Friday, September 2, 2016

Just Keep Swimming

In January of 2015 I wrote a blog post about choosing to be happy. I made the conscious choice to attempt to choose positivity and happiness over falling into a pit of despair and negativity. Don't get me wrong, I stand at the edge of that pit and think about diving in head first and grabbing a few candy bars for good measure.  However 95% (nobody's perfect) of the time I am able to back away from the cliff, push the reset button and push forward.

I have been in that pondering mood again. Why? How? That is what I ask myself. How and why have I been able to maintain my attempt for the past 20 months.  When I reflected and came to certain realizations, I felt I needed to share.

Lets start with how. Unfortunately we are bombarded by so much negativity and hate that I think we lose sight of the good. There is good though! It really is all around us, we just have to be open to seeing it and receiving it.  For me this has come in the form of people. I feel the need to point this out, because I think as a whole we don't realize how our actions and words affect others. I don't mean in a bad way. I mean in a GOOD way.  A simple compliment, thank you, hug, text, call, may completely change the course of a persons day and outlook on life.  This has made a tremendous difference for me in the past year and a half. In the past three weeks alone, I had one friend mention me and another person in a post. Essentially saying that because she had received encouragement, she was going to give something a shot, that she was hesitant to do, because others believed in her and let her know! I cannot tell you, how it made me feel, that something that seemed so small on my part, made a drastic difference to someone else. I had another friend out of the blue compliment my photography skills and the way I raise my kids (at the time I felt I was sucking at both).  I have had champions in the past year and they do not realize the impact their actions have made on me and my life. Making my first friend in Texas, was life changing. she had no idea how much that saved me. We connected instantly, she feels like a sister to me now. I can talk to her when I'm sad/mad/happy. She will not BS me, she is a straight shooter all the way and I love her for it. Our kids play, we hang out together as a family. That sense of belonging changed me.  My neighbor who has become one my best friends. She ALWAYS has my back. If one of the girls is sick, she picks the other up from school, the water heater breaks down, her husband (also a good friend) is there helping. Our kids play. If she knows I'm struggling, she checks in. She cares and she lets that be known. It has literally changed and saved me more times than I can count.  I have a friend that I have known since the fourth grade. One of the positives of Facebook is that we reconnected after years. We text almost every single day. Sometimes it a funny meme, other times serious conversations. We have this insane connection that cannot be put into words. Her texts come through at the times I need them the most and she could have no clue. Having that relationship has changed me for the better. Then I have a husband that after 19 years, I am pretty sure we share a brain. He knows what I am thinking before I even say it. He also knows just the right time to say either, " You are doing a fantastic job and I'm proud of you" or " the cranky pants have been on long enough, time for a wardrobe change"! I love him all the more for it.  For me these are just a very few examples of how someone else's kindness, insight, text or call has made a direct impact on my mission of choosing to be happy. Choosing to be positive, choosing to go out and kick the world's ass, instead of it kicking mine.
That brings me to the "why" portion. Why do I choose to continue my mission? I know some people  think I am insane. That choosing to believe sunshine, happiness, faith, hope and little bit of pixie dust can make a difference, is annoying and delusional. I assure you. I am not crazy.  So why? Why am I seemingly so nauseatingly positive? Even in situations that seem to not have one ounce of any good?? Three words. Elizabeth. Abigail. Sydney.  I want them to ALWAYS search for the good, the happiness, the kind, the helpers.  Yes, the world is full of hate, evil, and negativity but it doesn't have to win. The battle against it has to start somewhere. So I am starting it at the most logical place for me, home.
If I do nothing else right in this life, I hope this is the ONE thing I get right. I want them to face adversity with the courage to know they can over come. I want them to throw love at the haters. I want them to be able to LAUGH, even when the situation seems dire. That is my wish, that is my goal. While I focus on that here. I want to share that it so easily spread. Make that call, send the text, give someone a hug or an unexpected compliment. Who knows, we just might change the world!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Body Shaming: Something Needs To Change.

This week Elizabeth came home and recounted a lunch time conversation that she had at school. It was so preposterous that I can't shake it. She told me that 2 girls that she sat next to during lunch told her, that if she continued to eat a turkey/salami/cheese sandwich, that also had mayo (gasp) she was going to get fat.  Yes, folks she was told at seven by other seven years olds, that eating her sandwich daily was going to make her FAT.  They recommended to her that she eat salad and chicken, because that doesn't make you fat. Seriously? Is this what it is coming to? Body shaming starts in the first grade. I was shocked and saddened.

