It feels like spring here this morning. Which is nice since it’s frigid cold in other parts of the country, including the part of the country where I hail from. Yet here I am in the northern part of the world enjoying temperatures in the mid-thirties.
I know, you read that and then re-read it, asking yourself why I would consider 36* weather spring like. Believe me, your perspective about the weather changes when you live in Alaska. Thirty-six degrees is warm. All temperatures in the negative digits are cold. Really cold.
You get used to the cold when you live here. You have to or else you move. There is no real in between unless you’re a complainer, which I don’t consider myself to be.
All four seasons are a great package if you think about it. Nothing lasts too long so as to bring about boredom. You get a variety, which is more than I can say for those boxes of Little Debbie’s snack cakes. Some of us don’t want a dozen nutty bars; we want nutty bars, honey buns, Swiss rolls, and those peanut butter crunch bars. All in the same box! Is it obvious I haven’t had breakfast yet? One of each of those would go great with my coffee right now.
When the seasons change, I can totally get on board. Except when the change is to spring. A season that I should be excited about, is one that I have mixed feelings for. Kind of weird isn’t it? Get cozy and let me explain.
With spring comes challenges. I can think of three to be exact. All different things that are all so intertwined. Wait, there’s four. I just thought of another one.
The first challenge is the slushy mud stuff that is everywhere when the snow and ice start to melt. This is a challenge because I like the slushy mud stuff. I can pull on my rain boots, take a walk, and enjoy the puddles and the squishy mud. Sounds great, doesn’t it? It’s cathartic and makes me think of fun childhood adventures.
What I don’t like about it is the mud splatters all over my clothes. These seem to be especially prominent on my work clothes when I’m heading to the office. Which brings me to challenge number two.
Challenge number two: I’m what my husband calls a fair weather biker. Since we don’t have a car, biking is our main source of transportation. Now in my defense, I’ve biked in the wind, the rain, and in the snow. I’ve biked when I wasn’t feeling that great. I’ve biked back and forth to work and into town and back home again several times since moving here. But in the winter, I go on a biking hiatus.
It’s nearly three miles to the office from my house. You have to wear a lot of gear to get there and back in the winter. It’s dark in the winter. So, I don’t bike as much. Well, at all really.
But when it’s getting close to spring again; my body starts to remind me that it’s time to get active again. Which means convincing myself that I love biking and can’t wait to figure out what to wear and what to pack up for my ride into the office.
And that’s where challenge number three comes into play. Figuring out what to wear. No one wants to be caught out in the cold without the proper gear. Especially me. But do I bundle up and risk suffocating on the way to work? I’ve already showered and won’t have time to shower again when I get there. Maybe I’ll wear workout gear and then change at the office. Sounds good in theory, but I’ll have to remember to pack all the right stuff for that outfit or risk looking rather unprofessional in yoga pants, a nice blouse, mismatched earrings, and tennis shoes. Do you see the dilemma?
Finally, the one challenge of spring that is so awful and so challenging I can barely type the words? Daylight Savings Time. I’m not a fan. How does anyone expect me to “spring” forward when the powers that be are stealing an hour of my day? I don’t need daylight long into the evening, that’s when I’m gearing up to go to sleep! I need daylight in the morning to wake me up and get me to the office on time.
Do the various seasons bring about challenges to your daily routine? Or are you one of those wonderfully amazing smart people who bit the bullet and bought a house on the beach where it doesn’t matter what the weather is, you’ve got an ocean out your back door? And if you are one of those wonderfully amazing smart people, can I come visit you?
You’re not alone. That was the one coherent sentence my brain managed to come up with when I was lying in bed this morning trying to go back to sleep. A person spends a lot of time trying to go back to sleep when they have a houseful of teenagers on holiday break from school keeping her awake.
Things in life have a way of making us think we’re alone, don’t they? The failing grade, the divorce, that challenging role of being a stepparent, losing a job, giving birth for the first time. Single parenting, moving to a new city, being the new kid. But you’re not alone. You’re not. You’re not. You’re not.
