Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm no rock star

Last month I was sewing a princess dress for Halloween for my 3-year-old daughter and while sewing I thought, "I am only kind of good at a lot of things."  But it wasn't in a self-pity kind of way.  It was merely an observation that has lead to other thoughts and, now, to this post.  My thoughts are kind of all over the place and that is how I am writing this post...if you feel nauseated from the sudden movement at any time, step away from the computer and try again later.  I promise there's a point (or several :) ) in here.

My mom tried to teach me to sew several times while I was growing up.  I distinctly remember one conversation with her:
Mom (trying to convince me why I should learn to sew): What about when you have kids?  You might want to sew things for your kids.
Me: Nope, I'll just buy everything.
Mom: But what if you don't have a lot of money and you need clothes for your kids?
Me: That's why they have thrift stores.  Mom, I am NEVER going to want to learn how to sew.  Never.

Ugh.  If only I could slap some sense into my teenage self.  I asked my hubs to buy me a sewing machine for Christmas a few years back.  Turns out I have this creative gene I never knew about until I had my own home and children.  I feel a deep NEED to create these days.  And so my sewing lessons from my patient mom (who probably smirks/smiles when I call her with a sewing-related question) have to be over the phone or via Skype now that we live so far from each other.  But sew I do, darn it!  I've made curtains, comforters for my kid's beds, Halloween costumes, several baby blankets, hair clip holders...and I'm wingin' it every time.  Don't give me a pattern because I don't know what the heck those technical sewing terms are.

Back to my little girl's Halloween costume this year.  I was trying to do gathered, puffy sleeves for her dress AND a gathered skirt.  I'd never gathered before.  I was slightly  But I found a good online tutorial and went to work.  It was while I had everything pinned (we're talking 100 or more pins, people; they were everywhere!) and began to sew with no idea how it would look when I turned it right-side-out that I had the thought I mentioned above: "I am only kind of good at a lot of things."

I run all sorts of races, but I'll never win a single one.  I put my whole heart into this motherhood business, but I still lose my temper or am lazy sometimes.  I could be a better wife.  I like to sew, but heck if I've ever learned to follow a pattern.  I love to large groups or choirs.  I like to speak in public, but I sure can't do it without crazy nerves every time.

These thoughts weren't bringing me down.  I was thinking about all of the things I love to do and feeling darn proud that even though I am not a rock star at any of it, I still love doing each thing and it's not going to stop me from trying to do my best and also trying new things.

My OBGYN recently told me about a 15-year-old girl who is rocking the cross country world in our region right now.  She may very well take State even though this is her first year running.  See, she's a twin and she and her twin sister were really into basketball.  Her twin is a rock star basketball player who is already being recruited and this girl just never was as good, so to try and step out of her sister's shadow, she thought she'd try running. Now she's getting just as much, or even more, attention in the running world than her sister is in the basketball world.  What if she'd never tried?  Sister obviously has some natural gift that will only get better as she works at it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that just because we are not amazing at something doesn't mean we shouldn't give it a shot.  I don't even read music, but you better believe I'm going to learn to play the piano someday.  I might even take some voice lessons.  I don't have any illusions that I'll be a concert pianist or soloist, but the point is that I don't care.  I'll be thrilled to play the piano while my kids sing in church someday.  I'll probably cry.  I do that a lot after I accomplish something I never imagined myself doing - putting sleeves on my son's soldier costume last year (sleeves are very counter-intuitive for me), running a stinking marathon, putting gathered, puffy sleeves on the bodice of a 3-year-old's dress (yep, for real tears...I couldn't help it), finishing a triathlon when I can hardly swim, landing the best husband and baby daddy, watching my kids play together and seeing what great little people they are.

My life and my heart feel full even though I will likely never do anything to draw the attention of the world.  I may not be a rock star, but I try to rock the talents I have, develop new talents, and do my best.  And that's totally enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You just never know....

There was a girl I kind of knew in college who unknowingly taught me a profound lesson.

I had her pointed out out to me just once, but I would hear things about her every now and again from my aunt's family who knew her well and loved her.  I would occasionally see her on campus and think, 'Oh yeah, that's _________.'  I never said hello because she didn't know who I was.  You know those kind of acquaintances?

One day my aunt told me that this girl's father had committed suicide.  I was heartsick for her and her family.  I just couldn't imagine the devastation.  I knew that it might be strange for me to reach out to her since she didn't know me, but I thought about her so much during that time. I cried for her and I prayed for her.  Just a few days after I heard the news, I was sitting outside on campus and I happened to look up and see her, walking by herself, a midst a sea of students going to their next class.  As I watched her walk, it struck me that it was likely NO ONE who was walking near her at that moment knew of the tragedy she was dealing with.  She didn't look especially depressed and I thought that if I didn't know this bit of information about her, I would see her and think that nothing was wrong.

It was one of those very profound life lesson moments I will never forget.  I looked at the people walking around her and thought how little we know about the people we pass by, and even interact with, every day.  What was that guy struggling with?  What was that girl's story? What were the struggles some of my friends were experiencing that I knew nothing about?  Suddenly I felt so much love for all of the people I was looking at and I thought about judgment and how we should always be trying to lift one another because we just never know their private struggle.

