(Flashback Friday)For the Ladies

I’ll keep talking about this until we can get it right.  It’s that important.

What I’m going to say here isn’t new.  It’s all been said before.  Many times before, actually.  By many voices.

But so many people still don’t get it.  So I’m going to say it again.

Ladies – until we learn to support one another even when the decisions we make differ, we cannot expect men to have our backs.  Period.  When they see us picking at each other, going after the weakest in the herd, belittling, bashing, taking cheap shots . . . why should men hold themselves to a higher standard?!

My oldest duckling gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in early May.  It is such an amazing experience, watching her navigate the waters of motherhood.  And little Henry – yes, my granddaughter’s name is Henry – is an absolute gem.  Being a grandmother is a pretty sweet gig!

All throughout her pregnancy and these first few months of motherhood, my oldest has often lamented how vicious other mothers can be.  No matter the choice, someone will tell you it’s wrong.  This. Has. To. Stop.

If you breastfed, great.  But you better have the back of every mom who uses a bottle.  And you bottle mamas?  You need to stand with our breastfeeding sisters who are STILL fighting for the right to nourish their precious little ones without having to hide in a bathroom.

If you gave birth naturally, I have MAD amounts of respect for you!  But I’m asking you to cheer on others who used pain medication to get through the process.  And PLEASE understand that for some of us – myself included – the only way to safely deliver our little ones was to undergo surgery.  How the baby got here matters less than getting that little one here safely.  So let’s just end the argument over what type of delivery is best and agree that any time a baby arrives healthy and loved, how he or she arrived really doesn’t matter much.

Home school, public school, or private school?  Or maybe even “unschooling” (at least I think that’s what it’s called!)?  I have to be honest, that decision wasn’t easy years ago when my kiddos were little and it doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier today.  What matters most is parents who care and are willing to do their part to help their children get the most out of their education regardless of where they are getting the education.

The list could on for quite some time –

Do you supervise your children during their play or do you adopt a more “free-range” philosophy?

Organic food or boxed mix mac and cheese?

Homemade baby food or store bought?

Do you let children explore all sorts of activities – sports, dance, martial arts, etc. – or do you make them select just one thing and focus on that?

Have you chosen not to have children at all?  Awesome.  But could you please love on a kid or two as an aunt/friend/surrogate mom?  The more positive influences kiddos encounter, the better the odds that they will be fantastic adults!

You get the idea.

And my request is simple – have each other’s backs!  If another mom asks you for advice, let her know what worked for you and then cheer her on REGARDLESS of whether she does it exactly like you or not.  Just as each of us is unique in our personalities and preferences, the ways we approach mothering will vary from one woman to the next.

I’m so very tired of watching women shred each other for the choices we make.  We can do better.  And I’m hoping we will choose to do just that.

 

 

Book Challenge Update

Not too long ago I shared that I was doing multiple reading challenges this year. Yes, I know that sounds a little nuts but it’s actually going pretty well so far. Mostly because I’ve read books that fit at least one category in multiple challenges. Here’s a quick run-down of the titles I’ve completed so far.

**Disclaimer of sorts – I always start my new reading challenges the day after Christmas. It allows me to take advantage of the down time during Christmas Break and get a good start on my reading.

Here are the titles I’ve read so far, the categories that each book “qualified for”, and my brief reaction to the book. So far I’m very lucky that I’ve not run into anything that was completely awful!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I enjoyed the “sci-fi” take on the classic tale of the stepsister who had no friends in her home. Haven’t decided if I’m adding the rest of the series to my TBR – but I’m kinda dying to know how the whole thing ends since the ending was VERY open-ended.

  • Popsugar – set in space (took some liberties with this one since a kingdom on the moon factors into the story)
  • Reading Women Challenge – from a series
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – teen as main character
  • Color Coded – red
  • Ragdoll – been meaning to read (had a friend mention this one a couple years ago; it’s been on my TBR since then!)

Where’d You Go Bernadette?  by Maria Semple

This one was fun! It’s written in a different format. Rather than traditional chapters, the story is told through emails, letters, conversations, and the occasional interjection from Bernadette’s daughter as she seeks to prove why her mother, the title character, went missing and figure out where she might be.

  • Popsugar – question in title
  • Reading Women – woman with mental illness
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – discusses mental health
  • Color Coded – Blue
  • Ragdoll – award winning book or author

Scarlet – Stephen R. Lawhead

I had already read the first book in this series. I actually like this one just a smidge better! But it’s really not a fair comparison since this book didn’t need to deal with as much expositions/backstory/explanation as the first novel did!

  • Popsugar – inspired by myth/folk tale/legend
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – re-telling of a well-known story
  • Color Coded – any random color
  • Ragdoll Reading Challenge – color in title

Boneman’s Daughters – Ted Dekker

I’ve read this one before but that was a while ago! Still in love with Dekker’s ability to develop complex, believable characters!

