Sometimes what I really want to scream out loud is…
Click through my slide show for my spin on this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday!
Enjoy the final set of sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens.
He cursed the traffic as he stepped on the gas and swerved left into the gas station. Another hectic morning awaited him at the plant, and he was already running late due to the baby having been up most of the night. His wife had nudged him awake every time the baby cried with no consideration to the fact that he had to go to work in the morning. Of course, he was too exhausted to make it to the gym…third time this week!
The lady behind him honked her horn yet again as though willing the cars lined up before her to magically disappear. Don’t people realize the sound of a horn doesn’t encourage someone to move out of your way? It’s not really what it was designed for, yet commuters seem to use it for solely that purpose. It’s about as effective as yelling at the drivers around you to “Move your ass!” or “Step on it!” How many responses do you think drivers have gotten when they angrily spit out the question, “Where did you get your driver’s license, a Cracker Jack box?”
Shaking his head he headed into the convenience store to pay since it seemed the option to pay at the pump wasn’t an option for him this morning. It was definitely going to be one of those days. Even the sound of the door jingling as he entered added to the quick escalation of his sour mood. Aren’t those annoying bells intended to hang on a cat not a door?
Heads turned and although people made eye contact with him, not one of them smiled, as though they couldn’t really see him. Cursing under his breath at the sight of the long line to the register, he took his place and sighed. Was he the only one in a hurry to get somewhere today? And, what was wrong with these miserable people? This was turning out to be the kind of morning he wished he hadn’t gotten out of bed for.
Consumed with anger and impatience, he looked around the store as he waited. Looking up at the front counter, he caught a glimpse in the mirror. Wondering how effective those mirrors were for catching shoplifters, he studied the back of a man’s head who was quite clearly balding. He thought, “Hmmm, it could always be worse I guess. I could be that guy with that large, embarrassing bald spot on the back of my head. Glad that’s not me.”
Shifting in line as forward progress seemed to move at a snail’s pace, his eyes travelled back to the mirror and he suddenly gasped. He slowly turned around to find another mirror set up in the back of the store which could only mean one thing. His day had just gotten worse. That balding man in the mirror wasn’t some random guy. It was him!
As he looked at the people around him, he took in the woman dressed in a business suit digging in a diaper bag for her wallet while trying to balance her cup of coffee. A young boy with a sleepy look couldn’t stop yawning and he remembered a co-worker mentioning it was college finals week. The clerk behind the counter looked frazzled as she apologized profusely for the computer system being slow this morning.
In that moment, he suddenly realized that seeing his reflection was more eye opening than he thought. Obviously, he had a hair loss issue, but that wasn’t his only problem. Why was he complaining about getting up with his own child at night or feeling sorry for himself for not being able to get to the gym? His wife was just as tired as he was and it had been months since she had been able to do anything for herself.
And, normally he was one of the people honking and yelling at other drivers for not moving fast enough for him. He was the one encountering people throughout his day, yet never really seeing them, so self absorbed in his own misery. It took his own reflection in the line at the gas station to show him who he really was, and as shocked as he was that he was balding it was definitely something he needed to see.
It’s never “us” until we see a reflection of ourselves. Whether, it’s about how much weight we’ve gained, how we’ve let ourselves go, our attitude toward others, and even our parenting skills, we are quick to judge others not truly seeing our own reflection in what we are criticizing.
Have you ever had a moment when you were surprised by an unexpected revelation of yourself?
Take a look at your reflection. Really look at it.
After you’ve taken in the physical, look a little deeper.
Now, be honest with yourself.
I watch them from the sidelines as they stand side by side on the edge of the field. Every so often they turn and high five each other, throw an arm over a teammate/friend’s shoulder. With the short attention span of little boys, a couple of them roughhouse with those standing closest to them until the coach reminds them to focus on the game. In these instances, I catch glimpses of their faces and can’t help but wonder if I’m catching a glimpse of their future as well.
My eyes methodically travel down the line, and come to rest on each jersey, seeing more than just their number. These boys already exhibit certain characteristics that will become prominent as they grow into men.
Number 17 stands still, eyes directed at the field and his fellow teammates in action. He watches each play intently, tuning out the more restless boys on either side of him. Will he grow to be the kind of man who is focused and driven, eyes on the prize at all times? Will this cause him to neglect those he loves most, not understanding they need his love and attention more than his paycheck?