There is a little quote I have seen floating around on Facebook recently that I love, and it actually prompted  this post:
Everyone.  E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.  The battles vary in size and strength, but make no mistake that everyone has their own private battle.  Let's indeed be kind and treat others like they are enough. Make their battle a little easier; offer our strength, withhold our judgment, follow any good thought to lift and be kind.  We likely don't know what their hard battle is or how something we do or say will lift them out of their battle, if even for a moment, or help them to finally claim victory and move on to the next battle, feeling a little stronger. 

Lift and love.  Kindness.  Withholding judgment.  I need to work on all of it.  That's what I am thinking about today.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I got a nudge recently to post on this blog again, and ever since I have been trying to figure out why it is that I stopped.  Busy?  Sure.  Always.  But I think it's because I am not a natural advice-giver and I sure don't have everything figured out.  So maybe I feel slightly uncomfortable coming off like I do.  I usually only give advice to people I am really close to or those who ask for it.  But then I often end with, "But I don't really know..." or "that's just what I think" because everyone has their own set of trials and circumstances.  So I hope you will take that disclaimer into account as I settle in and go forward with this blog.  I make no promises of frequency, but I do think I want to be in this for the long haul.  I just re-read my previous posts and regained the passion for the subject matter.

So this is a post I had in my head to do at the beginning of the summer, but never got around to.

I have cellulite on my thighs.  I have never been a fan of the cellulite on my thighs.  I have always been jealous of the women who have thin, non-cellulite thighs.  I have done my best to shield the world of the cellulite on my thighs.  This means that for years I wore shorts with all of my bathing suits.  I thought that the cute long tankinis with shorts were my answer when they came out...the coverage of a one piece that looks cute with shorts!  I remember the devastation that came in the dressing room when I tried one on because I had been so excited about it.  Sadly, those shorts did not cover the (say it with me) cellulite on my thighs.  So I was always on the hunt for a one-piece bathing suit that would match whatever long-enough board shorts I could find.

Note, however, that I used the words WORE and WAS in the above paragraph.  Meaning, the cellulite on my thighs coverage is past-tense.  I'll explain why.

I think bodies are pretty rad.  They do AMAZING things for us every day.  My body has healed itself of sickness, carried 3 children to term, is currently nurturing and growing another human as I type this, been through a miscarriage, put up with the strain of a marathon and other races without giving out on me, allows me to experience and appreciate nature, go hiking, taste wonderful food, kiss and snuggle my husband and children daily, exercise, kneel to pray, clean my home... And yet, as I talked about in my mirror post, I have a hard time not focusing on the negative when I look at my body.

In the past 4 years I have run my booty off and have come to the realization that the cellulite is with me for the long haul.  But last year I was thinking about how great my body really was and how healthy I felt and thought, 'Forget it! I am not covering up my thighs anymore.  My body is what it is and I think it's pretty amazing.  So I have cellulite?  So I've got some curvy legs and my thighs will never NOT touch?'  I just felt the need to celebrate my body by not wearing shorts with my swimsuits anymore.  Make sense?  No?  Well, it was a very liberating moment for me and the thoughts I had totally correlated with this decision in my mind.

The first time I went to the pool after making this decision, I was having hot flashes because I was freaked out about not having the safety of the shorts.  My heart was beating really fast.  I was about to ditch a 12-year or more safety net.  I was with my hubby and kids.  I'd told the hubs that I was going swimming sans shorts and he assured me of his love for my body and that I didn't need them.  I think I may have packed a pair just in case it was too hard for me.  But I did it.  And it was important for me.  I don't really care what anyone was or was not thinking, this was just for me.  I wanted to tell my body THANK YOU and I love everything about you.

I think we need to spend a LOT less time focusing on what we want to change about how we look.  I know there are many of you who are already fabulous at this, but I also know there are so many who struggle.  Sure, exercise and healthy habits are good and important.  But it's not about how we look in a bathing suit or the numbers on a's about how we FEEL.  It's about being comfortable in our skin.  It's about focusing on how incredible these bodies are that we've been given.  I think it's about celebrating all shapes and sizes. And, yes, even cellulite. I love the Dove Beauty Campaign.  If you haven't seen this Dove Evolution video, you should watch it.  Or if you have seen it, you should watch it again.  It's no secret that our culture celebrates mythical beauty and thinness (is that a word? it didn't spell check on me, so I guess it is)...mythical because so much of what we see is airbrushed or made over.  Let's change our own minds and in turn maybe we can change our culture.  Heaven knows I want it to be different for my 3-year-old daughter than it has been for me.  I love her not-so-little belly now and I'll love it just as much if she still has it in 12 years.  She's so beautiful and perfect to me and I want her to feel that about herself always.

