Thoughts…

I shared a guest post with you yesterday from MeLissa Hicks. I shared it because I can relate to it. Her sense of what was normal was different from everyone else’s perception of the term. I think we all have a different “normal.”

When I was younger I thought everybody had broken families; I had exactly two friends whose parents were still together when I was in high school and remain so to this day. I’ve seen my best friend’s parents dance in their living room to music that nobody else was listening to while their kids teased them about how “mushy” and “gross” they were. That is what is supposed to be normal, but to me it was strange and wonderful considering my parents (& most of my friends’ parents) were divorced & both remarried. My childhood normal was…tense…and you can bet I never saw any combination of my two sets of parents slow dancing in the living room like they actually loved each other. That sweet moment with my friend’s parents is one that has always stuck with me & I hope someday I’ll hear my kids complaining about how gross their dad and I are.

As tense as things were when I was a child, as I got older I began to notice and appreciate how close certain parts of my family are. I believe my mother’s side of the family in particular is how we got through a lot of heavy things. My granddaddy was there every single time my mom, his brothers, one of his grandchildren or anyone else he loved needed him. There was not a thing he owned that we couldn’t have also. My grandmother had the kindest soul & the sweetest spirit. She was also, sometimes unintentionally, the funniest person I knew. My mom is like the best parts of both of them. She is the strongest & most wonderful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and she raised my siblings and I to always love and care for each other no matter what. She has come literally halfway across the world to be with me when I needed her, and even when we don’t necessarily agree we respect & support each other. My family is very loving & supportive, so I was appalled to learn that not everyone is similarly blessed. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I suppose I always knew it, but I didn’t really let it sink in until I was an adult.

I have friends whose families disregard their very existence and won’t lift a finger to help them unless there is something in it for them. I don’t understand how families can be that way toward one another. I understand tough love, but what I’m talking about has nothing to do with love of any kind. Sadly, it’s more common than I’d like to believe and in this situation, I know my family is the odd one. I’ve had several people tell me they have never met another family like mine; so eager to help & lacking the usual squabbling & family drama that has come to be depressingly common in other families. We have our share of dysfunction, for sure, but my grandparents & great grandparents made sure our roots were so firmly planted that there isn’t anything in this world that could truly break us. I’m thankful for that.

Guest Post: How Did This End Up Happening?

Happy Thursday All!

Today I’m sharing a post with you written by my former high school English teacher. She needed an outlet and I just so happen to have a blog that is being treated rather negligibly at the moment. Mostly, however, I’m sharing this with you because I can identify with her thoughts on finding normalcy in a life that isn’t necessarily “normal.” I’ll post more on that later, but for now say hello to MeLissa Hicks.


 

   HOW DID THIS END UP HAPPENING?

My parents were every fatalistic statistician’s dream. My mom got married exactly two months after her 16th birthday, and I was born exactly seven months and four days later (you do the math). It was 1968, and I guess there were only two choices: go somewhere and hide until you could give the baby up for adoption or get married. I’ve heard they were counseled both ways. I have never asked my mom if she was tempted to go the other way, but I don’t think she was. The point is I sometimes feel as if I grew up with my mother, and I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. I don’t want you to think this is a sad story. It’s not; it’s a story of triumph through Lord knows what happens in a life.

I can’t remember a single time when my life was carefree. I had fun. There was childhood and play. I wasn’t deprived or physically abused, but I was not carefree. I have memories from a very young age, but many of them are times of turmoil. My father is an emotionally manipulative addict whose drug of choice has changed every ten years or so. I lived with that…that was my normal. This created a very co-dependent relationship between my parents that went on for twenty-five years before my mother finally escaped (which is another story altogether). Carefree was not in my vocabulary. My dad’s vices caused many issues that required me, at the age of seven, to grow up pretty fast if our lives had not already predisposed me to a propensity towards responsibility. That is the word: responsibility. My sister became my responsibility; my dad became my responsibility. All of this was because my mom had to go to school and then to work for a good long time. Looking back it seems like my father projected every serious event in our lives onto me. I realize now it was in order to manipulate the rest of the family, but at the time I was just overwhelmed by the hugeness of his personality and how much I loved my daddy. It’s funny how children love their parents no matter what when they are little. I wish all parents knew that and took that RESPONSIBILITY to heart. My dad didn’t. My life was good in many ways, but always responsible. I made good grades, I helped take care of my siblings, I got a job, and I did all the things that were expected of me. I was also a rotten, self-centered teenager in the process just like any other normal kid.