Number 23 is just as focused on the game, but expresses his enthusiasm not only for each pass completed. He also jumps in the air, his little cleats stomping the grass as he yells “Good job guys!” and “That’s the way we do it!” Will he be that guy who always encourages and supports those around him? Will he be the go to guy when someone needs a little push to overcome life’s obstacles or will he be the man who hides his true emotions behind a facade of smiles and cheers, always giving others, never sharing of himself?
Number 4 is more focused on the blades of grass at his feet as he pulls one, twirls it in his hands as though he’s seeing it for the first time, oblivious to the activity surrounding him. Will he grow up to be a man who takes pleasure in the small things in life? Will he appreciate all the parts that make a whole or will he get so caught up in the little things, that he misses the big picture?
Number 32 can’t stand still as he shifts his feet this way and that way. He alternates between watching the game and watching his teammates goofing around beside him. Will he spend his adult days always on the sidelines, watching but never truly participating? Or, will he be the type of man who tunes in to everyone around him, always fully present for each?
Whatever these little boys turn out to be as they grow into the men in our lives, our daughter’s lives, and our communities, I hope they take the lessons they are learning today and hold them close to their hearts.
The field may be a tough place at times, full of surprises, wrought with confusion, and a place of decisions both instant and well thought out, but isn’t that life? I hope these boys take their commitment to their friends and teammates today and turn it into commitment to their significant others and family in the future. I hope they apply the same drive and determination they display today to the things they are truly passionate about as they make their way through life. I pray they hold on to the pleasure they currently take in the small things and truly take the time out to embrace the little things that will tend to be harder to see as they get older. I wish for their future self to be the guy who encourages others from the sidelines when necessary, but also the guy who knows when to jump in and make things happen. More than anything, I hope they will be ever present in each moment life presents for themselves as well as those around them.
We, as a whole, spend so much time complaining about our youth today and the mistakes they make. We try to find a way to mold them into what we think they should be or what society needs them to be when they are all grown up. And yet, our children already hold admirable characteristics that they are applying on a daily basis, in sports, in the classroom, at home. They are exhibiting admirable qualities every time they help someone up, cheer someone on, show up for practice, commit to an entire season, and hang on to a belief that won’t let them quit. It is our job, as parents, teachers, coaches, to support and guide them from the sidelines, help them embrace the great qualities they already display today, because one day the little boys standing on the sidelines will take the field.
I am honored to have my piece, “I slept with him for years for fear of being alone” featured on the Erma Bombeck website today.
Please check it out and share away!
Hope your weekend is filled with love and laughter wherever you may be!
Through the years, the typical mom outfit has morphed from the days June Cleaver stood in her immaculate home in high heels and dress topped with a kitchen apron and strand of pearls. Moms in the nineties embraced a high waisted jean (I’m talking above the belly button) which made every woman wearing them appear to have a flatter, longer butt than they really had. Of course, these “mom jeans” as they came to be known were always paired with a top that was tucked in to the pants. I’ll leave you with that visual as we reflect on what moms of recent years are wearing…yoga pants. Yoga pants designed for the practice of yoga or any activity requiring a lot of movement such as bending and stretching has become a mom favorite.
Katia of I Am The Milk invited fellow bloggers to “Imagine an army of moms in yoga pants, sweats and buns invading the red carpet and responding to a slightly confused “Who are you wearing?” Wanna be that mom? We bring you a different kind of red carpet vision. A #365 Feminist Selfie red carpet. Stay, admire the parade of outfits you’re about to see and share your own through our linkup. The linkup is live until Sunday evening. You can also tweet about us with the hashtag #WhoAreYouWearingMom and invite your friends to join.”
Her invitation immediately took me back approximately five years when our family relocated to the island of Puerto Rico and particularly to the first week of school for my two kiddos. We had been camping out in our home for a couple of weeks as we faced delay after delay on the arrival of our home goods. The first few nights of air mattresses, no television, and either sandwiches or eating out were a welcome adventure, but like any camping trip you eventually long for the commodities of your normal life…especially the feeling of being surrounded by your own things.
I arrived at school, two kids in tow, wearing running shoes, cutoff shorts, and my Beatles t-shirt as I embraced the adventure that was my life. Truth be told, home goods or no goods, this had become my “mom outfit.” Being a stay at home mom on a tropical climate simply meant I exchanged my flip flops for running shoes on days I expected to be productive. Apparently, I was alone on this fashion choice.
