mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Reflect. — The Life Cycle of Our Mirrors

She looked at me with tired eyes and said, 

“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the face looking back.”

I’ve had my own similar encounters with the looking glass over the years.

And here, on the eve of my 41st birthday, I am becoming more and more aware of how I view my own reflection.

How I have seen my reflection.

How I will see it in the years ahead.

And how this has changed over the years.

Our mirrors have their own life cycles.

When we are very young, we don’t have time to pause in front of mirrors. We are far too busy and focused on more important things. Like playing and being with our friends.

So, our Mommas remind us to comb our hair and check our outfits, because we have not bothered to take a look at our bed heads or mismatched, untucked ensemble.

A few years go by and we begin to discover that we care about how we look.

We stand in front of our mirrors and admire our new hairstyle. We turn and spin and look over our shoulder, on the left, on the right to see our new outfit and whether it looks best with flats or boots.

And then we are overwhelmed with the knowledge that we suddenly care about how others think we look.

And our mirrors now become more than a reflection, our mirrors turn into comparisons. Our mirrors create opportunities for us to criticize.

And then it changes. Or how we look at it … changes.

And it no longer shows us what we are.

Instead, we can only see everything that we are not. And surely someone else is.

The color of our hair. The shape of our eyes. The size of our nose. Our complexion. Our height. Our weight.

We give these mirrors so much power during these years.

Power to push us forward and power to hold us back.

But if we are lucky, eventually, we find a way out of its grasp, we take back the power and we move on.

And then, if we become a Tired Working Momma, the mirror becomes irrelevant for a few many years.

The mirror disappears again for a time.

Because we don’t have time to stop and look in a mirror. We are far too busy and focused on the important things … again.

We are busy looking into the eyes of our babies and on the piles of laundry.

We are busy looking after toddlers and checking over homework.

We are busy going to games and running schedules.

And for years, this goes on.

Life.

Life goes on.

Until it settles down, every now and then,…  or 50 years later.

And we stop and really look in the mirror again.

Which is why we are surprised sometimes by what we see.

And we think we miss what was once there. The reflection that we saw before.

Before years. Before years of life.

Before kids. Before kids full of life.

That image in the mirror that we come to notice, an image that may have more wrinkles. More gray hairs. More pounds.

But what it doesn’t show, is really us.  As we still see ourselves.

So if we look closely, there is a more accurate reflection all around us.

For me, I see myself better in Y.

In her profile. In her smile. In her words. In her attitudes. In her personality. In her style. In her flair.

She is my mirror.

A mirror I can trust.

And for the record, …

A mirror that comes full circle.

She was beautiful.

She is beautiful.

We have to look. We have to see. We have to believe.

Yes. You. All of YOU… really are the fairest of them all.

selfie

Thanks for coming with me on this 41 day journey.

It’s been magic.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

16 Comments »

Help. — Invent Your Own Helping Verb Job.

Everywhere I look, I see them.

Verbs. Action words.

Eight years ago, when I was busy nesting and being all creative and artsy, (read before I had any kiddos!) designing a theme for my daughter’s nursery, I had no idea that I was beginning a theme that would define my purpose.

Verbs. Action words.

I decorated her room with canvas kites, painted by me, in different colors, each with a different verb. (See, before I had kids!)

Learn. Sing. Dance. Play. Read. Believe. Imagine. Dream.

Action words. Wishes for her. Challenges for her life.

Since her room is now all pink and full of horses and … other stuff… These now decorate the rest of my house. Play hangs above the toy box in the living room. Read holds the books in place on the bookshelves. Dream lives above my desk where I say I do my work. Sing and Dance hang out with my record collection.

Sometimes I don’t see these words. These literal calls to action. Sometimes they are just a part of the background.

Other times, they are screaming directions at me, telling me, reminding me what I should be doing.

When I forget.

And they remind me of all of my little mantras that I like to toss around casually and often:

“Eat well. Play more. Choose happy.” Or,

“Whoever does the most work, learns the most.” As an educator, I try to apply that concept daily, helping everyone actively engage in the work of learning. More of them, less of me. Or,

“A little less conversation, a little more action.” Ok, I stole this one from Elvis obviously and then turned it into my own:

“Either do it, or stop talking about it.”