Maybe you don't want, or need, to bag the shorts when you go swimming, but find some way to celebrate the miracle and beauty that is YOUR body!  Because it IS beautiful and miraculous.  It is enough.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Okay, I apologize that all of my posts seem to have something to do with running or races. I am a mom to three little ones ages 4 (almost 5!) and under. I have little time aside from the times that I run to ponder and think deep thoughts. With that said....

My run last week reminded me of a run I had last year at this time. Flowers and trees are at various stages of blooming right now; some trees are filled with pink and white blossoms while others are still bare. Last year in late March/early April I was just starting to run again after giving birth at the end of January. I was very out of shape and each run was a struggle. This particular day I was nearly in tears and frustrated; frustrated with the hills, frustrated with my jiggly body, frustrated with the struggle, frustrated that I had foolishly signed myself up for races so soon after having a baby so that I HAD to run....frustrated. There was probably some postpartum depression/baby blues going on as well.

I was running up a big hill and tears were stinging the corners of my eyes when I saw a beautiful bush with purple blooms. I looked at the bush and thought, "Why can't I be like that right now?!" Why can't I be back in the shape I once was, with my body less jiggly, my hormones under full self at my very best. I looked at some bushes close by that had buds ready to burst. I then expanded my view, taking in all of the landscape around me. I live in the Evergreen State, so there were majestic trees that had kept their green splendor year-round. There were other trees that had nothing on them yet, but I knew that within a few short weeks they would be filled with new leaves or blossoms; even without their leaves, they still added to the beauty. I found solace in this scene of nature around me. I felt more comfortable with my stage of "blooming" and knew that I needed to love the stage I was in and be patient with myself.

We are like the beauty that surrounds us on earth. We have our seasons, our peaks and valleys, and are at various stages of blooming. Sometimes I feel like the bare tree and know that I need to both be patient and do some work to fill my branches. Sometimes I feel like I am on the verge of being great, much like the lilac tree I can see out my front window as I type this; in a few weeks it will be filled with fragrant purple blossoms. Do you ever feel that way? Like there is greatness and goodness inside of you just waiting for its time or opportunity? Sometimes I feel like the gorgeous cherry trees I see all over town with beautiful blossoms. And every now and again I go through a stage where I feel like the constant evergreen tree.

Whatever your stage, whatever your state of yourself. You add to the beauty of life's landscape. Every season has its beauty.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking Outside of Ourselves

Last Wednesday I decided to pack my two younger kids into the jogging stroller while my oldest was at our co-op preschool. I haven't really used this stroller since my third babe was born since it's a two-seater and we are over capacity. I started out my run and was immediately dying! A heavy stroller plus two chubba toddlers=pain for the momma. I've mentioned that my run starts with tons of hills...yeah, it's rough. But I got to the flatter part of the run and because of how hard the beginning was I suddenly felt so much stronger. It made me think about some of my first races. I was always training with the jogging stroller in those days. When the time came for my first race and I didn't have the stroller to push, I felt so good! My run seemed like a total breeze.

All of this got me thinking about trials. I am of the belief that when we are in the midst of trials, the very best thing we can do for ourselves is to find someone else to focus on/carry/push. But it's sometimes so hard to do, right? We get so caught up in how hard things are for us and forget to look around. BUT if we do then we will find that our own trial seems so much easier. Not that their trial is necessarily more difficult than ours, but that the act of looking outside of ourselves can somehow miraculously lighten our own load.

Here's a little personal story about that:

When I was 19 years old and in college, I was in a leadership position for my church. The college that I went to was Ricks College in Rexburg, ID. It was awesome, but that's beside the point. It was also super cold and snowy and dreary come February, which is exactly the point of this story. I was told when I was called to this position that the ladies in my care would suddenly be having a lot of problems come February; mostly because of the dreary weather, but that they would feel very sincerely distraught. I was told to just be aware of that and to help them put their problems in perspective. Well, come February I felt like the door to my shared bedroom was a revolving door of issues. Poor women, all struggling with something different. I wanted so much to help them and would think about what I could say or do to pull them out of their depression. Then I remembered the February warning and realized that what everyone (myself included) needed was to SERVE. So we planned activities around this idea and got several of the ladies involved in adopting a grandparent at the local nursing center. I immediately noticed a difference. I gave that advice individually to some of those who were really struggling - find someone to serve. I no longer had knocks or notes on my door constantly...just a trickle. I shouldn't have been surprised by the dramatic difference, but I was.

I wish that I remembered to do this more often; sometimes it takes me a while. Sometimes I spend several weeks in Poor Me Land before I pull my head out and decide to reach out. There is something miraculous about service. It gives you enough of a boost to pull you out of sadness. I really believe in the power of service!

If you feel so inclined, share a time when service has worked to help you through a tough time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So I have this really weird habit - I try to make my husband apologize if he is mean to me in my dreams. Do you ever have those kinds of dreams that are so real that you wake up feeling all of the emotions you were feeling in the dream? I do. And if those emotions are hurt or anger caused by the Hubs wanting to marry someone else or ignoring me when I am trying to pour my heart out, then I will call him at work and tell him how horrible he was in my dream the previous night. And then I am silent, waiting for the apology I totally feel like I deserve. And he is silent, then aghast, that I really want him to apologize for something he didn't do. It's become a big joke between us, but that doesn't mean that I don't still make those phone calls. I'm a real piece of work, I know.