As I approached the school, I felt like I had been transported onto the Latin red carpet of all red carpets! Woman after woman arrived with kids in tow, dressed in high heels, stunning outfit, perfectly applied makeup, hair done impeccably, and gracefully strutted in all their glory from car to front door of the school.
As the days progressed, much to my dismay I learned contrary to the ideas I had conjured up about these women and their demanding, high powered day jobs, they were stay at home moms just like me…well not exactly like me. If their afternoon wardrobe was any indication, they either spent their entire day shopping for the next outfit or in their massive walk in closets planning that afternoon’s wardrobe change.
Alas, while I admired their enthusiasm for fashion and whatever they were putting in their morning coffee to get that all accomplished before 8am, I continued to look much like I do in this photo.
In writing this post, I realized two things:
1. My daily wardrobe is apparently not a kodak moment, EVER, as it was extremely difficult to find a photo of me in it.
2. I guess it’s not only my mom outfit, but my travel outfit too since this pic was taken on a trip to Washington, DC.
Take that Joan Rivers!
When did “it’s complicated” become a status alongside married, single, divorced, widowed? I confess to having rolled my eyes a time or two or even chuckled when seeing this status on a few social media walls, shaking my head and thinking, “really?” However, relationships really can be complicated. I’m not sure it’s worthy of a status but when two human beings come together and try to make a go of it, it’s never quite that simple.
Let me be clear and point out here that I’m referring to REAL relationships,
I’m referring to what I like to call a term you may have heard before…A COUPLE.
All couples have a once upon a time, a story of how they met, their beginning. The thing is when we are in a relationship, we are not alone. We are part of a whole. Yet, we each come with our own individual once upon a time. Both parties did not begin this race called life at the same START line, even if we hope to end at the same FINISH line together.
Each party has their own unique set of experiences that has shaped them gradually into the person they are today. Each half of the couple had a different and unique upbringing that has contributed not only to the adult they’ve become but also how they interact with others. This is never more evident than when an individual becomes a plus one. It is then that all the years of molding and kneading, tweaking and shaping comes to light because it is then that love for someone other than themselves comes into play. This is where it gets complicated folks.
I believe couples get in trouble when we forget that the person we fell in love with had a story all their own before we came into the picture. Instead, we get frustrated when they don’t behave a certain way. After all, we, personally, would never do things that way or handle a certain situation that way. Why should they?
We don’t understand why our other half is less affectionate than we would like, and I don’t mean in the bedroom necessarily. We each have our own way of showing affection, and holding someone else (especially someone we claim to love) to our own set of standards isn’t fair and certainly isn’t realistic. Maybe the other person was raised in a family where hugs and kisses weren’t the norm. That is sad and shocking to those of us who were smothered with physical affection as kids, but it doesn’t need to be and it certainly doesn’t make that person love any less…just love differently.
There is no formula, no rule, no instruction manual to follow, though following your heart is a great start no matter what your heart has been through in the past. Being in a relationship means give and take, understanding, patience, compassion. It also means there is room for anger, hurt, frustration, blame. Keeping those scales balanced…therein lies the key.
Sound complicated? That’s because it is, but you don’t give up on life when the road gets a bit bumpy do you? And, if it really, truly, is that “complicated” then get off the road before you get run over. It’s your status.
From those whispered in tiny voices before drifting off to sleep, to those shouted for the world to hear, I tirelessly work at granting my children’s wishes in a world full of “not nows” and “maybe laters.” Some may say I’m spoiling my children by granting their wishes, but I don’t refer to the whiny meltdowns in the toy aisle we’ve all been privy to nor the wants of today stemming from a checklist of grade school comparables all too soon forgotten. I’m talking about the moments they wish with all their hearts, tiny eyes squeezed shut, little bodies tense as they release their wish into the universe, each word carefully enunciated so as to avoid misunderstanding. After years of parenting, I’ve been able to grant many a wish for my children and what I’ve learned may surprise you.
While I enjoy watching their eyes register the realization that their wish was granted as their bodies jump for joy and their smiles light up my world, I enjoy watching their act of wishing more so than the actual granting of the wish.
To see my children conjure up such true and raw passion for something their heart desires is something I hope to see for many years to come. I will know despite all the times I may have gotten it wrong as a mother, that I did something right if they continue to find something in this world worth wishing for. Despite my shortcomings as a parent, I will stand tall knowing I instilled in my children a level of faith no man can rival and a spirit of hope that just may get them through their darkest hour in life.