I recently read the book by Bob Goff, Love Does.  I even wrote about it here.  I’ve been trying to use this phrase around my house when my kiddos ask me things like, “Why do I have to pick up these toys or carry these dishes to the sink?” Instead of saying the good ol’ standard of “Because I said so”, I’ve been trying to replace it with “Because that is what love does. Love picks up the toys and helps a Momma out!”

And since I like to play it fast and loose with punctuation and words,  I changed the verbs and turned it into all of the actions that Love looks like, sounds like, feels like, moves like.  What love actually does. Love reaches. Love helps. Love lifts. Love carries. Love holds. Love shows. Love goes on and on.

But we need to remember, that “Does” is really its own verb. It is one of those cool little helping verbs. Helping us do the work of (fill in the blank with your favorite verb.)

Family does. Church does. School does. Community does. Work does. Mission does.

Momma does. Felix does. X does. Y does.

Last night, I watched a bunch of people show up on a Friday night, after a long week full of verbs. They showed up at the local food pantry to help others. Others who are in need. I showed up, too, and tried to do my little part of helping. But I also did some watching and observing; some soaking up of all of the action around me. And I watched Y.

The girl-child so desperately wanted to help that she invented her own job. She went behind a table and helped. Helped people reach things they couldn’t reach. Helped people know just how many veggies and fruits they could take. Helped people know what was available. And when her little brother wanted in on the action, she did her best to help show him the way, too.

Grocery bags were filled by many hands who acted, who listened to the call, who purchased cans and boxes, who stacked and sorted and counted, who organized and ‘spread-sheeted’ and color-coded, who greeted and welcomed and shared with some folks who needed a little help.

While Mr. Sauter, my 11th grade English teacher would tell me that sentence is grammatically incorrect due to the overabundance of commas, I can only see the overabundance of action words.

Action. Verbs. Helping verbs.

Go. Do that. Go. Love. Go. Help. Just Go Do.

Take your talents. Your gifts. Your tools. And act.
What do you love to do? Do it. Invent a new helping verb job.
Help others as you can. Show up. Be kind. Help someone.
Do something.
With love. With intention.
Make it happen.
Go. Do what love does.
Be awesome and Act like a helping verb.
Let’s all, Go. Do that. More often.
helping verb
Today’s Action Challenge: List 40. Yes, 40 ways that you can help others. You can do it. No help is too small. From a phone call, to an errand. From a hug, to a note. From a gift, to a smile. How can you help someone else?
How do you show that you are desperate to help?
Are you willing to invent your own job to be able to help others?
Let’s all, Go. Do that.
5 Comments »

Audition. — Keeping it real because it has to be better than that time in 9th grade…

In the spring of my freshman year in high school, I auditioned for the school Talent Show.

With a little help from my friends, we built a huge cardboard Yellow Submarine. We painted it. We decorated it. We cut out the porthole windows so that they could open and shut.

Why there are no existing pictures of this masterpiece, I will never understand.

It was…brilliant.

And we all crouched down behind the yellow cardboard submarine, waited for the Ringo classic to blast through the old auditorium and then we auditioned. We lip-synched our hearts out all the while performing stellar choreography that included synchronous opening and shutting of the little cardboard porthole windows that we could stick our heads through. I think we were just about to stand up and do a dance while pretending to be ‘swabbing the deck’ … ahem, yes, of the submarine. (I know, I’m shaking my head right now, too)… when we heard it.

The gong.

Yes, we were “gonged” off of the stage during the live audition. I think I even heard the announcer say something clever like, “They’re going down…..”

Yeah. Clever.

So, when I decided about 20 minutes ago to audition for something else…I can only hope this goes better than that.

I’m auditioning to be on Blogger Idol 2013!  Because #writersarethenewrockstars! (Do hashtags work on blogs?! I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway because I play fast and loose with punctuation AND symbols.)

And because MommyVerbs is all about:

Doing my own therapy on the cheap, as a working Momma, a newly tattooed and just turned 40 year old who enjoys writing about life with X and Y while playing fast and loose with punctuation…engaging each day…one action word at a time.

I gotta tell ya, that I’m going to audition and keep it real at the same time.

Yes, I’m a blogger. But I’m a blogger in real time, in real life, in the real world.

I don’t have a fancy computer and a fancy office with a fancy, comfy chair in a secluded quiet part of my house where I can steal away and have focused time to write.