But it really feels like it. I feel like I’m the only person with insomnia and other sleep disorders who is awake at a terribly early hour in the morning with no direction, no plan, no nothing. I can’t find my notes for The Caged Bird. I don’t know what I want to do to fix the parts of that book that are lacking. I have but a small number of people that I can count on and it’s way too hot in this house.
We do a lot of things to feel better about ourselves. We curl, cut, color, and comb our hair. On days when we feel like lying around the house in our sweatpants, we put on nice clothes and venture out into the world. Okay, so some days we lie around the house in our sweatpants when the mood hits us, but not every day.
We also give up a lot of things to improve our mood when we look in the mirror. Bread, chocolate, sometimes food altogether.
Yet, sometimes, what we really need aren’t to deprive ourselves or to put on a costume to make us feel better. Sometimes, we simply need to re-frame some things. We need to be realistic and honest. So…here goes.
Do you ever feel like you're facing things alone? Consider the negative things you say to yourself and then re-frame them into something more positive.
Now that I've caught up on all the sleep I lost during that first week of Daylight Savings Time...a little something about springing forward into your future...
I loathe Daylight Savings Time. I don’t believe anyone should have that much power over the time. And let’s get real. Does it really serve a purpose these days? Other than to make all of us incredibly sleep deprived and irritable when we have to ‘spring forward’ and lose an hour of sleep. An hour…that’s a whole lot of sleep to be losing.
But I love spring. Well, I really enjoy it and like it a lot. I don’t really love it. I’m more of a lover of summer and fall. Those two seasons equals bliss. I like what spring represents. New growth, new life, the good riddance fond farewell to the winter chill. Spring’s nice like that…when it finally shows up.
Another thing I like about spring is the idea of springing into what the future holds. What better time than spring, right? And if I have to spring forward (someone please eliminate Daylight Savings Time…please.) I want to spring forward into my future.
How do we do that? I have some thoughts on the subject.
First, take a look back at your New Year’s Resolutions. Pull them out of the recesses of your mind, dust them off, and take a good long look at them. Were these relevant goals you listed? Or did you scribble them out (or think them up) in the heat of the moment when everyone was asking you what yours was going to be?
If they were real goals you believe in, how are you doing on them? Have you achieved them? Maybe you’ve made a little progress and want to keep going. Remember, any bit of progress is progress. Keep plugging along. If your resolutions have lost their luster, consider coming up with new ones that have more meaning to you. It doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you’ve started over.
Second, re-evaluate where you want to be by December 31, 2015. Maybe you’ve found more drive and determination than you thought you had. Or perhaps you’ve discovered you need to take things a bit slower or that you need to take a new path altogether. Whichever the case may be, take some time to consider where you are and what you’re able to accomplish this year. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve got to slow down or find an alternate path. Life does that to us sometimes. It’s about how we roll with the punches.
Third, give yourself a pep talk. Sure, pep talks are often given by cheerleaders and coaches, but if you can’t convince yourself, those other folks might not be able to convince you either. Take a step back, look in the mirror, and remind yourself of how great you are. Remember all those past challenges you’ve encountered and made it through? Remember when you didn’t give up? What about the time you did give up for a minute before getting back on the horse? You’ve got this.
Finally, choose a reward for your progress. Experiencing consequences when you fall behind or fail completely is no fun. But getting paid for making As in school? Getting the gold star for your hard work? Crossing that finish line after running the race? The trophy you can hardly lift because it’s so big? Yeah, rewards are where it’s at. They help you keep your eye on the prize.
Daylight Savings Time is an evil conspiracy, but if we spend time springing forward into our futures, we might be able to look past the fact that we’ve lost an hour of our day.
Okay, I’ll still be reminded of the fact that I’m sleep deprived and irritable. But at least, I’ll be working on my new goal. Which is how to destroy Daylight Savings Time once and for all.