We were dirt poor in Georgia in the 1970’s and 80’s. Vintage was not cool and second hand clothes were not without consequences, but I survived. For some reason, I was tough, and after a year of bullying I found books. Then it didn’t matter anymore what anyone thought. I was in Turkey or England or some other exotic place doing other things that were totally beyond my reach. I was smart, and I liked school so my way should have been set. However, I became a statistic myself. I married right out of high school and had my first child at 19, five months after I married (math again).

Still I kept on keeping on. That marriage only lasted three years, and the first thing I did after I filed for divorce was register for college. Well, actually, I bought a truck first…then I registered for college. It took me five years, but I finished, and then went back to get not one, but two, advanced degrees. School had always been my happy place anyway, so I was suited to school and learning. A favorite teacher once wrote a recommendation for me, and I took a peak at it. She wrote that if one knew my family background they would be amazed at how far I had come. I realized that all the years I thought no one noticed the life I had, there were people who not only noticed, but cared deeply. Although I never saw it as amazing; I just saw it as living. Yet as I age, I see many others who grew up much like I did, and never overcame those statistics. So twenty years into a career I started five years after all my peers, I stop and ask myself, “How did this end up happening?” The road wasn’t smooth; it was curvy and twisted and sometimes torn slam up, but I just kept going and going until I got here. It’s been a pretty good journey.

My life is not perfect and it’s certainly not carefree, but it is well lived and I can be proud of that.


 

If you have a moment, leave her some thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

It’s Okay To Be Emotional…Until It Isn’t

I’m going to be honest: I have no idea if Albert Einstein actually said that. I just thought it was appropriate for my blog today.


Surely you’ve heard people say, “it’s okay to cry” just as often as you’ve heard people – probably the same people – chastise their children for doing just that. So, when is it okay to display negative emotions? Because from where I’m standing, it seems as if it’s only okay to show them when you’re in a therapy session or at a funeral. Otherwise, suck it up, Buttercup! There’s nothing to be upset about.
 Actually…there’s nothing for you to be upset about. That person you’re talking to may feel entirely different, or maybe they’re experiencing some internal battle you know nothing about, which they can’t tell you about for fear of being judged, belittled, or embarrassed. It’s kind of an asshole move to tell someone when it’s okay for them to express how they feel or dictate how they should do so.

Someone asked me today why my youngest child is so emotional, and have I “gotten to the root cause of it?” The question threw me off a little. I actually said, “I’m not sure what you mean…” even though I did know exactly what she meant. It took me by surprise and I guess my brain just needed (more than) a moment to process, which I didn’t get and so I ended up giving a blundering, awkward response.

The more I think about it, the more I wish I had answered differently. I keep replaying my response (& the subsequent tears) over and over again in my head and the more I do, the more frustrated with myself I become. Why did I react that way and why did I give such a stupid reply?

 

It was an innocent question asked from a place of concern, but I felt oddly (& irrationally) attacked by it. I’ve never thought of The Cuteness as being “emotional” so much as she’s just intuitive and so very receptive to the world around her. She has such a pure, sweet, sensitive soul that I think even the smallest delights and cruelties in life affect her in the most profound – and sometimes puzzling – ways. I was told last year she had a high level of anxiety. Given our circumstances last year, I’m not surprised by that in the slightest, but then I thought about it a little more…

 

It wasn’t long before it struck me that my child is only 8 years old (and only 7 years old when I was told she rated very high for anxiety). Let that sink in a minute. She is only eight.
The Cuteness has the most vibrant, innocent, tender soul of anybody I’ve ever met. She expresses joy over the smallest things and it takes very little to make her happy. All she really needs is a lot of hugs, a puppy and some good music, and she’s the happiest girl you’ll ever meet. I call her my sunshine, because she really, really is. She radiates it like magic.:) As generally happy as she is though, she’s the one that cries when she sees someone else crying, or a scene in a movie with someone hunting a deer, and especially when she sees a dead animal on the side of the road. She sheds quiet, melancholy tears every single time she hears the song “Burning House” on the radio…even as she’s singing along to it.