Sometimes we take offense that is really imagined because we jump to conclusions or take a position without having all of the information. Have you ever done this? Heard one little comment or bit of information and become frustrated, irate, hurt, offended? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been the one to unknowingly cause offense and realized that I recently have felt hurt by something without having all of the information. I want to be better about that. I think that having enough information is the key! There are few people in the world who intend to hurt others, so if we start down the road of hurt and offense, why not take the time to see if that road really needs to be traveled? Get more information, ask some questions, and make your choice. Because it is a choice. Most of the time (all of the time?), I think, that road could be totally bypassed if we had more information. Let's travel the road of love and understanding instead.

*I would like to note that my husband is the opposite of that man who occasionally haunts my dreams - I guess that's why it is so distressing. In real life he is kind, faithful, and a good listener. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011


Pardon my absence. I wasn't feeling inspired or inspiring and I don't want to post just to post. So today I'll do a combination post/forum question.

Last summer I ran in the Rock n' Roll Seattle half marathon. It was the biggest race I had ever been a part of - 30,000+ people! When I signed up I had to give my estimated pace/finish time so that they could put me into a specific corral. I was about 5 months post-baby and hadn't trained much, but decided to write down the time I'd done in my first half, just to push myself. Well, race morning was crazy. I had to walk/jog about two miles to get to the start line and then stood in an eternal line of people for the Honey Bucket (that's NW speak for port-a-potty). I saw the sea of runners moving as I stood in that line and thought, "Oh well, I'll miss my corral. It probably doesn't matter much anyway."

Well, I finished my business, ran to the start line, and saw that my corral would be the next group through...I'd made it after all! I climbed a little gate while a man yelled at me because I wasn't supposed to do that and grouped myself with my people - the people who said that they could finish a half in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Turns out my decision to be ambitious about my time was mostly a good one; I ran much faster than I would have because the people around me were running at a good pace. So even though I was struggling a bit, I kept running because slowing down would slow others down to get around me (the course was packed).

Then we got to the last mile and I was done. That's a problem when you still have a mile left. Darn me for not training more! I was so frustrated. I just couldn't get a good, sustainable pace. And when I stopped my legs would severely cramp. Stopping was no good, running was no good. It was rough. But no matter how fast or slow, I was still surrounded by people who were inspiring me to give a little more. I also saw others who were struggling like me. I said to a few runners, "Oh my gosh, when is this thing going to be over?!" "WHERE is the freaking finish line?!" I wanted someone to commiserate with; misery loves company. It felt like that last mile was really 2 or 3, but then I heard the crowd of people at the finish line which gave me the boost I needed. I was in tears and in pain. But finish I did...7 minutes behind my projected time, mostly because of that final, excruciating mile.

We are never really alone in life. We are surrounded by millions of people who are moving in the same the ultimate finish line. I think it is so important who we surround ourselves with. I think it's important to have friends and acquaintances who inspire us to be our best. I think it's important to take our eyes off of the finish sometimes and see who might be struggling so that we can help. I think it's important to set our sights high, to put ourselves in an ambitious corral, because often we can do more than we think. However, if I had put myself in a corral with people projected to finish an hour faster than I thought I could, I would have been discouraged and depressed the entire race. So we should also know our limitations in certain areas and be comfortable with them. I think it's important to be proud of your efforts even when you fall short; it took me several weeks to be okay that I finished so much slower than I'd wanted to...I wish that I hadn't wasted that time. My best is good enough, and my best is different in different times and different situations.

Fab Forum Friday Question:

What have you learned from times in your life when you've been placed in, or chosen to be in, an ambitious "corral"?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Balance: Trials

Everything is about balance, isn't it? And that's tricky because if you take your focus away from maintaining it - even for a moment - it's easy to lose.

There's a balance between always looking on the bright side of life and getting completely mired in self-pity. I'm not so good at finding balance in this area; I'm a bit of an emotion stuffer because I always think of others who have it harder. It could be worse, right? While that is true for many, it doesn't mean that we don't - each and every one of us - struggle.

4 years ago last month I had a miscarriage. I wasn't very far along and we hadn't planned on getting pregnant just yet, but the miscarriage was still devastating to me. I didn't like talking about it too much, but when I did I had several people say, "How far along were you? Oh, it's good you weren't farther along. You'll get pregnant again soon." The topic would quickly change and I felt like I was being dismissed. And I knew people who had lost babies farther along in pregnancy, had stillbirths, lost children, so I didn't feel like I had a right to grieve. My loss was not as great. I found myself saying, "We weren't quite ready for another baby" (our first was just 9 months old) and "It's okay, we'll be trying for another baby soon." I stuffed my feelings down every time they tried to surface.