What does your future hold? Life gets in the way sometimes and tosses us curve balls, but we still get the chance to have an impact on what we want our lives to look like. Are you going to spring forward into your future today?
I watched the movie Say Anything the other day. Yes, I realize it’s 2015 and John Cusak’s movie was made more than two decades ago. It was a vintage movie moment for me.
Two weeks before I watched the movie was the first time I knew it was a movie at all. Somewhere amidst the big hair and M.C. Hammer pants, I missed the minute detail of Say Anything.
Having been ignorant to its existence didn’t impact my life in any way. I graduated high school in spite of a few little (and a few not so little) bumps along the way. Grew up, had children, got married, went to college. I even landed a pretty sweet career deal the year I bought my first house. All while not knowing Say Anything with the trench coat wearing Lloyd and the super smart Diane even existed.
Until 2014. In 2014, my life changed and the ignorance I had been blissfully living in experienced a minor hiccup. Last year I watched an episode of Modern Family where Haley and Dylan break up. No, not that episode. The other one. Where she’s up in her bedroom and throwing all his stuff out the window. And then later, just before they roll the closing credits, Dylan is outside on the lawn with his cell phone playing a song he’d written to express his love for her.
Phil Dunphy comes out of the house, goes up to Dylan and starts talking. He says to the boy “say anything” and Dylan responds. “Anything.”
I had no idea what they were talking about. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I knew it was supposed to be funny or ironic or something. Phil is wise in his own goofy way. But I didn’t get it. I was having a Dylan moment. Not too bright, but at least I’m cute, you know.
Then, during a weekend date on a trip to spend $75 in Walmart gift cards (courtesy of the in laws) there it was. The movie everyone (probably) knew about except me. As I walked by the electronics area and saw John Cusak’s sweet adolescent boy face looking at me from the $5 movie bin, everything clicked into place.
In my head there was a collision of John and his boom box, Phil Dunphy, and Dylan. Stars glittered in my brain as fireworks exploded somewhere in the cosmos and an A Capella chorus sang “Hallelujah.” I was enlightened.
I did not describe this myriad of events to my husband. He’ll read about it here with all of the rest of you. Instead, I came to a halt beside our shopping cart, grabbed the DVD, and in as calm a voice I could muster said to him: “I need this movie.” Thankfully he replied “Throw it in the cart” with a smile or I might have had to have a tantrum.
The movie itself was rather slow. Sorry John. The party scene drug out too long. Diane is a tad bit naïve. And who tells her dad she attacked the guy anyway? Awkward. The little boy: too cute for words. The scene with the mom: ugh. It only took two seconds to dislike her. Good acting. Applause for making her character annoying. I’m guessing that was the goal.
But oh, the one liners of Lloyd Doblin (or whatever his last name is. The sound quality wasn’t that great.) Like when he boasted “I want to get hurt.” Swoon. A guy who was willing to risk it all for a chance at nerd love.
How about “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Wow. Bittersweet. Funny. Witty. Reminded me of the first time I told my husband I loved him. Minus the pen part. Truth be told, if hubby had given me a pen that day, I’d probably have attacked him. In a good way. In a Diane fell for Lloyd with everything in her kind of way. I love a good pen.
A complimentary hotel pen, even. My favorite: the illicit feel of the waitress’ pen. You know, right after you (or my hubby) signs the check with it and you (I) inadvertently slip it into your (my) bag. Knowing the poor waitress is going to be frantically searching for it or some cheapo replacement before her next patron sits down…
If I had a restaurant I’d make people sign with their own pens. It would be complete BYOP (bring your own pen). Or the waitress’ would have to carry their pens with a concrete block attached to them. Just like the bathroom passes were when I was in junior high school. Try and steal my pens. I dare you.
Back to Say Anything though. Slow movie with a few great lines. I’m glad I didn’t turn it off because of slowness. I’m also glad my writing instructor had instructed the class to focus on dialogue and conversation this week. My notebook and pencil came in handy for writing down great movie lines. And the best one came in the last scene.