 

She has a mom who is overly-empathic & (I like to think) pretty intuitive myself, an authoritarian dad who is stern & rough (at least on the outside), and she lives in a world that forces children to grow up too quickly, to ‘know better’ too soon. She is a student in an educational system that is broken; too much is demanded of our kids (not to mention our teachers), much of which isn’t even developmentally appropriate. She tries so hard and she still struggles. On top of all that she’s supposed to somehow figure out how to appropriately navigate social situations, make friends, deal with bullies, which is another burden entirely when you consider that she’s being taught to defend herself at home & told not to at school. It would be overwhelming for anyone, but an 8 year old who already has a proclivity for being sensitive?

 

How could she NOT be emotional? How is an 8 year old equipped to handle all the millions of unique thoughts & incomprehensible feelings they have on a minute-to-minute basis? When you think of it this way, it sounds silly to even ask why one is ‘so emotional.’

 

I know there are tons of kids who come in and out of school, church, and everywhere else who have some much bigger issues they’re facing which cause a lot of baffling emotional and behavioral responses; what if they’re being neglected or abused? I get the need to ask questions, to find the root cause & I understand this is the sad reality of the world.

 

However, sometimes a kid – an adult, even – is just emotional because they’re designed that way & the world is often a brutal, unforgiving place…I don’t think it’s terribly strange to see a child react to that in a mournful sort of way. It’s tough to know “the right way” to respond in any given situation. Especially when you’re a ridiculously perceptive eight year old and you have a limited number of tools in your belt to deal with those perceptions. People have so many absurd expectations! Why does there have to be a cut & dry reason/answer for everything? Sometimes, it just is what it is.

 

Sorry, today was a ranty day I guess. If you read this, many thanks to you.:) If you would like to chip in your two cents, I would be happy to hear it in the comments below.❤

Wordy 30

It’s almost that time: my 30th birthday is just two days away.

I could say a lot about turning 30:

I could whine and complain and refuse to ever be older than 29, continuing to celebrate each subsequent birthday as “The [1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.] Anniversary of My 29th Birthday” but cute as it is, that’s not really my style. I’m SO EXCITED about turning 30! Maybe that makes me a weirdo, but I just think that the future is exciting. The fact that I’ve made it 30 years in this beautiful, amazing, horrible, awful, extraordinary life is exciting! I have fought for the privilege to be another year older & I feel blessed that God has allowed me this much time on Earth. I pray he gives me many, many more years, but I’ll be thankful for each one I get no matter how many (or few) they may be.

I also think that resentment of growing older is a bit incongruous. Nobody wants to die, but nobody wants to get older either; how’s that working out for you? I feel like grey hairs, crows feet, laugh lines, scars, and all most of the other things that come with growing older are a beautiful privilege, and they tell a unique, physical story about how we’ve lived. I do hope that when I’m 50 my story will say I’m 30 *wink wink* but still…even if it doesn’t I’ll be thankful for whatever story my body tells.

I could go on about how my health and fitness have been more important to me in the last 3 years than they have ever been, but that’s not really what I wanted to share today either. I’m sure that’s the story you’re dying to hear, but suck it up, buttercup. ;) I want to share with you 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 short years.

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years (In No Particular Order):