This is something that I have personally struggled with as long as I can remember.  I remember vividly comparing myself to the models on Seventeen magazine. I did the thigh master religiously. I snuck diet pills. I look back at those pictures of myself now, and think "what in the hell was wrong with you"?? "You were not fat, you had a perfectly normal body, dare I say beautiful"?  Being 5'8 made me not petite and therefore in my eyes fat. Oh how stupid I was...

It ( body image) was at the top of my list of things I wanted to be different for my girls.  So much so, we have NEVER EVER uttered the word fat in front of the girls. Even as I continue to struggle with my own personal body image issues, I never speak about my self-conscious thoughts in front of them. They listen to EVERYTHING, they hear EVERYTHING. Instead we talk about being healthy. We discuss that we need to try new foods, fruits and vegetables included. We do have the fun treats, but we do so in moderation, because too much of anything is not good for you. We talk about the need for exercise to keep you HEALTHY. That is the word I try to use, healthy. Not fat. Not skinny. Not strong. Not weak. Healthy.  Our goal is to make good choices and keep our mind and body healthy.

I am lucky that I am raising self confident girls that trust me, themselves and communicate well. First, she recognized that she was not going to get fat and promptly told the other girls, eating her sandwich was not going to make her fat. Second, she came home and openly spoke to me and asked questions. I am lucky, but it may not be like that for every little girl. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with seven year old girls being afraid that eating their lunch will make them fat and I for one am not okay with that.

What is the answer? I don't know and I am ticked! I think communication and raising self confident little girls is key.  Teaching them beauty comes in all shapes and sizes is a must. Making good choices is a must. Realizing their own self worth is a MUST. Making healthy choices is key. Building each other up instead of tearing each other down is a MUST.

This is a conversation I wish we didn't have to have but we do. Maybe that is where we start. A open, honest conversation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Matters Most

Last night I had one of those wake up calls as a parent that you really don't want to get but maybe need. It had been one of those days that started at 2am with a kid puking (awesome way to start the day)! So I had the younger girls home with me all day. I decided to take advantage of being housebound and cleaned out several closets. The girls were either best friends or sworn enemies, mostly the latter of the two. Needless to say there was a lot of yelling, whining and refereeing throughout the day. Matters did not improve when the oldest came home, it just got louder!
Everyone has these days during the week. Rush rush rush, clean, cook, moderate, chauffeur. It is complete chaos. Some days are easier than others. Some days tempers and irritability are running at all time highs.
After dinner, things actually begin to settle somewhat, still extremely loud and rambunctious but controlled. I was washing the dishes, Ebeth and Abbie were chasing each other around the living room and Sydney was having her treat at the table. All of a sudden I heard a very strange sound coming from Sydney. She was clearly choking but at this point still getting air. I ran over to her,  she was panicked and bright red. I pounded her back between the shoulder blades first, then no sound was coming from her. She was trying to inhale and couldn't So I am quickly trying to remove her from the chair and she is fighting me because she is terrified and trying fix this herself. I knew I was going to have to do the Heimlich on her and tried to quickly let her know mommy is trying to help. Attempting to do the Heimlich on a terrified 3 year old who cannot breathe correctly is like wrestling an extremely pissed off bear. At this point Ebeth has realized something is really wrong, I can hear her say we should call 911, but I don't have time to explain we don't have time. Nothing happened after the first push, I tried to crack her on the the back again, still nothing. I am one of those people who is good in a crisis, I can remain calm during and stay focused and then afterwards, have my little meltdown. When she still couldn't breathe after the first push and pound on the back, my brain went into complete overdrive. First thought, how long do I have? Answer, not long. Second thought. What if I can't do this? Answer, not an option. Keep trying. The second time I pushed she coughed then gagged then screamed louder than all get out and I have never in my life been happier to hear that sound. This whole episode took probably less than one minute and yet it felt as if time was standing still.
After I made sure she was ok and the crying stopped we all went to sit together on the couch. This is when I started recapping the day and previous days in my mind. How many times did I snap at her that day? How many times in the last few days or weeks have I been asked to play a game, have a  tea party, cuddle on the couch, color? And how many times was my response, I can't right now. I was either cleaning or on the phone or doing dishes or laundry or cooking.
Yes, all of the aforementioned items must be done but they are not as important as we make them out to be in our heads. Does it really matter, if the house is vacuumed? or a dish is sitting in the sink? Or laundry is sitting in a basket? No it doesn't! The answer is so plain and simple nothing is more important than your family and your kids.
In this day and age we hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations because of things like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Life is not picture perfect. It is messy, it is chaotic it is full of ups and downs. That is why we have family and friends to help us get through. They don't care if you baked the perfect cookie or if your house is spotless! I am very guilty of falling into all of those traps. So maybe I needed that slap in the face. Now is the time for that cuddle and the tea party because in a blink of an eye, this stage will be over. I don't want to be doing the dishes when that happens..