“Nobody really thinks this is going to work, do they?” Diane says to Lloyd.
It took her a while but she finally started to get it. And Lloyd says…wait for it…
“No.” (Miniscule pause here.) “You just described every success story.”
Silence. Pin dropping. Bomb of revelation exploding. Lightbulb moment. Motivation, determination, and I-got-this attitude being born.
Nobody thinks this is going to work, do they?
Insert whatever you are working on right at this moment in place of “this.”
The book you’re writing. The new recipe you’re trying. The application for a coveted job, medical school, grad school. The test you’re about to take. The song you’re writing. The choreography you’re creating. The business you’re starting. The movie you’re making. The marriage you’re committing to.
Nobody thinks this is going to work, do they?
Now remind yourself of Lloyd’s comeback. That famous response shrouded by a movie of teenage romance, a father’s fraud, and a heart traded in for a pen.
“No. You’ve just described every success story.”
Confirmation. Success. The start of something big.
People will say anything. Some have no filter, no compassion, and no belief in you or your “this.” None of that matters. Because when nobody believes “this” is going to work; they’ve just handed you and your “this” a success story.
Dare them…to say…anything.
I believe in a lot of things. Love. Gravity. Life. The freedom to choose…I also believe that if we’re not careful, we can end up victim to the beliefs of others who knowingly or unknowingly are intent on destroying us. Deep, huh? I know.
It’s true though. Take the individual who uses his words to abuse. He may not be using his hands to inflict harm and pain, but those words can destroy a person’s soul. Those words can be the reason a person does not flourish in life.
This last week, I was in a terrible funk. I had things to write. Blogs, novels, short story class assignments.
You know the usual. Yet I’ve had zero interest in writing them. None. Zip. Zero. I would say to my husband, “Tonight I need to do my homework.” The words didn’t have to be completely out of my mouth and I knew, deep inside, I wasn’t going to do it. It didn’t matter if all I did instead was sit and stare at the flames of the pellet stove; I wasn’t going to write anything.
Finally, last night I told my husband about my mood. I couldn’t put a finger on why I wasn’t motivated to write and he’s great for bouncing ideas off of. He asked if I was feeling depressed. Not really. It was a valid question though as losing interest in something you used to find pleasurable is a sign of depression. Also, I noticed myself having little interest in staying in touch with people. Isolation, another sure sign of depression coming around and rearing its ugly head.
This morning, I got up at my usual early hour with the intent to write, knowing that I wasn’t going to follow through with that intention. The road to hell is paved with and all that. I lay on the couch, my mind swirling around with frustration and a desire to figure things out. So, I pulled out my journal.
In the old days before I became a wife and mother, I journaled all the time. Several times a day in fact and it was always helpful. I think it got me through high school, to be honest. It was tough, but I started writing with my usual “Dear God” format. Journaling for me is talking to Him about the stuff going on that I can’t figure out. It’s easier for me to stay focused that way than praying silently.
As the words started pouring out of me, I was able to identify what was going on and what wasn’t. And then it hit me. The ‘why’ behind it all. Hallelujah. It was just what I needed. And that’s where the beliefs of others come into play.
You ever hear of people talking about how they hear the voices of their parents or grandparents telling them what to do or reminding them of moral rights and wrongs? Not voices in the psychotic sense, but in the sense that influential people from their lives were still around giving advice and input. Well, I don’t always hear those voices, but I hear whispers instead.
Sometimes they’re so quiet, I don’t notice they’re there until it’s (almost) too late and I have to pick myself up back up after a bout of mild confusion and frustration…sort of like I’ve been having this week.
Who do the whispers belong to you ask? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re there and though softly spoken, the message is loud and clear.