  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – military related
  • Ragdoll – “blood”, “bones”, or fear in title

Rogue Fae – Ashley McLeo

I discovered McLeo’s work because of random conversation on Twitter. And I’ve fallen completely in love with her Starseed Trilogy. This title is a prequel novella. But don’t let the size fool you – it’s a great story!

  • Popsugar – someone with a superpower
  • Reading Women – novella
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – self-published
  • Color Coded – green

Rising of Three – Ashley McLeo

This is the final book in her Starseed Trilogy. Remember that random Twitter encounter I mentioned? I not only discovered her work, I got to chatting with her and have become a part of her “street team” which means ARCs and other goodies! This is probably the last of her books that will find itself on my list!

  • Popsugar – should be a movie (really, the entire series should be a movie series, in my humble opinion)
  • Reading Women – religion other than mine
  • Ragdoll – passes the Bechdel Test (actually, the whole series passes the test!)
  • Monthly Challenge – I took liberties with the word “top” for the month of January

My Favorite Thing is Monsters – Emil Ferris

Graphic novels are a genre I’ve not ventured into much. The artwork was impressive, the story had some really captivating moments. It’s the first of a series so I may or may not complete the story someday!

  • Popsugar – no chapter headings/weird chapter headings
  • Reading Women – Lambda Literary Award Winner
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – Graphic Novel
  • Ragdoll – Graphic Novel

So there you have it – 7 books and right around 28 categories covered. AT present, I’m reading “Escaping from Houdini” by Kerri Maniscalco and “Dune” by Frank Herbert. I KNEW I would love the Maniscalco novel (it’s the third in a four book series – title number 4 comes out later this year!) but I’m delightfully surprised by how quickly I became engaged with Dune. Sci-Fi is kind of a hit or miss category for me – some titles I’ve loved, others have been too “tech speak” heavy for me. I’m REALLY enjoying Dune.

(Flashback Friday)Relationally Speaking

Still so true it’s ridiculous!

Had a conversation recently with someone who is more of an “introvert”.  In other words, they need time alone to recharge; without alone time, they cannot function at their best.  She and I were chatting – and I should disclose that this conversation took place via private message on Facebook – and she made a statement that I’ve heard before – “I know you find it fun to hang out with other people and that’s cool.”

Fun.

Sure.  I gain enjoyment from interacting with other people in a casual way.

But it’s SOOOOO much more than that.

The internet is full of articles explaining introverts; they feel the need to defend their need to withdraw from the “madding crowd” from time to time.  I get it.  Believe me, I get it.  I have a sister who has always been like that.  I also have a child who needs serious amounts of alone time to function at her best.

And I am completely the opposite.

I NEED meaningful interaction with other human beings to thrive.  I cannot function at my best if I have been saddled with large quantities of alone time.

I’m not talking about the shallow “Did you find everything okay?” type conversation you have with a cashier.  Or the “How are you?” to which we always answer “I’m good.”  I’m talking about meaningful, share my dreams, talk about what makes me laugh, share what inspires me, type of conversation.

Ironically, I can psych myself out of calling up friends to chat or to plan a get-together.  The need for meaningful interaction – and that can come in the form of a fabulously intense belly laugh kind of evening – is so powerful that I’m worried I’ll screw it up.  Or that those I try to plan an outing with will turn me down in favor of someone/something they like better.

And I’ve learned, from talking to others like me, that I’m not unique in that fear.

So you have a group of people that need significant interaction with others yet who are afraid to reach out to others to get that interaction.

The end result of that is pretty predictable at this point in my life – if I’ve gone without interaction for awhile, I can get SUPER chatty once an opportunity presents itself.  And I know I’m not the only extroverted person who behaves in such a way.  If we’ve gone without a chance to recharge our “emotional batteries” in awhile, we’ll take ridiculous advantage of the situations that do arise.

I guess what I’m saying is fairly simple – where an introvert needs space and time away from others on a regular basis so that he or she can function at his or her very best, I need exactly the opposite.

For the relationally motivated in your life, the easiest thing you can do to help them stay “fully functional” is to be available on a regular basis for regular interaction with you.  Trust me.  You’ll both appreciate how much more emotionally balanced they are.

(Flashback Friday)Don’t It Always Seem To Go . . .

What can I say – the holidays make me all kinds of nostalgic.  This “blast from the past” seemed appropriate.

The title of this blog comes from a Joni Mitchell song that has been recorded by at least a few artists –

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

It’s a well-known phrase and some people even argue that you know exactly what you have but you don’t think you’ll ever lose it.  I can understand that perspective.  But I believe that while you may know what you have, you don’t understand the value of it till you lose it.