Nope. As we speak, I’m leaning on the kitchen counter where the computer lives, looking at the clock, knowing that I have about 10 minutes to get this done. I’ve just come from the bathroom where the five year old boy child ‘needed my help’…don’t ask, really, don’t ask…and I’ve now reminded the girl-child for the 4th time that she needs to go hop in the shower and wash that bird nest that is currently sitting on the top of her head because she has Girl Scouts in about 45 minutes. No one has eaten breakfast and the sink is full of dishes from last night. I’m still in my pjs and robe and I’ve got a list a mile long of things that we need to accomplish today.

So, sure, this seems like a fabulous time to stop everything and blog about my audition to be in the Top 12 of Blogger Idol 2013. Right?!

But if you want to know what MommyVerbs is all about….this is it. Mommy Blogging in real time. In real life. In the real world.

One action word at a time.

This morning…it just happens to be … Audition.

Blogger Idol 2013. It is bound to be epic. And if by some crazy yellow submarine inspired miracle, I actually make it into the Top 12…be prepared to hear a lot about it. I’ll be begging asking for your votes… did I mention, a lot?!

So, while I’m tagging and linking and tripping over the million trucks that the boy-child just lined up in my kitchen around my feet, I challenge you to do something spontaneous today. Something silly. Something on the fly.

Take a chance. Build a yellow submarine with a little help from your friends.

Play more.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Me? I’m auditioning for the Top 12 of Blogger Idol 2013!

Because I do believe…Writers ARE the new Rock Stars!

Since there is no documentation of the Yellow Submarine fiasco, here's the next closest thing ... our family Beatles walk. Yeah. That happened. But since I need a new computer and some shock-flash thing wasn't working, I couldn't do magic with this picture on PicMonkey. Did I mention I blog in real time? And now we are going to be real-time late for Girls Scouts...ack. Enjoy the day!

Since there is no documentation of the Yellow Submarine fiasco, here’s the next closest thing … our family Beatles walk. Yeah. That happened. But since I need a new computer and some shock-flash thing wasn’t working, I couldn’t do magic with this picture on PicMonkey. Did I mention I blog in real time? And now we are going to be real-time late for Girls Scouts…ack. Enjoy the day!

12 Comments »

Surrender. — We tried. We really, really tried.

This one is hard.

And I have almost published it a few times…and then stopped. Because the admitting defeat and giving up is hard. I worry about disappointing others. I wish it could have had a different outcome. But…

This week, we waved the white flag. We surrendered.

I really don’t care for that verb, but that is what they call it, so I guess that is what happened.

Webster says that “To surrender” means:

  • to agree to stop fighting, resisting, … because you know that you will not win or succeed
  • to give the control of  something to someone else
  • to cease resistance to an enemy

Check. Check. Well, kind of…Check. I guess we did surrender in a way. After over a year, of really, really trying…

We admitted that it wasn’t going to work. No matter how hard we tried, no matter how many tactics we attempted, no matter how long we waited.

We surrendered.  No matter…It just wasn’t going to work.

And even though this is hard, I feel like I need to share the ending to this story.

Which I’m hopeful might just be a new beginning for everyone.

I’ve shared many times about … the dog.  And I’m really hoping you can be gracious and understand and not judge me too harshly.

You know I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure this out.

Maybe it was because our relationship began out of desperation. Maybe it was because I had expectations that were too high. Maybe it was because my life is just too hectic and busy. Maybe it was because our personalities just didn’t match.

Whatever it was, all I know is that this entire journey has just been hard.

And as hard as the past year has been, it is absolutely true that I have cried more about this dog than I have about the other hard things.  I have prayed just as much about this dog as I have about the other hard things.

So, what made this so hard and difficult, you ask? Well, the list is long, but short. He never trusted me. I never trusted him. On the major side–He showed signs of aggression that made me nervous. He charged at all of us at one time or another. He tore clothes and knocked little people down. He dug up my yard with huge, really huge holes.

He grabbed anything that was on the floor and not for him and ran around my living room like a crazy dog, finally ending up behind the couch with the contraband. On the minor side–he chewed up my couch pillows and coffee table.

Ultimately, there was no joy; there was no comfort and love. On the rare moment, that I could get him to lay beside me on the couch, so I could pet him, there would be a few lovely seconds.  Literally, I could pet him sweetly for about 2-3 minutes before he would start to gnaw at my arm as if it were a chew toy. When I looked at him, really trying to understand him and his personality, there was really just…nothing. It is sad, I know. There was no connection. He didn’t really like us.