  1. Potty-training is the devil.
  2. You’re never “too old.” Wear what you want, style your hair how you want (purple and blue hair anyone??), and get excited over unicorns, rainbows, and glitter. Two words: Lisa. Frank. I am not ashamed.MTI0ODc2MDQ2MDg3NjA0MjM0
  3. Life is too short to waste time worrying about what other people think of you. To the extent of getting and keeping a good job and doing the things you need to do to take care of your responsibilities – yes, present yourself in a manner that people in positions of authority find pleasing (good hygiene, prioritizing, always being respectful, that sort of thing), but don’t change who you are at your core to please someone else. You want people in your life who love you for who you really are, not who they think you ought to be. Nerd out. Go on & share your love of T-Swift & YA novels with the world. You didn’t actually hate it when your three year old used to watch The Backyardigans? Go ahead and sing the theme song out loud. 99faefe255167765afeed34e19d0488f
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Yes, it’s a famous quote and you may have seen it so many times it makes you throw up in your mouth a little, but it’s beautiful and very, very true.
  5. You will never see me wearing matching socks.life-is-too-short
  6. It’s okay to go at your own pace. Sure, I got married at 18, had a baby, and didn’t get my license until I was 21 or start college until I was 22. I did things, as they say, “backwards.” Who died and made you The Keeper of Chronological Life Events? I turned out okay. If you did it the other way around, or if you’re unmarried at 30, don’t have kids, have a bunch of kids, don’t want kids, or still haven’t figured out what you want to be when you grow up – it’s okay! It’s not a competition.
  7. There is no one-size-fits-all “right time” to do anything. The right time is whenever you decide to do it.
  8. Getting carded is awesome.
  9. My high school playlist is on a loop…on the oldies station.
  10. It’s cool when people think you’re wise when really you’re just making it up as you go along just like everybody else.
  11. Jagermeister is disgusting.
  12. Jameson is even worse.
  13. Mixing them is not advised. 012624b3251ab1c8e7f934bc0c0b2484
  14. Don’t waste time trying to be trendy. Instead, strive to be a trendsetter. Mean-Girls-Meme-Fetch-05
  15. For the majority, no serious consequences will occur when your kid eats something that has touched the floor. It’s okay…relax.
  16. The best stories occur while your kids are on the toilet. I’m pretty sure my Facebook feed has been flooded with funny stories of things my children have done or said while on the toilet, in the bathroom, or having some relation to poop. 4013d2c3d7f8068ce2f291357b76447a
  17. There are more fun and creative ways to curse that your children can actually repeat and they have the added benefit of entertaining other people. POOP IN A BASKET! I don’t give a flying flock of frolicking catfish! “Fudgin’ touch me again and I’ll fudgin’ kill ya!” – Dean Winchester. However, sometimes it’s just nice to say the real thing. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve just been married to my F-bomb dropping husband too long, but either way, sometimes it just feels good not to censor yourself.
  18. When you become a mom, you talk about poop a lot.
  19. “What is that smell?” is not an altogether uncommon thought.
  20. “Put that in your juice box and suck it” is probably the best line I’ve ever taught my children.  I am not ashamed. (Yes, there is a story behind this.)
  21. I will likely never master the art of keeping things “short and sweet.” I’m sorry. Actually, no…no I’m not. Suck it up.
  22. What is heard cannot be unheard. What is seen, cannot be unseen. 6f220603_what-has-been-seen
  23. Money isn’t everything. We need it to survive, & it’s nice to have a little extra, but there’s always more to be made. You can’t make more time & do-overs don’t exist. Prioritize what’s important to you and spend your time & money on those things as much as possible.
  24. Everybody compromises. Sometimes your ideologies take a backseat to your immediate needs. It’s okay to barely get by as long as you do get by. It’s okay to just be ‘okay.’
  25. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue. It’s just how life works.
  26. It’s okay if you don’t fart rainbows and sunshine 100% of the time. You don’t always have to be positive. Good days and bad days are part of being human. Embrace them for what they are and just keep moving forward.
  27. You should never stop having weird conversations.
  28. Laundry is never-ending so there’s really no rush to fold it. As long as it gets washed and dried, I don’t really care where it goes after that.
  29. I will never be adult enough to know how to properly fold a fitted sheet. A ball in the closet is good enough. 1021cef94d717a7ade3dcc5ab1c7b713
  30. “You can never have too much butter” is still the best life lesson I’ve received. Thanks Grandma.

Bonus lesson: Coke > Pepsi. Thanks Granddaddy.

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Happy Birthday to me! I have no idea what I’ll be doing, but I really hope it includes Jensen Ackles James Dean (my husband, not the dead actor. Ew.)