It’s been a week of disbelief. Disbelief that all things are possible through Christ. Disbelief that I can finish a novel and get it published. Disbelief in myself and my abilities. All because voices whisper from the past that they don’t believe I can do these things. In the end, it manifests itself as attempts to “relax” or a concrete “I’m not writing anything” kind of attitude as I shrink away from those who are standing by my side and encouraging me along this writing journey.
Not everyone will agree with me when I say that I know God believes in me. And that’s fine. I’m not writing this to change anyone’s mind about anything. I know what I believe. And if He believes in me, it doesn’t matter what those silly voices in my head say. Probably those voices belong to people who didn’t always have someone to believe in them and they never learned how to say anything different.
Since God believes in me, I will work on believing in me. I have blog posts to write, novels to write and edit and publish, short story writing class assignments to complete. I have a strong support system of people who love me and have been standing beside me as I journey my way through the writing process.
Will there be times when I doubt myself? Probably. Especially as I work on moving past those whispered voices in my head. When that happens, I’ll have this to remind me of where I was at this last week. I’ll remind myself that God believes in me and so do the important people in my life.
There will be times when the goals we are trying to accomplish push back against our resolve to reach them. Sometimes working toward our goals will be hard. Not everything can be as easy as eating ice cream. When you encounter those days, remind yourself of those who believe in you. Call them up or send them a text and thank them for being there for you. Practice your craft and take a step toward your goal. It’s okay if you’re scared of failing or even of succeeding. That’s normal.
The fear might wax and wane or disappear eventually. When its presence attempts to interfere with your life’s direction, stand tall. Stay strong. Hold on to hope. Remember, the words of Art Williams “I’m not telling you it is going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” And if you’re a believer, call out to God in those moments like the soldier did in Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
That’s what I’m doing today. I’m remembering it won’t always be easy, but that getting my writing (and anything else on my to-do list) done will be worth it. And when I struggle with believing, I’m calling on God and asking Him to help my unbelief. Because I know when I can hardly believe in myself; He believes enough for the both of us.
I find friendship to be an interesting concept. You meet someone in any kind of setting, you say hello, and you may or may not end up with a lifelong friend. Or, in my case (and the case of most introverts), you meet someone in the kinds of settings where you feel comfortable (not usually in a large crowd), that someone says hello to you (because we introverts don’t usually start conversations), and you may or may not end up with a lifelong friend.
Over the years, I’ve made a few friends. Most of them back in grade school or high school. Some of us stay in touch via social media, and one or two of them through letters or cards or e-mails. But there is one friend I’ve made in my lifetime that was destined to happen. I know it was because when we met, she didn’t really like me.
It was 2006 when I applied for two different jobs with two different agencies. One was in the town where I was living and the other in a town about twenty minutes away by car. Both were interesting positions, but I really wanted the one closer to my house. Partly because it was closer to my house and partly because it sounded like something that would be a better fit for me.
I landed an interview for both positions. I’m pretty good at writing resumes and guarantee people an interview when I write theirs. Actually nailing the interview and getting the job is up to the interviewee. I did not get the more interesting job.
Instead I was hired for a job as a program manager for a small youth center. I did not expect to get it. I’d shown up for my interview, expecting it to be with one person, and found myself smack dab in the middle of half a dozen folks who wanted to chat about my resume and my skills. A little heads up would have been nice.
For the record, I knew nothing about managing a youth center program. I’m not fun, field trips are not something I enjoy going on, and up until that point, I’d never managed anything. But the pay was decent and I was interested in working in an environment that was less intervention and more prevention based. The commute was a bonus because it meant I could listen to the music full blast on the drive there and back.
And then I met her. The woman who also worked at the youth center. The same woman who later informed me she had applied for the same job I’d just been given. Yeah…I felt tense about it too.
Because I don’t make friends easily. Talking to people is hard work when you don’t have much to say. It’s even harder to make friends when your opening line is something along the lines of “oh, they should have hired you instead of me.” And they should have, she’d worked there long before my name was ever thrown into the pile of applicants. She’d practically put the entire program together from the start.
