Monday, January 30, 2012

Words to live by: Mother Teresa

Let this soak in...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Beat Yourself Up

Somebody else wants a crack at you first. Haha. Just kidding. Sort of.

I've had a rough couple of weeks. First, I messed up my back and was laid up for about a week. As a busy mom with three kids, there are no words that make you laugh more hysterically than: 'You need to put your feet up and rest.' Yeah, right. The day the Dr. told me this, my husband had a meeting that ran late and he didn't make it home until around 10pm. Totally not his fault but of course there was no way of obeying Dr's orders at that point. I remember the Dr. saying "Can't you call your mom or a sister or other family member to come help you out?" I teared up as I told her that, like so many others, I'm a transplant with no family or support system around. Mom is gone and everyone lives too far away and is way too busy for me to ask them to come help for something so minor. I'd rather save up a trip from the grandparents for something fun. I know this is pretty common in this day and age but that doesn't make it any easier.

So I laid around and did nothing (didn't even feel like blogging) and watched in horror as things started piling up. Christmas decorations still had not been put away. Laundry everywhere. You get the picture. You would think having an excuse to do nothing would be kind of fun. Didn't turn out that way for me, unfortunately, because I spent most of the time beating myself up for being a useless lump on a log who was being a major inconvenience to my very busy hubby and was slacking off in the motherhood department as well. I beat up on myself. Why did I do that?

Enter the two biggest troublemakers in my life. You may know them, they go by the names Guilt and Condemnation. They are always lurking in the background of my life waiting to pounce when I'm at my weakest. They are crafty little buggers and they are subtle. Sometimes I never even detect their presence until they've infiltrated the breach of insecurity in my defenses and I allow myself to believe their lies and take on shame. They create a web of damage that takes a lot of prayer and soul-searching (and soaking the shoulders of loving friends) to untangle myself from. Has this happened to you, too? I'll bet so. Guilt and Condemnation are equal opportunity destroyers.

Pile on top of that a situation where I was forced to make a difficult decision involving one of my kids and found myself feeling thoroughly misunderstood, as I was judged and found lacking by another parent who was quite vocal in their disappointment and disapproval of my decision and frankly, of me in general. This was particularly painful because it was someone I really like and for whom I had a lot of respect.

Being that I was already on board at that time with the fact that I was a useless lump on a log, I stood there and took a verbal lashing because I felt I actually had made some mistakes and besides, Guilt and Condemnation already had me on my knees and I must have felt I deserved it somehow. I regret that. I wish I had a do-over. I wish I had not felt the need to explain myself and justify my decisions regarding my child to another person. I wish I had had it in me to just politely say "I acknowledge your concerns and am sorry you are upset but am going to handle this matter privately which is my right."  I hardly ever say things like that. I always think of clever and brave things to say after it's too late. I'm lousy at confrontations and other people's anger and disappointment really immobilizes me. It's a by-product of an abusive upbringing that doesn't serve me very well. With God's grace and infinite mercy, I'm making progress. I'll never be okay with confrontations but at least this time I felt there was some resolution and I have learned to love myself enough to walk away with my dignity and self respect intact regardless of the outcome.

Many of you will read this and identify with me. Many of you will not. That's fine with me because something I am learning (at this late stage of the game) is that we are all different with varying talents and ambitions, desires, dreams and goals. We all have our own baggage and issues and whatnot. There is no way we will all agree on everything. We will not always be able to relate to one another. We will say things we shouldn't and do things to offend each other without meaning to. We will try to impose our own values on others who won't understand where we are coming from. We will screw things up royally from time to time. There will be people who don't like us for the simple reason that, well..they just don't like us. We need to be okay with that.

And that is where my dearest friends, Compassion and Forgiveness come into play. Compassion and Forgiveness can come in like a flood and kick the business end of Guilt and Condemnation right back to the vile place they came from. Here's the most important part of the lesson: Don't expect or need to receive Compassion and Forgiveness from others. If you do receive it, great. Just don't set yourself up for disappointment. Instead ask it of Jesus, the one who never fails to extend His love. It works every time, guaranteed. While you're at it, offer yourself the same loving gift. Stop beating yourself up. Put the bat down, wrap your arms around yourself and hug it out. You are loved and don't you forget it. I'll try not to, either. I know you'll be here to remind me if I need you to. Thanks for being such loyal readers and remember that I'm praying for all of you as I hope you are praying for me. Have a great weekend, everyone.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Man's Field Survival Guide to the Hormonal Woman

Whoa, there, guys, I see slinking away into the other room or slamming your laptops shut. No...this post is designed to help you (and in turn, the lovely woman in your life, presuming you have one...) to get through some potentially difficult times relatively unscathed and with fewer relationship scars. That can only be good, right? Right. So, this is no time to be squeamish. I invite you to man-up and read on but please feel free to pause now and again to scratch or spit or watch ESPN stats or do whatever you need to do to preserve your sense of manliness despite the fact that you are reading a post about hormones.

Okay, let me start with the first tip which is really the most important thing to remember as you are navigating the dangerous minefield of a woman under totally troublesome hormonal authority (who we will hereafter refer to as WUT-THA?) Here it is, and I'm capitalizing on purpose to get your attention:


This is important to remember because there will be certain times when you will want the WUTTHA in your life to own up to or even (hahaha!) apologize for her attitude or behavior while under the influence of hormones and she will have no earthly idea what you are talking about. She would rather eat dirt than say she is sorry for something she believes is a complete fabrication of your imagination. That is why you must learn to recognize the signs leading up to and during the duration of your WUTTHA's hormonal invasion so that you can protect yourself and others within her circle of influence. This leads us to survival tip #2.