I would describe him as a really bad roommate. He ate my food. He lived at my house. He messed up my yard and left a mess for me to clean up. He slept on my couch and made a lot of noise. And he contributed … nothing in return.

And you have to know that I tried. I really, really tried. You name it, I probably did it. I probably tried it. I’m not new to this game, I’ve had dogs before. I know about alpha training. I read a couple of books. In a very weak moment in the middle of the night, I even ordered the program from the infomercial. I tried using essential oils to calm him and help him relax.

When I signed up for this, I was hoping for something so different. It was late one night, last summer. I was up late by myself, feeling a little lonely in the living room. When I realized, I was really missing having a dog in the house. I was missing Cayman and the comfort that Cayman always used to bring me. The very next day, I got a message about a litter of puppies, 14 of them, just taken to a Humane Society. Literally, buckets of puppies. I thought it was a sign. So I picked one out from a bunch of pictures—I’ll take the one sitting still, there in the middle, with the little white heart on his chest. I thought he was sitting still because he was the calm one.

From Day one, there was always something missing. He was always a little too much, a little off for us. There was never a bonding, never a connection. Maybe it was circumstantial. Maybe it was timing. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be and I tried to force the situation. Maybe the dog is just a little…not right. I honestly don’t know for sure. I’ve unofficially diagnosed him with Attachment Disorders with a side of bipolar.  I’ve since learned that dogs from really big litters like that tend to be a little more aggressive, since they have probably had to fight for food and for attention. I’ve learned that the weaning process is important and can make or break trusting relationships.

But, it has been a year. And it was not getting better. It was getting worse. X and Y couldn’t play with him. They would get on their bikes and ride to the walking path to get to the pool to avoid getting jumped on by him. I had to stop bringing him inside at night, because he started whining and crying and barking and waking everyone up. He was becoming an outside dog; an outside dog that we couldn’t have fun with, couldn’t throw a ball with; couldn’t take out to play or go for a long walk. He was just there, co-living in our yard. And every time I thought of him and his days, it just made me sad.

So, over a year later, I had to make this decision. I did not do this lightly. But I had to let him go. I had to decide to surrender and let us all have a start at a new beginning. So, this week, I told him goodbye. I petted him and kissed him on the nose.

And let Felix drive him back five hours one way to the Humane Society where he originally started, who promised us that they will take good care of him and find him a new home. And I hope that they do soon. I hope they find him a home with a fenced in yard to run in, with other dogs and someone with lot a lot of time and patience.

I hope they find him a new beginning.

And tonight, through even more tears, I will say it again,

“Good night H. I want to love you. I hope you find your forever home and new family very soon.”

surrender H

9 Comments »

Remember. — My Unremarkable 9/11 Story

My 9/11 story is not that remarkable. In the big scheme of events that day.
I don’t live in New York City.
I don’t have close family that live there.
I didn’t lose anyone in the towers or in the Pentagon or in that field in Pennsylvania.
Instead, I was at my little elementary school, teaching 5th graders.
Seemingly safe.
500 miles away.
I didn’t spend hours trudging down a stairwell or walking across a bridge.
I never, not once, had to run from falling debris and dust.
I didn’t get frustrated on the phone, trying to get a hold of loved ones, praying and worrying about their well being.
Instead, I did what I did every day. I did my job. I taught my students. I kept going with my unremarkable tasks of the day.
The only difference was…that everything was different.
That morning, I was walking down to the copy room, while my students were in Art class, when I noticed that several teachers had their TV on,  which I thought was very odd.
I stopped by a colleague’s room and she shared that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
I thought…
Oh my goodness, what a horrible accident! Oh my goodness, I was JUST THERE a two months before. I had spent my dream vacation in New York City. My Soul Vacation. A week in the beautiful New York, seeing Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, sunbathing in Central Park, exploring places by myself, pretending to be a New Yorker. I had met Katie Couric on the Today Show.
photo (5)
I had sprained my ankle so bad that it was swollen like a softball and still I managed to make it to the top of the Empire State Building to get my picture taken with the Twin Towers in the background. (All with a sad, severely sprained ankle, pouty face.)
photo (4)
And as I was thinking about my week in NYC, just as we were standing there chatting and watching the images of smoke and flames, we heard that another plane had hit. I couldn’t believe it…I couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t breathe.