And, how better to ensure that they continue to wish and pray for something than to do everything in my power to show them wishes really do come true. What to do when granting these wishes is beyond my control? The only thing I know to do. The only thing my own parents instilled in me. I squeeze my eyes shut and release my own motherly wish into the universe, enunciating each word carefully so as to avoid any misunderstanding of my baby’s wish.
There will be moments in life when their wishes will float for a moment like the seeds of a dandelion across an expectant field only to fall to the ground, forgotten and unrealized. Sometimes that will be a blessing in disguise and I will teach them to look back and learn the lesson as I hold their hand and walk toward the next dandelion waiting to be wished upon, the next candle waiting to be blown out, the next falling star full of promise.
Do you remember wishing for something with all your heart?
Did your wish come true or was the lesson in not getting your wish?
I was startled awake to my entire world shaking. Living at the top of a high-rise, I felt like a bird being rattled out of its nest by a being greater than itself. The wrought iron panel that normally leans against my wall, was rattling and falling forward. The hanging lamps across the room did an interpretive dance all their own. My first thought, that of my baby birds as I stumbled down the hall to their bedrooms. One was awake and terribly afraid. The other fast asleep in his innocence. The building swayed to and fro as I made my way back, shaken to my very core and still in a state of confusion. The steady ground I took for granted had been pulled right out from under me. We had just experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4.
This Puerto Rico quake comes almost exactly 4 years after a powerful 7.0-magnitude quake devastated another Caribbean island – Haiti.The 2010 disaster took more than 100,000 lives.
As I lay my head back on my pillow, still shaken, but so very grateful to be okay, I couldn’t help but think of the wake up call these moments are in life. Our lives are much like the Etch A Sketch of our younger years, at the mercy of some greater force, natural or otherwise.
“The toy can be considered a simplified version of a plotter. The inside surface of the glass screen is coated with aluminium powder which is then scraped off by a movable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen. The stylus is controlled by the two large knobs, one of which moves it vertically and the other horizontally; turning both knobs simultaneously creates diagonal lines. To erase the picture, the artist turns the toy upside down and shakes it. Doing this causes polystyrene beads to smooth out and re-coat the inside surface of the screen with aluminum powder. The “black” line merely exposes the darkness inside the toy. Filling in large “black” areas will allow enough light through to expose parts of the interior.” – Wikipedia
As kids we spent so much time, focused on getting the picture to look a certain way. We would concentrate so hard on making the lines perfectly straight and the end result one we would be happy to present to the world, but only after we had erased any flaws and forgotten all mistakes. As adults we carry on much the same way, with the belief that the final Etch A Sketch masterpiece of our life should scream perfection before we let those around us see it. We grip those white little knobs for dear life, refusing to give up control, believing we alone decide which direction the next line will be drawn. In our ego centric state, we have no doubt we control our destiny.
And yet, in one swift move, with a shake here and a rattle there, it can all disappear. Worse yet…the Etch a Sketch we worked so hard to create, can suddenly look a whole lot different than what we ever imagined.
Maybe it’s time to start looking outside the confines of the Etch A Sketch and start living outside the box we have limited ourselves to…there’s a whole world out there full of possibilities to explore. Show the world your flaws. Its response may shake you up in ways you never imagined!
“Lord, give me strength.” She pulled up to the house in the dark of night, cut off the engine, and leaned her head back against the seat. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. And so began her nightly ritual as she arrived home from her second job each night. She reached across the seat and grabbed the small bag containing toilet paper, toothpaste, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of bread before exiting the car. She prayed it was enough to hold them over until Friday when she would once again stretch her small paycheck like a magician pulling colored scarves out of a hat.
She quietly entered the old house, treading lightly across the creaky old floorboards so as not to wake anyone. After placing the milk in the fridge, she willed her tired muscles to carry her up the stairs, knowing once she reached the top her exhaustion would be forgotten as she stopped in for a glimpse of her sleeping angels. Her life wasn’t always that of a single mother with three children, but life doesn’t always turn out the way we once dreamed. She was living proof of that. And yet, she wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world if it meant erasing the three greatest blessings in her life. As usual, she found the twins cuddled up together in one twin bed as though reverting to the comforting days of the peace they experienced in the womb. She covered them with a second blanket, kissed their foreheads, and made her way down the hall. She passed Jacob’s room, knowing she would find her ten-year old son asleep in her bed once again. She no longer moved him back to his own bed, taking as much comfort from sleeping with him as he did with her.