But it is in the company of a good friend that the heart finds a home. She was (and still is) good company.
We worked together four afternoons a week. It was our joint effort that bought snacks for the youth, cooked food for the youth, held fundraisers for the program, and took the kids on outings. We talked to them about their present day situations, their futures, their fears, and all of their zany ideas. Together we taught them how to celebrate Thanksgiving with fine china, threw some of the best parties full of clean fun and games, and brainstormed ideas over more cups of Starbucks coffee than I can count.
The first thing she ever gave me was an apple. I remember the day clearly. She came into the cluttered office where I was trying to learn something about this new job when she walked in, said hello, and offered me a shiny red apple. I don’t like red apples.
No one had ever given me one before though and I knew she was making an effort because I was in the position she should have had and she was taking the high road. The first thing she ever gave me was an apple. After that, she gave me tons of good ideas, advice, encouragement, and really great company.
When I left that job nine months later for my grad school internship, it was a bittersweet moment. For someone who had no clue what I was doing when I accepted the job there, I not only learned a lot about program management, but I learned a lot about what it means to foster a lifelong friendship. Well, a friendship that blossomed into sisterhood.
We live far away from one another now. A few thousand miles. I miss her, though not as badly as I thought I would. Because we are always connected. Whether it’s a text or a phone call or a letter, she’s always there when I need her. We laugh and talk and share our lives with one another almost as if we still worked in the same building.
I shouldn’t have gotten that job in 2006. I wasn’t prepared for it and I wasn’t the most qualified applicant. She was. She’d paid her dues and served her time as someone’s volunteer and later someone’s assistant for far too long. It should have been hers for the taking; the interview merely a formality because she was already well known in the community and to those associated with the youth center.
And every day since then, I give thanks that she didn’t get it. If she had, we wouldn’t have met. I’m thankful I don’t like red apples. If I had, I likely wouldn’t have appreciated the kindness she was showing me that day. I appreciate the fact that I don’t make friends easily and tend to feel like an outsider to family members I grew up with. If life had been different, I might not have realized there was a sister waiting for me.
Do you have a lifelong friend? A BFF? Someone who has been a blessing because of his or her friendship? How did you meet? #friendship #sisterhood
“It’s just love now,” Mr. Wolfers said. “We marry to find our soul mate, rather than a good homemaker or a good earner.” The Divorce Surge is Over…
I read this statement and had to say something. In 2000 on a lovely September day I stood at the top of a winding staircase, held the hand of my young son, and walked down each step to stand beside the man I’d found to say ‘I do.’ Did I love him? Yes. Was that the only reason I married him. Absolutely not.
It amuses me when I read people are marrying only for love. If some people are marrying for only that reason, good luck with that. I’m not opposed to love; I just take a more practical approach to it. I’ve been married before on the premise that love was enough when it clearly wasn’t. This
second time around, not only have I learned more about love and marriage, but I think this whole “we marry to find our soul mate” talk is a myth.
Love doesn’t pay the bills. I can love my husband until the cows come home, but if I choose to love someone enough to marry them, I’d like to choose someone who isn’t going to respond with “I’m going to sit home and play video games all day. But don’t worry, our love will pay the bills” when I ask him what time he has to get up for work in the morning.
Love alone doesn’t raise the kids. If that was the case, everyone you see bickering and back stabbing under the guise of “co-parenting” would actually be loving their way through the drop offs and pick-ups of little Jonny and Suzie.
Love doesn’t cook the meals or clean the house. People who divide the workload and take turns and share do. “Just love” implies a feeling casts its spell over people to the point they happily sweep the floor or clean the toilet with no thought behind it.
“Just love” sounds like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? Yet it’s not. Love is an action we must engage in every minute of the day with our partner. It means we compromise and consider the feelings of one another. It means we agree to disagree, sometimes we argue, and sometimes we put our own dreams on hold so the other can pursue theirs.
“Just love” never did anything for anyone. Love in action does it every single day. How do you show your love?