But I also couldn’t stand around and try to figure it out or even begin to process it right then. Because I had 19 ten year olds waiting for me. I went down the hall and collected them, leading them back to our classroom. During that three minute walk, I’m sure that I experienced the full range of emotions from terror to pretending to be calm.

I remember that I just wanted to hold them all so close. Every one of them. I was scared. But I didn’t want them to know I was scared. I didn’t want them to be scared. So, I did what we did. Everyday.

We sat together in our little classroom “island” corner with the palm tree shower curtain on the wall, as we did every day by the rocking chair, and read a book. I couldn’t tell them anything, because I didn’t know what to tell them. So then I just told them how proud I was of them and talked about their amazing potential to change the world and make it all a better place.

I’m sure that they were thinking, “What is up with Mrs. Z. and her mushiness today?!”

Throughout the day, as information came out, our principal would type up a memo and show up at our door to hand us a piece of paper with the latest updates. I remember reading each one, fighting back tears, and then passing it to my colleague who worked in my room.

photo (3)   photo (6)

We would exchange looks of fear and concern and then try to shake it off and teach our … Math lesson, like we did every day.

We kept going. All day long. We made the day safe and normal for our students even when we were terrified and worried and shaking. And at the end of the day, when we got them all on their buses, sent them home to be with their parents and families, we turned on the news and watched the images and tried to comprehend a world that now included these pictures for our students.

And ourselves.

Like you. Like everyone. I will never forget.

Not because my September 11, 2001 story is all that remarkable at all.

But because I did what I did everyday.

I kept going.

Like everyone tried to dothat day.

Like I do every day.

And I keep trying to make my little corner of the world just a little bit of a better place.

Everyday.

Let’s All, Go. Do that.

Especially today.

3 Comments »

Does. — Act like a helping verb.

The minister of the little church in the little town doing big things has recently asked this question:

What’s in your tackle box?  What do you use to help others?

Since I probably haven’t carried a tackle box since I was eight and going fishing with my grandpa on the Little River, I had to look elsewhere.  So, I’ve checked my pockets, dug through my purse, looked around my rooms.

And everywhere I look, I see them.

My proverbial tackle box is full of action words. Yep. Verbs.

Eight years ago, when I was busy nesting and being all creative and artsy, (read before I had any kiddos!) designing a theme for my daughter’s nursery, I had no idea that I was beginning a theme that would define my purpose.

Verbs. Action words.

I decorated her room with canvas kites, painted by me in different colors, each with a different verb. (See, before I had kids!)

Learn. Sing. Dance. Play. Read. Believe. Imagine. Dream.

Action words. Wishes for her. Challenges for her life.

Since her room is now all pink and full of horses and … other stuff… These now decorate the rest of my house. Play hangs above the toy box in the living room. Read holds the books in place on the bookshelves. Dream lives above my desk where I say I do my work. Sing and Dance hang out with my record collection.

Sometimes I don’t see these words. These literal calls to action. Sometimes they are just a part of the background.

Other times, they are screaming directions at me, telling me, reminding me what I should be doing.

When I forget.

And they remind me of all of my little mantras that I like to toss around casually and often:

“Eat well. Play more. Choose happy.” Or,

“Whoever does the most work, learns the most.” As an educator, I try to apply that concept daily, helping everyone actively engage in the work of learning. More of them, less of me. Or,

“A little less conversation, a little more action.” Ok, I stole this one from Elvis obviously and then turned it into my own:

“Either do it, or stop talking about it.”

That is what I love about this little church in this little town doing big things.

We’ve talked all summer about what Love Does. I’ve been trying to use this phrase around my house when my kiddos ask me things like, “Why do I have to pick up these toys or carry these dishes to the sink?” Instead of saying the good ol’ standard of “Because I said so”, I’ve been trying to replace it with “Because that is what love does. Love picks up the toys and helps a Momma out!”

And since I like to play it fast and loose with punctuation and words,  I changed the verbs and turned it into all of the actions that Love looks like, sounds like, feels like, moves like.  What love actually does. Love reaches. Love helps. Love lifts. Love carries. Love holds. Love shows. Love goes on and on.

But we need to remember, that “Does” is really its own verb. It is one of those cool little helping verbs. Helping us do the work of ___________________. (fill in the blank)

Family does. Church does. School does. Community does. Work does. Mission does.

