Friday, December 17, 2010

What I Want(ed) for Christmas

Sometimes as I go through life, I look around the world... I look at the people around me, and all I can see is what I WANT.

I want Drew's smile.
I want Sharon's imperviousness to criticism.
I want Amy's ability to collect friends.
I want Natalie's faith.
I want Lisa's patience.
I want Ryan's kindness.
I want Stacey's eloquence.
I want the body of nearly every Hollywood socialite gracing the checkstand magazines.
I want to write like That One Girl I Read But Whose Name I Don't Know.
I want Lucy's bravery.
I want John's popularity.
I want Dawn's strength.
I want Rachel's lack-of-caring-what-people-think-of-her.
I want a better natural dictionary in my head so I don't have to make up really long hyphenated words to describe what I'm thinking.
I want to sing like my sister.

I want, I want, I want.

I'm not sure that there is always negativity associated with seeing qualities in other people that you want to emulate.  I think seeing those things can push us to grow better character within ourselves.

But as I was watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last night...  I heard Aslan say to Lucy...  indeed, to me...  "You undervalue yourself."  Actually... that wasn't the exact quote... I KNEW I should have texted it to myself so I wouldn't forget.  But that was the gist.  And it made me realize that when I look at the people around me... and as I deeply long to be like Whoever...  I undervalue who I was meant to be.  As I strive to be the people I admire, I stop being the person THEY admire, and the person I was meant to be.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adventures with Daddy.

Apparently the story goes like this...

Casey wanted to make a cup of hot apple cider.  So she filled a cup with water and put it in the microwave to heat.  After turning it on, it caught on fire.  She ran upstairs, yelling "DAD DAD DAD!  THE MICROWAVE IS ON FIRE!!!!!"

He jumped downstairs, opened it up, blew out the remaining sparks... and then explained carefully to ALLLL the children that we don't put METAL CUPS in the microwave as they will self-combust.

"Oh."  Casey said.  "I thought that was plastic."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Get Your Mitts Off My Boat!

I've been reflecting a lot recently on the nature of change and how we react to it.  There are a number of different situations in my life... some that I'm closely connected to, others that I'm simply aware of and watching in spectator-fashion... that involve change.  It's been very interesting to observe how people react when changes happen.  Overwhelmingly, there seems to be an initial response of panic.

Most of us, sometime in our lives, have been in a small boat on the water...  a canoe, a raft, a rowboat.  There is always that initial physical reaction when the boat gets rocked.  Maybe another boat has bumped into yours, maybe someone in your boat has suddenly stood or leaned out to grab a passing stick, maybe you've found yourself being attacked by the Loch Ness Monster (ok, maybe that was just me).  But without even thinking about it, your entire body tenses, your arms jump out to hold on to the side, and you automatically lean to whichever side will stop the loss of equilibrium.  Your mind hasn't had time yet to catch up with what is happening and needs to be done. But your body immediately knows "Something is different and it needs to stop NOW."

I find it is the same with change.  It doesn't even matter if the change is self-directed or if it's something inflicted on you by outside influence.  Until your mind sorts it all out, there is panic and confusion.  Nothing is what your mind expected it to be.  We order ourselves based on routines, based on the expectations of certain things staying the same.  When those things change, sometimes the only thought we have is "Things are not right" and I think it scares us.

We like to think that we are in control.  We know that there are millions of things out there that we have no say in.  We don't get to dictate them, and so we order our lives and our responses to those things in such a way that we feel like we are in charge.  Change breaks that sense of control and reminds us that we really don't get to call all the shots.

But, there comes a moment, when you're in that boat, that your mind catches up to your physical panic.  It takes in all the information, analyzes it, and you relax when you realize that the rocking was for the good.  Maybe it brought you closer to shore, maybe it brought you alongside a friend's boat for laughter and camaraderie, or maybe it was simply to avoid an oncoming collision.  Despite your trepidation, things are better now than they were before and you can once again order your world and feel like you are in charge.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Turkey Day.

Open your newspaper.  Go on...  War, poverty, crime, politics.  Ok, a little bit of quarterbacks and comics, too.  Even look inside our own lives and sometimes it feels all you find is frustration, stress, and burdens that seem too heavy to bear.  In the midst of all that, there's something to like about a holiday whose entire purpose has become to force us to reflect on what good there is in our lives.  Instead of focusing on the negative, we get this day to look deeply into ourselves and find what it is we have that makes it worth getting up in the morning.

Family.  Love.  Food to eat and a place to live.  Friends with which to share our joys and hardships.  A job to work.  Your morning cup of coffee.  That moment of quiet after the children have gone to bed.  The first bite of chocolate.  The pink that tinges a morning sky.  Health.  A whispered "I love you, Mommy."

There are no "yeah, but"s on Thanksgiving.  We don't get to find our blessings and then explain them away, focusing on what's NOT okay.  No, today is about the good.  We take the time to find it.  We get to wrap ourselves up in it, revel in it, wear the good as a badge of honor.    On this day, we don't even have to apologize for the good.  On this day, embracing the good and ignoring the bad doesn't make you a braggart... it makes you Thanksgivingified.

When you sift through the hard stuff, what do you find?

This year, I find myself especially thankful for friendship...  new friendships, old friendships.  I'm thankful for forgiveness.  I'm thankful for understanding.  I'm deeply thankful for trust.  I'm thankful for friendship in the ordinary, and friendship in places I never expected.  I'm thankful for those who accept me for who I am, and love me anyway... I'm thankful for compassion, laughter, and words of kindness.

