A Love History of Guys - How Each One Helped Me Find What I Truly Wanted

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I thought I wanted the bad boy with the hot car. Or my God, the guy with the eyes – every time he looked at me my insides turned into lava. Or the smart guy who helped me pass 11th-grade Chemistry. (Side note, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the smart ones…His wife looks super happy on Facebook.) When I went to college I thought it was the good looking Italian guy from New Jersey, who charmed me and my roommates by singing outside our dorm room window. Later when I lived in Atlanta, I dated this guy who made me laugh so much I couldn’t breathe. I thought I wanted that guy - the funny guy.

But through all of my boyfriends and friends who were guys, life would offer little glimpses of what I really wanted in a guy. My heart would nudge me to pay attention to the traits that would matter in the future. The important attributes more than fast cars, dreamy eyes or the romance of a serenade.

*Like the time a guy mowed my parent’s yard because my dad hurt his back.
*Like the guy who brought magazines and egg drop soup when I had my wisdom teeth removed.
*Like the guy who drove all night to sit with me when my dad died.
*Like the guy who stopped something awful from happening to me at a party where I never should have been.
*Like the guy who bought my lunch when I was in college, working three jobs and still broke.
*Like the guy who helped me get back home after a snow storm.
*Like the guy who sat with me in the airport before my flight to L.A. when I was terrified to host my company’s presentation.
*Like the guy who came to meet me in the middle of rush hour traffic after a van hit my car.
*Like the guy who said, “You’re a writer – I believe in you.”

The things that curl your toes and turn your insides into Jell-O will not matter when life pushes you. Yesterday, my husband’s actions reminded me of why I fell in love with him. It wasn’t that it was a difficult event or that he handled some big struggle or issue, but it was a little moment in time that captured my heart again.

I had an appointment downtown that was taking longer than expected. I texted him and asked if he could feed my meter because I didn’t have any more change and I was stuck in the meeting. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, he was on the phone with our son who was having car trouble (locked steering wheel and couldn’t get the ignition to engage – rookie mistake.) He also just hung up the phone with his mother’s assisted living facility and finished a meeting and conference call that took longer than expected. He has a stream of people with varied problems in his office every single day but he handles it with a steady, calm that I respect so much.

That’s the guy I want.

The one, who patiently guides our son, loves and cares for his mother, values and respects his co-workers, and drives the four blocks to feed my meter. Danny is funny and he is cute and he does help me in tough situations. He’s honored my parents in so many ways and he’s driven miles and miles just to see me. So when life gives you glimpses of what your heart needs, pay attention – because it’s rarely what you “think” you need.

Come Home Safe

Come home safe. That’s what I find myself saying a lot these days. Come home safe. It’s my motto -- on repeat ever since I’ve been adjusting to our family’s new normal. This awkward new chapter in our life called Surviving the Terrifying Moments When Your Teenager Drives Away Until They Return -- and ways to avoid Life360 App addiction. Come home safe is the crutch phrase of our family’s new season. You use crutches when you’re hurt or weak and although it’s embarrassing to admit - my children growing older makes me anemic.

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I say come home safe every morning before school as my son grabs his car keys and my daughter opens the back door that leads to the garage. The last words I say on the phone are, come home safe when my son calls from his job and lets me know he’s on his way. I feel the concern in my voice and I know my kids hear it too when I say come home safe on a Friday night after an overtime football game. It’s a crutch, but I’m imperfect.

My son turned 16 this year and I could tell you all the things I’ve been telling myself over and over -- that he’s respectful, responsible, makes good grades, has terrific friends -- all that warm, positive vibey stuff, but he’s driving solo more often and when he says goodbye - I always say, come home safe.

Like it makes any difference at all.

As if the words, come home safe will shield him and place a cover of protection over his car. Like an imaginary bubble that prevents other cars and objects from hitting him, or worse, if he hits someone else. I’m not sure why I’ve worked up in my mind that it would be worse if he caused the wreck. Fault or no fault, our car insurance payment will balloon but honestly, it isn’t about the money. The older I get the more I realize that if it can be fixed with money it’s not a problem. Don’t get me wrong - I don’t think money can fix everything - and we certainly struggle with not having enough of it, but if the problem can be fixed with money, it’s manageable. Here’s what’s fixable -- a totaled car, a damaged church sign, an extended hospital stay or months of physical therapy. All of those inconveniences are paid with time and money even if takes until you are 127 years old. A loved one, dead on the side of the road after a car accident cannot be fixed with money.

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Come home safe.

But like a fresh breeze, all these gory images are ushered from my brain and replaced with the endless loop of my energizing, rehearsed, positive words.  My son is respectful, responsible and a good student. He has terrific friends and he’s conscientious. I added that last adjective since it has a comforting sound to it. Makes me feel better to think that he’s a conscientious driver. A person wishing to do what is right and to do it with care.