Yesterday, Mommas and Daddies and Grandmas and Neighbors and Kiddos of all ages flocked to this little church to pick up backpacks full of supplies for school. Backpacks that had been filled by many hands who acted, who listened to the call, who purchased supplies, who stacked and sorted and counted, who unzipped and zipped, who organized and ‘spread-sheeted’ and color-coded, who greeted and welcomed and shared with some folks who needed a little help.

While Mr. Sauter, my 11th grade English teacher would tell me that sentence is grammatically incorrect due to the overabundance of commas and verbs,

It really is what this little church is about to me: A whole lotta action words.

(You know, I was curious and I have to admit that I didn’t go and actually count, instead I asked Google, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy. But it feels like it could be right, so I’ll share it.)

The word, “Go” is in the bible 1,542 times. In comparison, “Stay” is only there 62 times.

God tells us to go. He tells us to move.

Go. Do that. Go. Love. Go. Help. Go. Do.
Take your talents. You gifts. Your tools. And act.
What do you love to do? Do it. Help others as you can. Show up. Be kind. Help someone.
Do something.
With love. With intention.
Make it happen.
Go. Do what love does.
Be awesome.
helping verb
2 Comments »

Receive. — A Gift, Just For Being Born

baby girl1

Welcome Baby Girl.

We are so excited to receive you into our family. You are an amazing gift.

I know you just got here, but there are so many beautiful things in the world and I’m so excited for you! Your Mom and Dad and Big Brother will do a fine job of introducing you to the world and the world to you.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to let you know a couple of things about this brand new gift you have received…this gift called… family.  A gift that comes as a part of your very first birthday!

Oh, I know. You think you have already met your family. And you have! But those are just the people that live in your house. Oh my, Baby Girl, there is so much more to this thing called … family. There are lots and lots of other people in your family, all over the country. Some belong to your Dad, some belong to your Mom. Some are related, some are not, but these friends are  going to be such a huge part of your life, you will still know them as family.

And we all have one thing in common, we love you and yours and receive you into our worlds with wide open arms.

I know it seems tricky now and we all look alike and a probably a little blurry and you are very busy with the new things you have to remember to do here in the big world. I’m here to tell you though, that this thing called family doesn’t have to be that complicated.

See, I’m your Mom’s cousin. You are not even a day old, I have seen exactly two pictures of you and I want you to know that I love you. That’s simple enough. Even though I won’t see you everyday,  we will get to catch up on holidays and maybe a random weekend here and there. I will be able to keep up with how you are growing and will enjoy your stories as you make your way in the world. Computers and cell phones and email and even that ol’ facebook make this so much easier to do.

And I’m just ONE of many people in one small part of this family you have received, who already love you.

For the record, I think your/our family is pretty awesome.  For one, we eat well. Maybe not in the new non-GMO, organic kind of way, but, I promise you, when you get teeth, a whole new world will open up for you. Family meals are important to us. When we are together, we plan, prepare and enjoy many meals together. Y says you will love the fried potatoes and of course, no meal is complete without a corner of a Maw Betty cake for dessert. Or before dinner. Or for breakfast. Or just when you are walking through the kitchen. When you are old enough, we will let you help make the icing (and lick the beaters!) It’s tradition. And you don’t monkey with tradition!

We play more.  We play games. Trouble. Chinese Checkers. Get ready for us, we can be loud.  We meet in the smallest rooms, gather around a table and tell our stories. Sometimes at the same time. We love music and movies. We talk about these a lot. As a matter of fact, we are kind of experts on both topics. Trust me. Learn from the masters. They can teach you so much. Words and music are powerful and amazing friends. Speaking of words, we are writers. There are lots of writers around you. We have dreams of publishing and producing.  We love a good story, a powerful poem, a soulful script. We have some classic tales and you will hear them over and over. My advice: Put them to memory. Keep them close.

We choose happy.  We don’t always get along, all the time. Sometimes we might hurt a feeling or two. Families do that, too. But don’t worry, we make it right. We love to laugh more than anything and we always, always, always love each other. Always. That’s what families do, too.

Oh My, Baby Girl, there’s so much good in the world. And your family is just one of the gifts of this life. My advice: Slow down and just receive it. Open up your arms and receive it all.

We are yours. You are ours.

It’s a gift…just for being born.

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Think. — A Lesson from a Walking Path

There is a little walking path in our neighborhood. It is a great path and it makes for easy family walks and great bike rides. It winds around houses and through an open field, passing a couple of gazebos on the way. It was one of the things that I loved about this house and neighborhood when we first moved in four years ago.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that it also can cause me some … shall we call it, angst? or maybe just some moments of … awareness … at times.