And some things you can’t avoid losing.

When my kids were little, we would stay with my grandparents when we went to my hometown to visit.  My grandmother constantly voiced her concerns that the kids were too close to the stairways and could get hurt.  She would wonder aloud if the room they slept in was too cold/too warm.  When my grandfather would take them for a ride in the trailer towed by his lawn tractor, grandma always cautioned him not to go too fast so the kids wouldn’t get bounced around.

As a young mom, it was easy to get exasperated and see her constant worrying as a sign that she doubted my abilities as a mom.  Now I understand that she loved her grandkids and would never have forgiven herself if something had happened to one of them when she could have prevented it.

I would give almost anything to hear her say, “Don’t let her get too close to those stairs.  She might fall” just one more time.

Right up until the day he died, my grandfather insisted that he wasn’t losing his hearing.  He was convinced we were all just mumbling.  So we’d repeat ourselves two or three times until we found the right volume for him to hear us.

Now I know that my grandfather was struggling with what aging does to the human body.  He had been an athlete and farmer, he’d driven a delivery truck for Standard Oil and had spent much of his life working hard at physically demanding jobs.  To admit to something as mundane as hearing loss?  I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating it must have been for him.

I would give anything to have to repeat myself, just a little bit louder, one more time.

When my kids were little, the constant cries of “Mommy” could get a bit overwhelming.  I had three girls who danced, all four participated in theatrical productions, had outings with friends, a few who did the marching band thing, all four did choir . . . you get the idea!  Having four kids in just under five years meant that there were days I had to work to find space to take a deep breath!  I remember, during those younger years, imagining what it would be like not to have sticky little hands grabbing at me or small people needing me all the time.  I was thrilled when kiddos started driving – or their friends did – so my schedule got a little more breathing room since I didn’t need to play chauffeur quite as much.

As I look back now, I see their “neediness” for what it is – trust.  They came to me because they trusted me to meet their needs and help them with their social schedule.

Now they are all grown and gone.  And I would give just about anything for one more skinned knee that only mom could kiss away.  Or one more “Mom, can you give me a ride?”.

I knew exactly how much I loved each and every one of these people.  But there are things I miss now that I never expected to miss.  I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone.  True, my kiddos are still alive and willing to interact with me via phone calls, texts, etc.  But they aren’t around all the time like they once were.

Word for the Year 2019 – Intentionality

A few years ago, I came to the end of the year and did what so many do – I looked back at the year about to end and thought about what I wanted the next year to look like.  This wasn’t about setting New Year’s Resolutions.  I know myself well enough to know that my brain and my life don’t function well that way.  But I did desire a focus point.

You may ask, “If you don’t set resolutions for yourself, why look ahead to the next year?”

Remember that “focus point” I mentioned?  I was intrigued by the idea of a “word for the year”.  It was an annual habit for a handful of my friends and I thought I’d give it a go.

I still remember my very first “focus word” – alignment.  It was a year-long reminder to myself to only say yes to those activities which most closely aligned with my God-given passion and design.  I even got a bracelet with that word stamped on a disc as a gift to myself!  (Check out “My Intent” here.)

In the years since, it has become an annual habit to find a word or phrase or passage of scripture that is my focus for the year.  It usually connects to a habit I want to change, a new hobby I want to try, a character trait I’d like to strengthen or develop . . . you get the idea!  That phrase/word/verse sort of becomes my “North Star” for the year.  I don’t really choose them.  I pray for awareness and sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit wants me to focus on and go from there.  The system hasn’t failed me yet.

My 2019 word has finally become clear.  I have to admit – I had to look it up to make sure it was really a word!  The word is “intentionality”.

Intentionality (noun) – the fact of being deliberate or purposive; the quality of mental states (thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.

The process of arriving at this word actually started with, of all things, technology.  A system update on my phone and iPad meant that I started getting daily reports on how much time I was spending on my devices.  These notifications don’t only give me the overall time I spent on the device.  I get a specific breakdown of the amount of time spent on individual apps.

*gulp*

clockWith that daily statistic, I had no excuse for the things I wanted to do but hadn’t done.  There was no asking “where did the time go?” when my devices were laying the answer in front of me EVERY DAY.

I wasn’t completing desired or needful tasks because I wasn’t being intentional about where or how my time was being spent.  True, some of the time on technology was productive.  But far too much time had been wasted with distractions.  Don’t get me wrong – I know that everyone needs downtime and a little bit of fun is healthy.  But I was out of balance.

My discretionary time was not being intentionally allocated.

I lack intentionality.

As I find ways to keep this word in the forefront of my thoughts, it is my prayer that my daily choices will be different; that my discretionary time will be more productive and exhibit a healthy balance between work and play.

What about you?  Are you a resolution setter?  How do you embrace the possibilities of the new year?