing. And I love me some 80’s hair bands…….
But I digress. Back to the Musical of Life.
Can you imagine? How great would it be to randomly (or with beautifully timed intentionality) burst into song and movement in moments of heightened tension or joy? To be fair, I generally burst into song at random moments throughout my day on a regular basis, but seldom does anyone join me, so it doesn’t count as a musical, per se.
If you’ve never been in a musical production (or moment of any kind), I don’t know that you can fully appreciate the stress relief that occurs from a rousing dance and song number that releases energy and emotion with total abandon. Seriously! Think back to the last tense or angry interaction you experienced and imagine how much more quickly and effectively you could have let it all go and reset yourself by participating in a Broadway-esque jazz routine (think “Cool” from West Side Story) or perhaps an aggressive tango (since I mentioned WSS, I now have “A Boy Like That” in a constant mental loop. Crap).
We’ve had a really rough week around here, trying to get through our first broken arm (Drew, who else?). After the scare, first ER, x-ray, ambulance ride to the second ER, more x-rays, multiple doctors and news of pending surgery (three pins through the humerus, thank you very much), both Gregg and I were totally past our limit by the time we were admitted for our overnight stay in the frozen meat locker hospital room to wait on the early morning procedure. I am sitting here actually laughing out loud at the mental picture of one or both of us jumping up from our chairs in Trauma Waiting and exploding down the hallway in a rendition of Ren’s frustrated dance number from “Footloose”. Can you even imagine? I can picture the mad rush of nurses, med students and residents scrambling to get out of our way! If only I could still do a back handspring…..or convince Gregg to do a dive roll…
And reflect back on your last argument. I mean, could you really stay truly mad at someone after a full out sing-off/dance-off? You’re winded, you’ve gotten to fling your arms around, you’ve done phenomenal harmonies together….. What’s left to hang on to? Issue solved, or at least decompressed a few levels.
Ta-da! And if that doesn’t do the trick, you just say, “And…scene” and walk off.
Then there’s the mental flash-forward, backward or to an alternate present. I want one of those! You know, where you jump into an entirely different scenario, complete with costume and hair change, band, back-up dancers, situation of your dreams and to-die-for vocals and choreography. Fantastic! Some days, all I really want is a five to seven minute escape from reality. In a designer dress. And fabulous shoes.
Group numbers would be the ultimate. Don’t roll your eyes! If you’ve ever You-tubed a flash mob you have no room to mock me. Picture your co-workers or Bunko group snapping, clapping and hopping their way through a situation together. Bet it made you smile.
And we could totally spice up boring circumstances. Board meeting? Alternate tropical universe! Never-ending homework? Fact-filled song! Tedious yard work? A hip hop extravaganza! I was especially struck this past weekend as Gregg was engrossed in the Masters tournament. I cannot even handle that much golf. Or any golf….no disrespect – shout out to Bubba Watson. But it must be noted that I spent the last half hour of the event choreographing the players and their caddies in my head. Think “Fame” with nine irons.
As if I weren’t going overboard enough (and possibly frightening some of you with my ludicrous incidentals), Luke just walked by wearing a robe and declared, “I’m going to read like an Englishman, Mom. Where’s a pipe?” I have no words. That apple plopped right at the base of its tree. And now I find myself propelled into scenes from “My Fair Lady”. I wonder what he would do if I threw his slippers at him…..
So, I challenge you all this week. Sing a little song, do a little dance, find a bit of music in an unexpected place. You might surprise yourself with what it does for your heart. At the very least, you’ll get a good laugh (or someone around you might).
Solidarity, sisters. All the world’s a stage.
As I’ve stated before, my girlfriends are some of the absolute funniest people on the planet, which works out well for me, seeing as how humor is a hugely important part of my psyche and a personality trait I am incredibly drawn to. Audrey Hepburn once said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
I love that she said that. It is so beautiful and charming. It made me look at her as multi-faceted and even more delightfully fascinating. You know, because a resume of projects like “My Fair Lady” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with the distinguished status of world renowned icon in art and fashion isn’t impressive enough.
Anyhow…. I started this funny little habit a few years ago on a Girls’ trip. We always laugh really hard at the random stories and comments that fly out of peoples’ mouths during our times together…..so, I started writing them down. Then I lost the lists. So I started using the notepad feature on my phone. Much better.