You see, this beautiful, simple little path goes right through our backyard. Well, it borders the property, follows the edge of our yard.  Lots of neighbors, and even other folks that are not our neighbors, walk along the path at the edge of our backyard.  I watch them walk by with their families, pushing strollers, dogs on leashes, talking with friends.

And as they walk, they look, they notice. And I can’t help but wonder if they are thinking things like:

“Wow, they need to cut their grass, or trim back their weeds.” Or. “Wow, Their kids can’t keep the toys and shovels in the sandbox, can they?!” Or. “Wow, Their deck could use some staining.”

When really, they are probably just going for a walk. Thinking about the nice weather or the blue skies or the cool mountain breezes. They probably only notice the state of our truly lovely backyard for a fleeting second, because most of us are walking around too busy thinking about our own stuff to really spend time noticing others.

And if they do notice, the truth is…that is what we all do. I think those same things when I walk by their houses. I notice their imperfections, too. But only for that same fleeting second and then I’m on to the next thoughts.

So yesterday, while I was outside cleaning up this same lovely backyard a little…the good intentioned, but neglected garden, the sandbox, pulling some weeds…I mentioned this random thought to Felix.

And then he did that thing he does with a simple question: “Why do you care what they think?”

Ugh.

Good question. Valid question. Thought-provoking question. (I hate that.)

Because I do. Because we all do. In one way or another. We all care about what other’s think. We just do. Even those that say they don’t, really do.

I have always cared what other people think. But…Pay attention here … This is important. It is not about any insecurities or low self esteem. It is not because of some ‘thin skin’ or misplaced value in other’s thoughts over my own. It is not just about what other people think about me or mine.

No. I genuinely care about what other people think. I’m curious about points of view. I try to understand people, what makes them tick, why they respond the way they do. I’m not empathic or anything, at least not officially. But I’m a good reader of people. I’m gifted at reading faces, body language, tone of voice. I pay attention to others. Maybe to a fault. Sometimes I can get so focused on managing the emotions of a room, that I can miss the moment.

I’ve always done this. Forever. Since I was a kid. I think I may have even done this when I was in the womb. I must have thought about this for the entire nine months because I was born with this little wrinkle above my nose. (A little wrinkle that says, “I’m a noticer. I’m a little bit of a fretter at times. I pay attention.”)  As a matter of fact, that’s how my Mom identified me in the hospital nursery. “Um…I’ll take the baby with the wrinkle above her nose.”

Caring about and noticing what other people think is both a blessing and a curse. I think it is part of what makes me a good friend. It helps make me an efficient professional development facilitator, which is part of my job. It is what makes me a good health coach. But it can also leave me with a little worry, a little fretting about other people’s thoughts and feelings.  It can lead to some over-thinking and hyper-awareness, which can be distracting and exhausting at times.

So, I’m letting this little walking path be yet another lesson in this life. As we pass by, let’s notice, but not judge. Let’s notice the good, not the bad. Let’s see the mess on the table as a sign of a good family meal instead of garbage left behind for a moment. Let’s see the toys underneath the swingset as a sign of neighborhood kids who know how to play outside and have a good time in the sandbox, instead of irresponsibility. Let’s see the too-high grass and weeds in the flowerbed as a sign of a family who is busy, probably with equal parts working and playing, instead of a sign of neglect.

In other words, …

path weeds

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Float. — River. Rocks. And Rapids.

We spent the day on the river.

A little family, floating together.

Slowing down. Taking it all in.

Over the rocks and through the rapids.

Holding together, looking out for each other.

Laughing. Talking. Teasing. Planning.

Enjoying the passing landscapes. The trees, the mountains.

The sun sparkling on the rippling water.

Letting go for a little while. Venturing out, each on our own.

Only to come back together at the bend in the river, the end of the ride.

And to go back to the beginning and do it all over again.

A little family, floating together.

……………..

Sounds a lot like life.

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A little family spent the day with this view.

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Stuff. — Lessons Learned from a Failed Yard Sale.

I’m not really a good yard sale person. I like the yard sale. There are some great finds and good deals.  I think I like the idea of being a yard sale person. But I’m probably really more of a poser when it comes to the sales that take place in the yards.