My Eight Year Old Has Yoda-Wisdom

Happy Almost Christmas everybody! I hope you’re all ready for the holidays, snuggled up with warm socks by warm fireplaces eating Christmas cookies or whatever it is you do for the holidays. For those of you who are missing loved ones or just stressing in general, my heart goes out to you. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but a pair of warm socks really improved my outlook on life this morning…I urge you to try it if you’re feeling less-than-cheerful.:)

Anyway, this post was inspired by Progressive (and maybe a tiny bit by all the Star Wars fans). For real. My girls and I were watching TV together this morning and that silly, misogynist Progressive commercial came on. If you don’t know which one, I’ve linked it below:

http://ispot.tv/a/AYG6

I was so proud of my girls because both of them just rolled their eyes at it & laughed. “Where’s her husband? She doesn’t have to have a husband. Crazy man.” My girls are often such silly little creatures, but they are also super, extra special! It made me think of a conversation with a friend the other day in which it was suggested that girls learn to become co-dependent from the womb. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and decided it’s ultimately true.

In utero, we’re all dependent on our mother’s care to keep us alive. As babies, we depend on our parents for our every need. For boys, the older they get the more independent they’re taught to be. When they fall and scrape their knees they’re told to get up and walk it off. “Stop crying like a little girl.” (Which is another post entirely.)

It’s a little different for girls. We’re taught that we can be whatever we want to be, but somewhere along the way “whatever you want” turns into “someday you’ll meet a boy and you’ll want to get married and have a family…” and “someday when you’re married…” yada, yada, yada. We go from depending on our parents to depending on a man “to save us” from…I don’t know what…loneliness? Having to pay our own bills? I mean, really, I’m not sure why females automatically get handed the role of damsel in distress and boys must automatically assume the role of the provider. (Like that’s all either of us can be??) It’s pretty typical though. Little girls then spend their whole lives dreaming about their fairytale wedding day and then pitying themselves when it doesn’t happen in the timeframe they’ve allotted for themselves. Single at 30, anyone?

Because that’s what this whole life is about, right? Getting married. Having a family. We’re conditioned from a very young age to believe that our ultimate goals in life should consist of fairytale romances and a prince to whisk us off to his castle in the sky to make all the babies.

Some of These are great things and I’m not knocking them in any way. I myself enjoy my family and my marriage more than anything, and to be perfectly honest, I never wanted that when I was growing up. Getting married and having a family just wasn’t a goal for me. I thought it meant sacrificing everything else I wanted: college, a career, happiness in general. Now, I couldn’t picture anything better.

Having said that, I want to teach my girls that they can be anything they want to be and that includes single. Even at thirty. Being single doesn’t make you sad. It doesn’t make you pathetic and lonely. It doesn’t mean your life is wildly off track or that you’re destined to be a cat lady. By all means, if you want to be a cat lady, be a cat lady! I’m just saying that no matter what age and stage you may be at in your life, it can still be whatever you want it to be. You have the power to mold your life into whatever you want it to look like. Boys don’t have to be falling over themselves for your attention in order for you to feel validated and worthy. This goes for boys, too. Life is about much more than what the opposite sex thinks of you. Period.

e7accf4a634d77baaa166c418e376a24I want to encourage my kids to really stop and take inventory of their lives and their goals, to determine if what they have decided they want is really what they chose for themselves, or just an idea that someone else has established for them. If they don’t want to be married and have a ton of babies, awesome! If they really do want marriage, awesome! If they want to run away with the circus…well, I guess that has the potential to be awesome, too. As much as I want them all to be independent and free-thinking, I also want them to know that marriage doesn’t have to mean co-dependence either. It doesn’t mean that this other person is going to come in and create all your happiness for you, but it can be a joyful experience all the same. I asked The Cuteness (my 8 year old) where her happiness comes from and she said, “my heart.” I thought that was a pretty great answer.

We create our own happiness.

You might as well stop waiting for Prince Charming, let go of any expectations that other people have set for you and your life, and just start LIVING! Start enjoying your life for what it is, wherever you’re at in this moment. It’ll be hard at first if you’ve always operated under the impression that you can’t be alone, but the more you do it the more liberating and enjoyable it will be. Learn to be okay with yourself/your life and you’ll never need to worry about needing anyone else; they’ll just be a bonus.:)

Merry Christmas my lovelies!