As she did every night, no matter how late she arrived, she filled the tub and soaked for a bit. Surely, it made more sense to take a quick shower and jump in bed, but she needed these baths. It always felt like a cleansing of sorts as she imagined washing away all her troubles before laying her head on her pillow. Otherwise, she knew her worries would circle her mind and sleep would elude her when she needed it most. Thank goodness she still had her mother with her to stay at home with the kids while she worked. She wouldn’t know what to do without her help, but she also knew she was getting older and that wouldn’t always be the case.
This time of year was always the hardest and loneliest for her. It was when she seemed to feel the full brunt of being a single mother the most. She wanted a magical Christmas for her children, but she had stopped believing in magic long ago. How do you continue to help your children believe when the world has stripped you of your hope, your dreams, your faith? As she lay beside him, she watched her son sleep and realized the tranquil look he once possessed was beginning to fade even in his dreams. “Lord, please give me strength.”
She woke before the sun. Gathering the envelope labeled “Savings” in her nightstand before heading out once more. She hoped to make it back before the kids woke up. As she pulled into the Kmart parking lot, she ran the numbers in her head and knew she would have to choose only one item on the list for each of her children. She didn’t have enough for the rest of the items she had placed on Layaway, but Christmas was just days away and she had to have at least one gift under the old Charlie Brown tree in the living room.
She asked the Layaway attendant to please pull up her list so she could select the items she could afford. The list wasn’t long, although she had surprised herself that day by allowing herself to dream for a bit, imagining she actually had the means to give her children the items they asked for this year.
The young girl hit a few keys and said, “Paid in Full.”
“There must be some mistake,” the woman said and repeated her name. The young girl gave her the biggest smile she had ever seen. “I was working the evening shift last night, when a couple came in with their two young children. I heard them explaining to their kids the meaning of putting something on layaway and how blessed they were to be in a position where they had never had to do that. They then asked me to pull up a layaway list that included children’s items and paid it in full. When I asked them if they wanted me to contact the person, they said no. Just tell them we said, Merry Christmas and God Bless.“
The young lady then proceeded to hand the items over to the woman who stood motionless, tears streaming down her face. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The young lady handed over the final item and said, “Don’t thank me, that family gave me faith that magic still exists. Merry Christmas to you and your children.”
This is our yearly tradition with our children, and all of us have come to look forward to it more than any other aspect of our holiday season. The story above is just one of the versions I’ve imagined in my heart throughout the years. Do you have a family tradition during the holidays?
Once upon a time there was a little elf named Olivia.
Not surprisingly, Olivia the Elf loved Christmas.
One year, Santa sent her a magical little elf which she named Melfy.
Melfy had a great run for approximately two years before he mysteriously disappeared.
Unbeknownst to Olivia, her parents ordered up a new elf and secretly replaced Melfy.
(That was back when all the Elf on a Shelf elves looked the same.)
Of course, the moment the new Melfy arrived, the old Melfy decided to make an appearance.
And so Olivia’s parents made the executive decision that Olivia’s little elf brother, Evan, was now old enough for his very own elf.
Evan the Elf named his magical elf, Dragon.
Melfy and Dragon had tons of fun for several years.
They wrestled super heroes, and even survived a fire.
Well, not really a fire, but Melfy’s collar got burned and Dragon’s chin looked like he was attempting to grow a goatee.
That’s what happens after a day of hanging from the chandelier…literally.
Stick to the shelf, elves!
The battle scars served to differentiate the gender neutral elves, so all was right with the world.
Until…the family moved to Puerto Rico without their belongings and Olivia and Evan’s parents realized their faux pas.
New elves couldn’t be ordered because they don’t make them with unique burn marks.
Although the thought crossed their mind to burn two new elves, it was too risky.
What if they burned the left collar instead of the right?
What if the goatee now looked like a full beard?
So…two new elves arrived this year.
Meet Annabelle and Winston.
They arrived with a letter from Santa, explaining what happened to Melfy and Dragon.
Congratulations Melfy and Dragon on your recent promotion!
And, thank you for warning Annabelle and Winston to be very careful where they hang.
I hope you enjoyed the tale of Elf On The Shelf’s Costly Christmas Caper.
If you don’t think it was costly, do the math.
Each elf costs $35!