Fast-forward a few months. Tyler and I got into an argument one night; I was not being reasonable and I think I was picking a fight. I had been on edge for a little while and couldn't put my finger on it. Our "discussion" was going in circles and I knew I just needed to take a breather. It was late and so I went in and laid on the bed in our guest bedroom. I prayed because that's what I do. I realized quickly that I had been stuffing my emotions about the miscarriage for too long, but there they'd sat, just under the surface, waiting to be addressed. And now was the time. Suddenly, I was sobbing like I had never sobbed before and all of my feelings of grief were pouring out of me. I finally knew that I had a right to them and that I needed to own them in order to move forward. I let it flow...and flow it did. For a long time. It was the closure that I needed.

We should not compare our trials to anyone else's - either to say that we have it worse or that we have it easy. At least not at first. Should we ever? Own your trial. Understand your trial. Say that your trial is hard and look for help from others if you need to. Accept and learn from your trial. Conquer that thing!

I've learned that even though I live around NAVY wives whose husbands are out to sea for months at a time, I still have a right to say that it stinks that my kids don't see their dad 2 days a week because he works and is going to school. It's hard for me...for us. But at the same time, it has deepened my respect for NAVY families and their sacrifices.

A balancing act, to be sure. Sometimes I put my foot down on the wallowing side for too long and sometimes I drop down into the optimistic side where I don't let myself really feel. Own my feelings, but don't get mired in them. I'm not always good at it. Maybe I'm never really good at it? But I'm trying.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good Enough to Do Good

We are good enough to do good in the world NOW! We don't have to wait to be the best at something, have enough money, or possess some wonderful talent to reach out and help others.

I've mentioned that I've done a few triathlons (swim-bike-run). In one of my posts I eluded to a person being one of the very last out of the water during a tri; that was me, in case you didn't catch that. I don't really know how to swim. Sure, I can stay afloat and move my body through the water, but it's not with any grace, that's fo' sho'. I don't know any real strokes. But, sure, sign me up for a triathlon in open water with hundreds of other swimmers splashing around me! It's scary and I am s-l-o-w. The bike portion isn't all that awesome either. AND I'm not a very fast runner. But slow and steady wins....errr *ahem* scratch that...finishes the race in a sweaty heap. But the point is that I finished, darn it!

I have a story to share from one of my triathlons. This is taken from my personal blog right after it happened:

I was coming to the last portion of the race and way ahead I saw this guy walking. My first thought was, "Good. Someone to pass." I'm kind of competitive but not super fast, so when I see that I can pass someone, that gives me a little adrenaline kick and some sort of thrill. I know, not very nice. There was another group of girls that were running slower and I had just passed them. We were coming into the home stretch. I was coming up on this guy who I had seen walking for quite some time and just as I passed him I touched his arm and said, "Run!" I don't know what surprised me more - that I said it or that he actually responded. He immediately started running alongside me. As we were running I said, "You push me and I'll push you." He sounded desperate and on the verge of tears and said, "I'm trying!" "You're doing great! Just keep going," I said. I have to tell you that I felt electrified from my head to my toes. Literally. It was physical. I felt so proud of this man I did not know. I was pulling for him and suddenly didn't care about my own race anymore. I wanted him to feel great about his finish. I was on the verge of tears myself, but for a different reason. The end of a race always feels emotional to me and this was adding a different element to that emotion. He gasped, "How much longer?!" I told him that we were almost there, it couldn't be more than .2 miles. Suddenly we came around a corner and there was the finish line, lined with people cheering. I said, "Come on!" and we kicked it up and ran our hearts out to the finish. I heard his wife or some lady cheering for him as we were reaching the finish line.He and I didn't talk afterward (like either of us could talk at that point), but it was a really cool experience for me. All I could think about for the rest of the day was how good it felt to help someone else to the finish line. It was a different kind of feeling at the finish than I've ever had before. I'm tearing up just typing this out and thinking about it.

I was not the best triathlete, but I think I made a tiny difference in how this man felt about how he finished. And it was my best experience yet. Taking the focus off of my finish time made it so much more enjoyable! In subsequent races I have been the one lifted by a word of encouragement from a fellow runner at the time I most needed it. Sometimes we do the lifting and sometimes we are the ones who need the lift. That's true of all service, isn't it?

Focusing on others can make a world of difference in how we feel about our particular "race". So I encourage you to just ACT. If you have the thought to do something for someone, just do it. You may not know how it will affect their life, but it will affect you for the better. Guaranteed. Don't wait to have more or to be more, you are ENOUGH to make a difference now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fab Forum Friday

Today's Question:

Who has inspired you lately?

Give specifics. It could be that you've been inspired by how a friend organizes her pantry, a co-worker who has a really positive attitude, or good ol' Oprah. Who has inspired you and how will it change your life? Please share. Chances are, the inspiration will spread!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When I was a teenager, I would stand in the mirror getting ready for the day with my little sisters, 2 and 4 years younger than me, and say, "Oh my gosh. I am SO beautiful. Look at my hair; I have such nice hair. Don't I have beautiful eyes? I am SO pretty!" I thought it was so funny because I would feign seriousness and they would roll their eyes at me. Apparently it became a source of great concern, though, because my mom told me that my youngest sister had come to her, sincerely worried that I was conceited and suggested she should talk to me about it.