It was after a few months of him driving that I realized I was pouring a favorable outcome into him. Planting seeds of confidence in his subconscious. I say come home safe instead of don’t speed...don’t be reckless...don’t make quick turns or tailgate. I won’t parent using the negative because I chose not to parent that way when they were younger. I used words of affirmation as I spoke to him just like I’ve done his whole life, but now, in this season, my words are different. Instead of, come home safe, when they were younger I’d say, share what you have and when they did, “I’m proud of you.” As the kids grew, I’d say “care for one another or watch out for your sister.” When they entered middle school, “Be a leader” and then later, “Make good decisions" and "I believe in you.”

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Come home safe is my way of adjusting to my teenagers when they flinch (ever so slightly) when I say I love you or when they shrug me off as I pat them on the shoulder. It stings a little when I can see him recoil when I adjust his collar. Our kids know they are loved. But, I’m honest enough to admit that they’re going through the “it’s so weird stage” when your mom says love you -- all the time -- out loud -- for like the whole world to hear. So I’ve learned to replace I love you with come home safe.

And come home safe is my way of saying that home will always be their safe place to land.

A Lesson on Empathy

My daughter is an empath.

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If there's such a thing as a hard-core empath, then that would be where Sophie would live. Her home in the empath community would be in the radical, true-blue, undeniable feeling ALL the FEELS category. It’s important that you’re aware of this upfront before I go any further with this 100% true account of something that happened today. If you’re not familiar with the empath personality, here’s the first definition Google delivered.

What does it mean to be an empath?
Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Psychologists may use the term empath to describe a person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.

Please note the last part...often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.

Describing my daughter this way is not an exaggeration so that I can put some sizzle in this story and make it a “bigger deal” than it is. Sophie is often incapacitated when she sees another person (or animal) suffering. Her strength is stripped from her and it takes a while for her recovery.

Now that I’ve explained my daughter’s empathy to you, you’ve probably formed one of two opinions of her personality. Either you can completely relate because you're an empath or know one, OR you’ve festered some judgment about me as a mother raising a child who is “too sensitive.”

Try and keep an open mind and read the rest of my story which is a typical day in the life of my almost 15-year-old. Below is the actual text message exchange between Sophie and me while she was at school today.

This is the worst day. I’ve been having the worst day.
I’m really, really sad.
And scared. I’m scared.

Why?

I had to watch a video in Wellness Class about a guy with a heroin addiction.

Ohhhh. That’s hard. I understand.

It’s rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t stop. I can’t. In my mind. I can’t

Yes, I know. I understand.

It made me soooo scared and afraid and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Yes, I’m sure it does make you feel that way but you know you have power over your thoughts. You are an empath. So it’s okay to feel for him, but you must tell your mind to STOP. You are in control of your thoughts.

I just can’t stop crying.

I know and I understand.

It has wrecked me. I can’t focus.

Feel it. Accept it. Then let it pass through you. Imagine the feeling coming into you then passing away through your fingertips.

Ok.

Accept the way you’re feeling. Feel it. Then let it pass through you. Allow it to move away. Let go.

Ok.

You can do this.

Ok. Thank you.

I love you.

I love you MOM.

God asked me to be Sophie’s mother. His request wasn’t a mistake. I believe deeply in my core that she was meant to be my daughter because of this moment and all the other moments we’ve shared before this one. Like Sophie, I have had a lifetime of struggle with feeling the feels deeply and if I can offer the mental and emotional tools I didn’t have when I was her age, then I have helped break the cycle and lessened the length of time she feels debilitated.

Empaths are a real thing. Don’t dismiss the power of love they carry. The empathy and compassion they have for others are beautiful gifts to the world.

Honest as a Sun Visor Mirror

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There is nothing more honest than a car's sun visor mirror.

Nothing.

I drove into the parking spot at the imaging center. It was time for my annual mammogram. My check-ups started a little earlier for me since we have a family history. *Even though this post is not about breast cancer - let it serve as a reminder and a nudge that you need to schedule yours if you've put it off.*

I pulled down the sun visor and flipped open the mirror. In an effort to be as authentic as possible - I could explain away my face's reflection and say that the noonday sunlight was harsh or that I had just left a crazy day at work and I was feeling a bit haggard, or that my salon hair color visit is in a just a few days. I could even admit that I am mid-forties and this is what I look like. But a car sun visor mirror does not lie. It reflects what it sees.

The mirror made me think about what honesty looks like -- when you face the truth of something that's unpleasant in your life. When's the last time you were as honest with yourself as that car mirror is? Level with yourself? Get real? Deal with whatever you've been avoiding or sweeping under the rug or putting off for another day?