The girls love this idea. In fact, when things get rolling, one of them will invariably yell, “Start your list, Bec!”, and away we go. No one else sees our lists. I don’t read them to anyone outside of our crew – it wouldn’t be nearly as funny to someone who wasn’t there (most of the time. Some of the lines are hysterical, even without context). We’ll run through an old list or two every once in a while when we’re all together, and through the majority of it, laugh until our tears run or we have to pause for a bathroom break (most of us have birthed multiple children, after all). There is a small percentage of quotes which are confusing, since none of us can remember who said them or what they mean. They must have been funny at the time….
As I was going through notes looking for inspiration (which has had me laughing out loud for the better part of 20 minutes), I came across the list from our Vegas trip. This one is a little different because the guys were along for the ride.
My beautiful and fabulous friend, Shanie, decided that she wanted to surprise her husband, the also fabulous Sean, with a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas for his fortieth birthday. She knew she wouldn’t be able to pull the actual location off without warning him ( unlike less detailed male members of our group, Sean packs himself for trips, and may actually be pickier than I am about his style and wardrobe choices for a given occasion and/or location). So the surprise portion of the program was this: Sean knew they were going to Vegas for his birthday. That’s it. He didn’t know where they were staying, what the itinerary was or (drum roll, please) that three other couples would be there with them. Ta-da!
We started planning this in late June. Our departure date was November 30th. I have no idea how we pulled it off. Seriously. As you can probably guess, we as a whole are not the most subtle group of people. And we are around each other a lot. As are our children. So, we had to sneak and planand organize in stages, avoiding the ears of not only Sean, but all our kids as well (because we all know how well children keep surprises under wraps). We avoided telling mutual friends in case someone slipped. We let church know we were unavailable to serve that weekend, but didn’t dare explain why. Steph was too terrified to let her child’s teacher know where she was going when she reported grandma would be picking him up, since Sean teaches at that school. We bought show tickets on alternating credit cards so he wouldn’t see charges, then had math marathons to try and figure out who owed money to whom. We scheduled flights and airports around his departure and arrival so there was no chance of running into each other during transit. It was madness. Fun, though.
As the date drew near, we became more frenzied in our excitement and more paranoid in our preparations. I doubt this much detail, coordination and precision goes into many military operations. Shanie had a giant laminated poster made with all of our pictures on it as the Happy Birthday banner. I had the honor of transporting that precious cargo in a cardboard tube on the plane. The responsibility nearly did me in. I am a nervous flier as it is. The added pressure about pushed me over the edge. None of us wanted to screw up any part of the plan – mostly because we love Sean and were excited to celebrate him in such a cool way, but also because, truth be told, we are all a little afraid of Shanie.
The close calls and hilarity that ensued in just getting all of us to Vegas and then to our condo could easily be turned into a Sandra Bullock movie (think comedy, not 28 Days). We managed to get checked in, unloaded , stocked and decorated. We prepped ourselves and the very amused front desk staff with about ten different scenarios on how and where to surprise him, finally settling on the back part of the lobby. When they finally walked through the doorway, our relief at having reached the end of the clandestine portion of our journey was so great that our shouts of “Surprise!” and “Happy Birthday!” we’re incredibly loud and somewhat manic. We basically gave Sean a massive episode of heart arrhythmias. He had to sit down with his head in his hands for at least 15 minutes once we got to the suite.
The next three days were, in a word, fantastic. We had so much fun, laughed so hard, ran around like we were 15 years younger, ate so much, slept so little….you get the point. It was a truly unforgettable trip. Even so, just to be sure and have back-up memory jogs, the list of quotes joined the history text of our lives, and has me giggling as I try to picture who said which line when. I’m in the mood to share, so here are a few gems:
· Is that an eight?!? (our sushi bill was a bit shocking)
· And then you end up dead in a fountain wearing a teddy (reasoning not to ever party as a swinger)
· I don’t do Hobbits (Denny’s had a themed menu)
· I will just dance in the lobby to their music (reaction to the cover charge at Tao. I think Pit Bull or someone along those lines was there)
· I would just like to point out that I am still awake
· Singing the wrong notes is not harmony
· That’s gonna leave a mark (each of us managed to run into something at some point)
· I’m pretty sure she was the one hiding chips in her pants (I have no idea. Sounds intriguing, though, doesn’t it?)
Ah, memories…..Isn’t it amazing how snippets of a story can bring the whole thing rushing back? How many anecdotes actually become funnier or sweeter or even sadder with the passing of time? How being reminded of a past moment in time can flip us right back into the emotion of that moment, no matter how far away from it we are? I love my lists, and how they bless me with a way to return to laughter and outrageousness, even in times when my faulty memory has let go of those images. I love to laugh….and a great story deserves another round of that, often more than once.
Solidarity, sisters. May the list of your life’s quotes fill you with laughter more often than not.