My relationship with the mirror is slightly strained these days. For one, I don't have the time to stare at back at my mug. Getting ready is get in, get out, get on with it. But when the hubs is home and I can take my time getting ready, if I stand back to look at myself I might think every now and again, "Oh, I look pretty good today." But then my eyes will wander down to love handles or arms that I wish weren't so flabby and I find myself frustrated so I move quickly out of reflection range and get on with life.

Why are mirrors so powerful? Or why do we allow them to have so much power? They can tell us we're beautiful, ugly, too thin, not thin enough, lacking in some area, bulging in others...but that's only if we let them!

I went through one particularly rough year in high school where I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be (I'm sure I'm the only teenager to experience this....) I was extremely lonely and confused and didn't think much of myself. But I was - and am - the praying type so I would often pray to see myself the way that God sees me. One day I was sitting on the floor in front of the full-length mirror in my bedroom, putting on my makeup (because that's how my friend, Cathy, did her makeup and I thought she was really cool.) On this particular day I started to just look at all of the features of my face and quickly came to my eyes. I stared into my eyes for a long time and it suddenly turned very emotional for me. I've heard many times the phrase, "The eyes are the window to the soul" and I am of the belief that we do have souls that lived before and will go on living after we die. Well, I could see and feel my soul at that moment. It was powerful, shocking, and life-changing. I suddenly knew that inside this body of mine was a strong, beautiful, incredible soul and I needed to give her the opportunity to shine. I started to cry, but I did not want to break the gaze. I sat there for a very long time and made promises to myself to live up to my potential, to love me for who I was, and I felt confidence quickly seeping back into my body. I told the girl in the mirror that I loved her...and that felt SO good. I don't know how long I sat there, but it felt like a very long time. Finally I felt like it was okay to turn away from the mirror and I went and told my mom about my experience. That was a defining moment in my life.

I highly recommend this exercise to anyone. We should be able to tell ourselves, "I love you" and really mean it. We should know more about the soul that is housed inside of our bodies and what she/he is capable of. We should be able to look in the mirror and only allow it to be a force for good in our lives. The mirror only has power if you concede yours. Don't give that power up because then all you will see is what you want to change. Look for the complete you next time you look in the mirror. And throw in a few "I love yous" to the person looking back. It's also a good exercise to say - and really believe - that your hair, eyes, and other features are beautiful...even if it makes your sisters roll their eyes. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

To compare or not to compare?

I was extremely pregnant with my first baby, sitting on the couch with my hubby watching Biggest Loser: Couples in April of 2006. One of the couples that made it to the end went home for a few months before the finale and ran a stinkin' triathlon! Amazing, right? I love that show; so inspiring. Anyway, there's something about being large with child that makes you want to do things you've never done. Maybe it's all of those hormones, the fact that you haven't seen your feet for several months, or the large amounts of ice cream and cereal one consumes (okay, maybe that's just me) and the fact that everything jiggles. Whatever it was, I turned to my husband and said, "If they can do it, we can do it." Now I knew my husband could do it, but I hadn't consistently exercised in...well...ever. Long story short, I ran my first triathlon a little over a year after my babe was born. It was one of the more exhilarating and empowering experiences of my life and has kept me signing up for various races ever since. Thank you, couple from Hawai'i for the inspiration!

This past Saturday I went for a run because I have to get my booty in gear for the races I am doing this summer. I really keep signing up to scare myself into shape, and it totally works for me. But, I wasn't feeling it that morning. I did NOT want to run. I live at the bottom of a hill in a neighborhood on a ridge, so my run starts out with some awful hills, which is pretty discouraging when you already wish you were in your warm house, in your pj's, with your little family instead of purposely putting your body and lungs through pain. I got to the top of the third hill and onto the main road when I saw another runner across the street. He looked so confident and happy to be running. I noticed my slumped shoulders and drooping head and immediately felt my posture change as I tried to copy his form so that I could enjoy the rest of my run. And it totally worked! That change in posture and the happy runner made a world of difference. Thanks, dude with the dog for making my run a happy one!

There are good comparisons. It is so good to look at people around you and try to implement great things they do in your life. I know that most everyone does this already, so that's not exactly what I am preaching here. It's when we run too far with those comparisons and allow ourselves to become discouraged that things go south. I struggle with this.