From One Southern Girl To The Whole Internet

From one Southern girl to the whole internet:

A contraction is made when two individual words are put together where the apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter(s), right? So why do some of y’all have so much trouble with the spelling of the word “y’all?”

You all. What letters do you take out when you put those two words together? The “o” and the “u” in “you.”

You – ou + ‘ + all = y’all.

In case that didn’t make sense:

THE APOSTROPHE TAKES THE PLACE OF “OU” MAKING IT “Y’ALL,” not ya’ll.

The things Southern girls get fired up about…y’all will have to excuse me.

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Pink Potatoes & Hair Storage

Oh wait…did I get that wrong? Pink Hair & Potato Storage: that’s better.

I shared this post on my SpiffySnaps blog last year, but I recently rediscovered it and thought it appropriate to share here as well.

If you’ve ever struggled with discovering (or just being) who you are as opposed to who you’re expected to be, maybe this can be helpful to you. And if not, there’s a picture of me with some badass pink hair so (I think) that’s worth taking a millisecond look at.😉

10278367_mOh, if you read the post & wondered what the potato storage email said (I had to look it up, too, because I completely forgot) here’s some info on that: http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/dear-mary/best-location-potato-storage/

Happy Monday!

Dawn Smells Better On Husbands

  I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s sexy when her husband washes dishes. Or am I? My husband has sworn on countless occasions that he “does not do dishes” and so I am especially grateful when he does, but more than that I just think it’s hot!! 🔥

Don’t let me be alone in this! Comment and tell me what you think. Are you indifferent to your husband washing dishes or do you, like me, think it’s super hot? 

To, Too, Two, & Tutu

To:

  1. A location. I’m going to the store.
  2. Identifying a person or thing affected. You were such a jerk to her.
  3. To be closed or nearly closed. Please pull the door to. 

 

Too:

  1. Excessively. Dean Winchester drives too fast. Beth is way too obsessed with fictional characters.
  2. Also. I like Supernatural too. I like Supernatural also. (The number one thing you can say to instantly make a friend out of me. The number two thing is liking this post.)

 

Two:

  1. Number. Quantity. My favorite shows all center around two brothers…I’m sensing a theme here. 

 

Tutu:

  1. Has nothing to do with this post, but here is my Saint Bernard that I, regretfully, did not name Nana.

 

I’m A Jerk

I’m that jerk that posts about grammar on Facebook. I know most people hate that, but I really don’t care…especially if you learn something from it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 11.29.02 AM

People teach me things all the time.

I know nothing about mechanics of any sort. Science is cool & I can comprehend most of what I read/hear about it, but I couldn’t satisfactorily explain a chemical reaction to you without first googling how to explain it. I’m terrible at math. Like…get-out-a-calculator-to-figure-out-what-your-change-is terrible at math. Sure, I don’t actually need the calculator for basic math, but I feel so much more confident with one…kind of like how you don’t need a blanket huge enough to be tucked under your feet and pulled all the way up to your chin, but you just feel safer when you have it. I can’t spray paint extraordinary space-scapes in six minutes on the sidewalks of New York and sell them for hundreds of dollars. scan4I can draw a stick figure and mushrooms, take a decent photograph, and scrapbook…that’s about where we draw the line on my artistic ability. I can’t make pretty pancakes or do amazing things with makeup.

There are countless people who are better than I am at a million different things.

Grammar is my shit though.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 11.28.04 AM

I’m not saying I’m the best at it or that I never make mistakes. This blog is proof that I make plenty of mistakes, especially if you go back a few years. (You’ll be happy to know that I have since learned the appropriate spelling is “monkeys.”) <—I feel like I was high when I wrote that, but I’ve never been high a day in my life so I can only imagine the feeling.

Anyway, I don’t entirely suck at grammar and that’s the reason I still have a blog, and the reason I’m a jerk on Facebook. If you like Facebook Jerks (lol…no pun intended) or feel like we’re grammar soul-mates or something, then feel free to follow my blog where I will now be sharing all of my grammar-jerkiness.