#2 SORRY, I WAS JUST MESSING WITH YOU....THERE WILL ACTUALLY BE LITTLE OR NO WARNING BEFORE THE ONSET OF SYMPTOMS. This is one reason why we seem so cranky. One minute it's all sunshine and roses and then without warning...WHAMMO. We have an overwhelming urge to throw something across the room and hear it shatter into pieces for no apparent reason. Right after that we will burst into tears and sob uncontrollably about how much the thrown object meant to us. Does this kind of behavior make you uncomfortable? Well, that's too bad because in that moment, we won't particularly care and will demand that you hold us while we cry. So you see, there is unfortunately no preemptive strategy you can employ to prevent the inevitable emotional collateral damage (see I'm using man-speak to make this more palatable for you) but there are some steps you can take to mitigate the suffering. (Yours, not hers).

#3 Do not draw attention to her situation by asking pesky questions such as: Wow, what's your problem today? Are you on your...(you get the point.) This will only ignite a powder keg of unstable emotions. BOOM! No, don't want that.

#4 Under no circumstances should you laugh at her behavior in her presence. I cannot stress this enough. If you must laugh, stifle your outburst and hie yourself off to a safe distance, far away from the earshot of your WUTTHA. But be warned...our hormonal hearing is unnaturally acute and even if we don't actually hear the laughter, we will still feel that you are making fun of us. Fair warning: You indulge in humor at her expense at your own risk.

#5 Trying to make your WUTTHA feel better by showering her with compliments or offering sympathy will only backfire on you. Even delivered sincerely you will most likely be perceived as being patronizing.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT tell her you know how she feels or compare her backache and cramps to the time you threw out your back playing baseball with your buddies. Trust me...not the same thing.
 ** It is important to note that while compliments and sympathy are not recommended, gifts are perfectly acceptable as long as you make a concerted effort not to say anything stupid during presentation of said gift.

Are you still with me? Wow...impressive. You are a good man, indeed. At this point, I can imagine you asking: "Well, sheesh...what can I do to make her feel better, then?" Good question. The answer? Not a darn thing. But fear not...all is not lost. Here is an insider's list of things that are marginally safe to say to your WUTTHA that may not get you in too much trouble but are certainly not guaranteed to help you out in any way. Try saying things like:


"No, you are not fat. Not now, not ever!"

"Here's the credit card, why don't you go shopping with some friends."
(This may sound extravagant but is really a win/win as it gets her out of the house for a while).

"Yes, I'd be happy to."

"You have every right to feel the way you feel."
(This may not be entirely truthful but she'll appreciate it, nonetheless.)

"I can see that you are upset, but I'd prefer that you don't call me an idiot, please, if you don't mind."

"Take all the time you need."

"Here are some tissues...just let it all out."

"Honey, what you need is a heating pad, some Advil, a good book and a little space."

"Why don't I take the kids out to see a movie while you hang out and watch whatever you want on TV."

And last but certainly not least..."Yes, dear."

Try to remember that being under the influence of hormones feels like a full body hostile takeover. It is only temporary insanity and we really wish there was a way we could keep you out of the cross-hairs of our crazy mixed up emotions. I think I speak on behalf of all of the WUTTHA's out there when I say "I sincerely apologize for any ongoing inconveniences you may be experiencing as a result of our raging hormones. We will make every effort to minimize your suffering and confusion and to take it easy on you as much as is humanly possible in the future."

Now, enough with the chit-chat. We want a foot-rub. ;0)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Digging Out of the Rubble with a Teaspoon

Well, here it is, folks. 2012 has arrived right on time and I'm so happy to see that many of you are full of energy and vitality and resolve. Good for you! I, on the other hand, feel like one of those old cars you see people having to push to get a little momentum and then pop the clutch to get 'er going. Just not feelin' it today. My alarm didn't go off this morning and by the grace of God I woke up at 7:15 and was actually able to get the kids to school on time and everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits. Me? I'm dragging a bit. I have a fever and a sore throat and aches and pains. I just need ONE MORE DAY OF VACATION.

Realistically, one day won't do it for me. As some of you know, we have been on vacation in Niagara Falls since Christmas day. Before that I was working non-stop on a Christmas parade float for the elementary school (We won the Committee's Choice Award!) and then it was room mom and pod mom responsibilities for the school Christmas parties, etc. and trying to deck my own halls and get ready for Santa and get packed for vacation. To say that my regular chores have been neglected would be like saying that Mount Everest is kind of high. Major understatement. I am deep in the rubble and feel like I'm armed with only a teaspoon to dig myself out.

This is all my fault. I do it every year even though I say that I won't. I still have what my husband calls a speech impediment which prevents me from saying the word 'no' to anyone but him. I really enjoy the holidays but get so over-committed that I let things go by the wayside and end up at the beginning of January with a house full of clutter and half done projects and I stand around helplessly with my hands on my hips trying to figure out what to do first.

Here's what I've decided: I'm taking the day off today to focus on list making and assigning myself and the kids tasks to get started on. I'm doing essential laundry to be sure my kids don't have to go to school in 40 degree weather in shorts and t-shirts and will have matching socks and clean underwear. I'm putting a roast in the crockpot and then I'm taking a slug of Nyquil and taking a long winter's nap until time to get the kids from school. That's it. That's my big plan. Not very impressive, I know but at least I have a sort of strategy in place to move forward. David called to inform me that he has a meeting with the Vice President of the company until 8pm so that pretty much prohibits me from doing anything out of the house after the kids get home from school. I won't lie...that works for me!

So what if I am starting off the New Year at a snail's pace? Slow and steady wins the race, right? No condemnation or self flagellation, here. I'm ignoring the rubble for the immediate future. My teaspoon will be unavailable today for anything except stirring a cup of hot tea with lemon. Happy New Year and may God bless you and keep you now and always.