I have a very dear friend who inspires me to be better and to do more every time I talk to her (which isn't often enough.) She is honest, sincere, funny, beautiful, smart, home schools her kids, exercises nearly every day, whips up cookies for neighbors, throws cool parties, blogs, has an extremely busy husband, just got a new puppy, and makes every person she talks to feel super important and loved. I always come away from talking to her thinking of 5-10 things I want to change or do better in my life. But I am coming up on Kindergarten for my oldest and I am not going to home school. I think she would hate that I've felt some guilt about that, but I have. "Am I less of a mother because I'm not homeschooling my children?" I've asked myself that question more than a few times. But the answer is NO! (Right? The answer is no? :) )

Sure, try out something in your life that you've seen someone else be successful with if you feel so inclined. Look for ways to be better in your career, in your marriage, in your friendships, as a neighbor, wife, mother (father too...first comment from a dude on the last post!) Just be sure that when you are looking around the figurative room, seeing the amazing qualities in those around you, that your eyes lock with that incredible person in the mirror. Give her props for what she does well too. And don't feel bad that you can't whip up a fabulous built-in cabinet for your home like another super talented lady you know. You can put some painted clothespins on ribbon to display your kid's art work! Hooray for you!

In short, don't let the comparisons go to the dark side and remember that you so totally rock and have a lot to offer by way of inspiration as well for those around you. THEY are looking at YOU for ways to improve themselves. Believe it, because it is true. There is not a single person I know who doesn't have at least one quality I admire. Please don't be discouraged by the talents or abilities you lack, be inspired! Don't let the fact that you are the world's slowest swimmer and are one of the last to get out of the water keep you from doing a triathlon or four. To keep comparisons good, you have to be good to yourself.

LOVED the comments from this weekend's forum. You should go back and read them if you haven't already. Elizabeth's final paragraph is right in line with this post. Oh, and Marty Overfelt is the first dude I was referring to. Thanks, Marty! I really enjoyed your thoughts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fab Forum Friday

On Fridays I'll post some kind of question for you all to answer over the weekend...the comments are the very best part about this blog (all two posts of it :) )!

Today's Question:

How do you balance feeling good enough with the feeling that you aren't doing enough?

Because it's important to have goals, but we also need to love ourselves for who we are at the moment. Make sense? Discuss.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nobody Cares!

A quick note: I loved, loved, loved your comments! Thank you for reading, thank you for encouraging, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's obvious that we are all going to learn a lot from each other and I hope you keep the comments rolling. I think we'll also have some guest posts by those of you who want to share something specific that you have learned or struggle with. You can e-mail me at if you'd like the chance to post in the future. Thank you!

I married my sweet husband and after a three-day honeymoon we moved across the country--switched coasts--put our cars on a truck, along with our wedding gifts, newly purchased couch and entertainment center from RC Willey (where I got an employee discount) so the paid-for-by-the-new-employer moving company could make the drive for us while we comfortably flew--arrived in January to bitter cold with a new coat thanks to my in-laws who knew this girl from the desert was in for a rude awakening. I grew up in Las Vegas, much of Hubby's family was in Denver and we settled into our first apartment in Upstate New York. (I totally recommend this for newlyweds, by the way. Not specifically the New York in January part, but the part where you move away from both sides of the family at the beginning of your marriage. Except when it comes to my children. I recommend that they live about 5 minutes from me.) I had a lot of family and good friends on the other side of the United States who I was SURE wanted to have updates on our lives and know how we were settling in, so I would send long-winded e-mails with some frequency to a large group of people.

These e-mails only picked up recipients and interest when we moved BACK across the country, this time to Washington State. By interest I don't mean that the readers began clamoring for more...the added interest was because I was growing a little human inside of me which is infinitely more interesting than the walk we went on by the river or that I made meatloaf for the first time. My husband would read these e-mails and say, "WHO wants to know this much about our lives? Nobody really cares this much." There would be the occasional friend or family member, though, who would tell me, "I love your e-mails! Thanks for sending them. Keep it up!" If this was said just to me, I would make sure that it was repeated in the presence of my sweet husband. "See?! People care!" And he would just smile and shake his head, I'm sure silently cursing them for encouraging his verbose wife.

Fast-forward some. Now we've added children, three to be exact. I have an obsession passed down from my mother for Baby Magic lotion. It's heavenly. If you've never had the pleasure of smelling it, you should. Every time we leave the house, I MUST put Baby Magic on my kid's heads so that they will smell appealing and everyone who holds them or hugs them will instantly be more in love because they smell so good. I also have to fix hair - which involves more Baby Magic - and make sure clothes are presentable. MOST of the time, Hubby doesn't mind. But when we are just going to one store, running late, or if he is taking the kids out by himself and I insist on taking the time to freshen them up, he'll insist, "Nobody cares!"

When I stand in front of the mirror, frustrated by bad hair or a shirt that doesn't fit the same because I've had three babies and eat too much ice cream and cookies, he'll say, "Dana, nobody cares." Followed with a comment on how beautiful I am, of course; brother knows what's good for him.

Our oldest son is into making his own fashion choices these days (he's 4) which would involve his Wolverine costume every time if he were permitted. And somehow when my husband dresses the kids he has the uncanny ability to pick the one shirt in their entire closet that I really don't like and never put on them and then match it with the pair of pants that I should have packed away months ago because they are too small. It is SO hard for me to let it go if we are going somewhere. If I want to change them, I am sure you can guess what my man says, "Dana, seriously, nobody cares!"

Many times I will respond with , "But I care!" Which begs the question, "Why do I care?" It's something I've thought about a lot.