I do get up early on Saturdays, so it is not about the sleeping-in-late thing. No, truth is: I just don’t feel a lot of motivation, nor do I have the time,  to get up and into my car and drive around to look at other folk’s … stuff.

Because. I have enough … stuff … of my own.

Even too much …  stuff.

Which is why we decided to have a, very uncharacteristic, yard sale of our own.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do too much to prepare for this event. I went through closets and drawers and pulled out things that haven’t been worn or used in the past two years, or maybe four years. Alright, some things might have been more like 8 years.

It didn’t turn out the way we planned or expected. Good thing it turned out to be ok in the end.

We put up a couple of signs. And carried the goods down to our living room the night before.

And then.

It rained. I mean, poured rained. Thunder and lightning rained.

And my living room was full of … stuff.  And this … stuff  … stayed in my living room for a whole week. A Week. Seven days.

You know how I feel about clutter. And if you don’t, you should catch up and read that blog link there. Catch up.

To summarize: clutter makes me a little crazy.

But, I survived.

And the next week, we moved the … stuff… out to the driveway early on Saturday morning.

We had exactly six people stop by our yard sale. Six.

But I learned a few things along the way that I thought I might share with you.

Because that’s what I do here on MommyVerbs. I share. You are welcome.

So…here we go…Lessons Learned from a Failed Yard Sale.

1. Check the weather before you decide to hold a yard sale. Or. Check the weather before you drag a ton of … stuff… down to clutter up your living room for a whole week.

stuff

The stuff. The stuff that lived in my living room. For a week.

2. When carrying boxes out to the driveway, check to be sure there are not heavy objects piled between the piles of sheets. Things might slide out and land on your little toe. Heavy things. Heavy things that you are pretty sure break little toe bones.

This happened.

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Ok. I’m not sure it was really broken, but it was bleeding. It did hurt so bad that I thought I might throw up and I’m not sissy like that. On the plus side, I got out of carrying the rest of the…stuff…outside.

3. When your kids decide to ‘build’ a lemonade stand, the neighborhood kids will come. And when the neighborhood kids come over, you may very well be kidsitting all of the neighborhood kids for free for many, many hours. (Good thing I really like these neighborhood kids. Good thing they are good kids, too.)

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I really do love these neighborhood kids. They are good kids. But I’m watching them. Like Roz on Monsters, Inc. Always watching. Because one day, they are all going to be 15 and trouble. Together.

4. When your kids decide to ‘build’ a lemonade stand, they may make more money than the whole yard sale. Because they are cute. Yes, but that’s not why. It’s because they are ruthless, ruthless salespeople who nag and cajole and guilt people brilliantly into giving them money for lousy, sour lemonade that has been sitting out for too long. Brilliant.

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They made over $30 bucks at this little lemonade stand. Afterwards, I had to sit X and Y down and talk the biz with them. They had high labor costs due to the before mentioned multitude of neighborhood kids. They’ll need to work on that for next time.

5. Have alternate activities available for the times when no one is coming to your fail of a yard sale, to keep the multitude of neighborhood, profit-drinking kids occupied appropriately.

I'm serious. How can I make some money off of this Connect Four Savant of a kid?! Hit me up with your ideas!

I’m serious. How can I make some money off of this Connect Four Savant of a kid?! Hit me up with your ideas!

6. Most important lesson…We did sell a few things. But not really from the sale happening in the yard. Nope, we started taking pictures of some of the big ticket items and posted these on facebook. Then people called or texted or messaged and bought those items that were for sale. If only there were a market like that…some place where you could take a picture of an item, write up a little description of it, then post it online with a price for others to view and buy.  Hmmmm…I may be on to something here. Maybe I’ll ditch this whole full-time working Momma and part-time health coach and blogger gig and start up something that can help other failed, poser yard sellers.  Hmmm….maybe I’ll call it something like … Mommy’sList. What do you think? Kinda catchy, huh?! Stay tuned on this one…

And one final lesson learned this day:

Don’t schedule your annual family portraits on the same day as your yard sale. You and your kids will be tired. They might be pills. Cute ones, with cute smiles, but still pillish.

The Mighty Z-Fam, wilting a little on the photo shoot walk.

The Mighty Z-Fam, wilting a little on the photo shoot walk. Picture courtesy of FiftyCentLove Photography-who is awesome and pretends…and somehow makes us believe that we are not only superheroes…but also supermodels. 🙂 

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