And if you're reading this, I'm probably thankful for you.

Tomorrow, when I get up... and it's no longer Thanksgiving...  when the turkey has been eaten, the last bit of pumpkin pie consumed...  there will still be hard things.  But there will also still be good, and I think the good will always outlast the hard.  I will still be very blessed... going to sleep with a smile on my lips, and waking up with a song in my heart.

*kinda feel like I should cue the Full House music right about now*

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Personal Challenge

"Be the actor of your own life and not the spectator of mine."  

That's perhaps worded more strongly than I would write the sentiment... but maybe it's the force of the statement that made me sit up and wince.  Have you ever been guilty of this?  I know I have.  What is it that makes us get so focused on what the people around us are doing, and completely neglect to give the same attention to our own actions?

"Did you see what Jessica wore to the party on Friday??"  "Have you heard what Kevin said to Terri?"  "Can you believe the way Erin was throwing herself at Rick?"  "Dear Jesus... please forgive Lori for her drinking problem."

On the one hand, I'm not sure what it is that makes us think that we are so perfect that we could survive the same scrutiny from those around us.  But on the other, if we gave the same attention to our own actions, devoted the same energy that we do to criticizing others' faults to minimizing our own, concentrated on making our own lives better, rather than ripping others' apart... how much richer would our lives be?

I challenge myself to this in the coming week...  every time I'm tempted to criticize someone else for the choices they've made or the actions they're taking, I will instead look to myself and find something personal to devote that energy to.

We'll just see what ends up happier...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sweet Potatoes

Joel:  I cannot find sweet potatoes anywhere.

Me:  What do you mean?  They should be RIGHT THERE by the potatoes.  Are you looking at 7-11?

Joel:  No!  I've looked at Fred Meyer and QFC... I swear they aren't there.

Me:  I think you're on crack.

Joel:  Yes.  Yes, I said 'I can't find any sweet potatoes... I think I'll go get some crack instead.'


Thursday, November 11, 2010

And it begins!

You'll have to forgive me, but I'm a little rusty at this.  I've not kept a blog for nearly three years, and I'm afraid that I might have forgotten how to do it.

In Which We Start Anew
I feel like I should introduce myself, even though most of you reading this right now already know me.  But you never know - three years down the road when this blog is famous for its stellar wit (hey, it could happen!), someone might say "Gee, I wonder what she wrote in her first entry!" - and here it will be!

My name is Joanne, although I'm not sure I know anyone who actually calls me that.  Jo, Joey, Jojo, Butthead (little sisters are the best)... sometimes when some stranger calls me "Joanne," I look around in search of who they're talking to before I realize it's me!

I'm 34 (in 2010), but tell my kids I'm 25.  Unfortunately, they've now figured out how to subtract, and have deduced that, if they're 10 years old, I am unlikely to be the age I tell them.  But, they usually let me have my illusions, anyway.

I've been married for 14 years to my high school sweetheart, Joel.  Go ahead... "Awwww!!"  He's a very good and funny man, and I'm a lucky girl.  He's beyond smart and works for Microsoft.  Please don't ask me what he does.  I don't know.  It's not that I don't care.  It's just so far over my head and changes so often that by the time I've figured out what he's doing, he's been promoted or transferred to something else, and I have to start all over.

We have three daughters, of whom you will likely hear a great deal.  McKenzie and Casey are 10 year old identical twins, with Alicia following 16 months younger at 9.

McKenzie is a real interesting little thing.  Born eight weeks early, she had the hardest start as a baby, on a ventilator at birth, followed by being on oxygen until she was three months old.  Physically, I consider this the explanation for why she is the way she is.  But, I'm not sure I would change the way she is, either.  Joel and I can often be caught saying, "McKenzie is... special."  Huge attention span issues, no concept of how to control her emotions...  but mostly, she's simply a square peg in a world of round holes.  She just doesn't think in the same way that other people do, but she's always challenging me to think outside the box.

Like the other day, she said "Mom, you know the story of Adam and Eve... how Eve ate a bite of the apple and then Adam ate a bite of the apple...  What happened to the rest of the apple?"  What, indeed! I've heard the story of Eden since I was a kid, and I'm not sure I've ever considered the fate of that half-eaten fruit.  But McKenzie has.

Her twin, Casey, is a really sweet girl, a puppy lover through and through.  Very tall for her age, people sometimes mistake her for being much older than the child she still is.  Puberty has found her a bit early, and she is often in the middle of some mega-hormonal mood swing, wailing "I don't know why I'm crying!!!!"  Good times.  She's a good girl, typically kind and thoughtful.  Personality-wise, we often clash in mother-daughter power struggles.

Today, after the fourth nasty remark in a row, I asked in exasperation, "Casey, can't you be nice to your sister for FIVE MINUTES??"

"But you weren't always nice to YOUR sisters when you were little!  Don't you want me to do what you do??"

"No, I don't want you to do what I do!  I want you to do what I tell you to do!"  I should note now that if you are looking for a blog with advice on how to win Mother of the Year, you should probably keep looking.

Finally, we have my youngest daughter, Alicia.  Quiet to those who don't know her, she is easily the most responsible of my kids.  I fear that this sometimes makes me rely on her more than I should.  She's a hard worker when motivated and loves to help out.  Where her sisters are inadvertently funny, Alicia is deliberately funny.  She has incredible comedic timing for a kid of her age, and she is always making me laugh with the snarky comments that will come out of her mouth.

So there we go!  I have much more I want to say, but this is so long already that I think we will save it for the next post.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
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