I think that many of us feel like we are living our lives on some sort of imaginary stage, playing out our lives for the world to see and critique. And, boy, are we concerned about reading the fact, we often write them ourselves! But if I am so busy playing the part in my personal play, I certainly don't have time to critique your performance. And the same goes for everyone around us. We are not being judged nearly as often as we imagine. I really believe that. And compliments can sometimes be the good review that encourage a destructive way of thinking.

Now, I don't think that we should walk around unkempt, smelly, and mismatched, never complimenting each other. I just think that we need to evaluate the reason we do what we do and not care so darn much! It's pretty liberating taking your kids to a birthday party in costumes even though costumes weren't requested...especially when your daughter wants to wear the Red Ranger costume that is way too big on her, rolled up at the ankles and wrists, with the mask sitting atop her messy hair and she is still the cutest thing you've ever seen. It also feels good to have a group of women to your home for a friend's birthday party without having had the time for a shower or makeup and realize that they love you just the same.

So, how does this nobody cares business translate into how we live our lives? I am still going to slather my kids in Baby Magic (probably until they're 20...I'll have to resort to doing it in their sleep at some point, I'm sure) and I still love to do my daughter's hair and dress my kids in clothes I like; I will continue to compliment others and appreciate the compliments I receive. BUT I am also going to chill out and let my husband dress the kids sometimes, I will proudly walk into Albertsons with my son in his Wolverine costume, and I will occasionally rock the shirt that shows my love handles because I still really like the shirt. When I receive a compliment, I will not think that I have to continue looking or living a certain way for that person to approve of me. In short, I will joyfully, and often, exclaim within myself that nobody cares! Not nearly as much as I think they do.

I still maintain, however, that people DID care about those e-mails early in our marriage. They cared and they loved them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I have been a wife for 6 years and 1 1/2 months. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 4 years and 9 months. In that time, I have had hundreds of conversations with women regarding feelings of self-doubt and loathing, failure to measure up, depression, inadequacy, etc. I am extremely troubled by how pervasive these feelings and attitudes seem to be among women. I am troubled that they are deep-seeded in my heart as well.

The thought that keeps coming to my mind is, ENOUGH! Enough of the self-judging, enough of the anxiety to be perfect, enough already! And on the flip side of that, I AM ENOUGH. I am good enough.

Why do we compare ourselves - that person whose weaknesses we know intimately - to the mom at church or at our kid's school who seems to always have it together? You know, the mom who has 10 children but finds time to make some fancy-pants dessert, has children who are always presentable, never raises her voice and always seems to be smiling. I think we should all have a conversation with that woman. Instead of standing in awe from afar and hating ourselves a little more every time she calmly responds to a child having a meltdown whose wiping chocolate all over her neatly-pressed beige slacks, why don't we take the time to get to know her? Sure, she might turn out to really be that awesome, but I am willing to bet that there is something she struggles with that will help you to realize she is, in fact, quite normal; that you are much more similar to her than you ever could have imagined.

Two short stories:

#1: I know such a mom. I was uncomfortable around her all the time. I would see her each week with her four children at our library's story time. She was always on time and her kids sat and listened politely. And there I was with half the amount of children, always late and trying to corral my kids onto the darn mat to pay attention to the nice story time lady. I thought that my perfect-mom-friend must be silently shaking her head at me. One day I mentioned to her how embarrassed I was by this and she said simply, "Well, you should see my house. I left it a mess to get here." I had imagined every aspect of her life to be controlled and perfect. Human, after all. I can't tell you what a relief that was! We've been sincere friends ever since. I still think she rocks, but now I am not judging myself against her all the time...only every once in a while, and most of the time it's a good kind of comparison. (yes, I think there's such a thing and I want to talk about that more in the future)

#2: A few months ago a dear friend of mine was at my house and saw a pizza box on the counter. She let out a sigh of relief and said, "Oh good! I am so glad to see that you get pizza sometimes. I'm not the only one who doesn't make dinner every night." Seriously?! This friend has lived up the street from me for nearly four years and we have spent a great deal of time together. She's thought this whole time that I make dinner from scratch for my family every night? Psssshhh. Not a chance. It would be nice, but not a chance. It really made me think about the image I am portraying in an effort to look like I have it together.

It was just a few days ago that the push to start this blog really started weighing on me. I stood in my kitchen with two good friends, having an all-too-familiar conversation. "I always think, how does she keep her house so clean?" "Why do I struggle getting my two kids to church on time with the help of my husband when she is always on time with three kids and no husband to help?" I asked them, "WHY?! Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we compare our worst selves to another's best?"

I have had similar conversations many times over and we all seem to ask the same question as the conversation draws to a close - why do we compare ourselves like that? - but without any answer. I'm not saying this blog is going to be an answer. I am not a great writer or an expert in any field. I am just a very passionate sista who thinks we should transform the way we, as women, look at ourselves and at others. It's very likely that just my mom, sisters, and a few devoted friends will read this. But maybe, just maybe, a few more will join in and we will build one another and chip away at what I perceive to be a destructive way of thinking.