We're supposed to be our own best friends -- our loudest cheerleader and our harshest critic -- but I'm not talking about pom-poms or fault-finding. I want you to consider if you've been honest about a toxic relationship? A doctor's appointment you NEED to make? A phone call or a visit that you've been putting off? Getting your finances in order? Saying you're sorry? Make the hard decision to let someone go? When will you be honest with yourself about whatever it is that you haven't faced until you really studied your reflection in the truthful mirror?

It made me start thinking and maybe it'll help you too.

Love,

Eleanor

(P.S. Schedule your mammogram.)

Afraid to Give What We Want

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What we hold back from others is the usually the single thing we need the most for ourselves. Have you ever thought about this? We keep what we're afraid to giveaway for fear it won't come back -- or be reciprocated. We avoid letting go of our gifts -- our human connection with others and withhold them from people in our lives. It's heartbreaking that often these offerings are kept from those closest to us.

Have you stopped encouraging your friend because she rarely celebrates your accomplishments? Do you withhold affection from your spouse since they don't seem to notice that you'd love a hug after a long day? Are you afraid to give/tithe/share/donate because your family is struggling? The reason you avoid going to a party/celebration/event is that the other attendees didn't come to yours?

We keep what we're afraid to lose as a defense mechanism for our tender heart and all the feelings that go with it. We build a fence around our brain, our vulnerability (and between our relationships) to deflect all the bad thoughts. If we don't share, or engage, or celebrate others - then we tell ourselves we won't be disappointed (as much) when they don't do the same for us.

Think about what you hold back from others...or maybe what you keep from just that one person. What do you withhold from them to shield yourself from pain, discomfort or sorrow? Would you be willing to break the cycle and dare to give it away?

Gratitude without Rainbows and Meadows

When was the last time you were feeling ungrateful? It's hard to admit but be brave for a minute. You know you should be grateful but it's hard when it's an ordinary day and there are things in your life that aren't going well. We sometimes associate gratitude with a cheerful disposition. We get so annoyed when others who always seem grateful, have rainbows spilling out of their ears and they're skipping through a Tuesday like they're in a meadow with colorful streamers trailing behind them.

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How can you feel cheerful when so much in your life seems wrong or out of balance? You're feeling overwhelmed by too many responsibilities and problems and the three-ring circus that is your life. You don't have time to feel grateful. How can we be thankful for an ordinary day full of the same messy circumstances?

I feel ya' and I'm right there with you. I get it.

And even when I'm feeling this way, when the alarm goes off, the first thing I do is list 3 blessings. I absolutely do this -- even when I don't wanna' and I'd rather pull the pillow over my head. Every morning before I reach for my phone and start scrolling, and before I have a cup of coffee or take a shower -- I lie in bed and think of 3 good things. Just 3. As I'm yawning and wiping my eyes from the crusty remains of allergies, I take a mental inventory of 3 things for which I am thankful. Do you know what happens? I almost always list more than 3. Gratitude helps your attitude and gets your day heading in a positive direction...(without rainbows and meadows.)

But throughout the day -- the ordinary days when we feel like we're in the hamster wheel, doing the same thing, going to the same places, seeing the same people, buying the same food -- we forget to be grateful for doing those things and seeing those people and eating the same foods.

We forget to be thankful because we overlook the blessing's simplicity. When I look through my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator deciding what to make for dinner (again because the people who live with me ask every -- single -- day - what are we having?) I slow down and think for a moment how many people don't have food in their pantry, or working appliances, or no one to share a meal with them. They're lonely which is a horrible hunger too. Suddenly the chore of making dinner for my family isn't a chore at all. It's a blessing.

I'm going to try and appreciate all of the normal events of the day and treasure the daily blessings. It's not easy - I don't always succeed and some days we just feel grumpy and out of sorts. It's okay. We're human. Forgive yourself and move on. Take time to appreciate the ordinary days, the boring days, the uneventful days because you'll want them back when you face pain mixed in with the beautiful ordinary moments. It's easy to give up and say I don't have anything to be grateful for and some days its hard to keep trying to find the good. Do it anyway. #alwaysbegrateful

Put Your Blinders On

I’m giving you permission to put your blinders on. That’s right - cup the sides of your eyes so that you can only see what is on the path in front of you. Get rid of your peripheral vision. Look straight and don’t move your head from side to side. I’m giving you a free pass today to block the distractions around you and help zero in on what is right in front of your beautiful face.

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What’s it like? A little weird, maybe? Does it seem strange to only look ahead? Think of it ano...ther way. It’s like peeking through a set of window blinds. You are only seeing a thin slice of the whole view.

Accusing someone of wearing blinders has a deep, negative vibe, doesn’t it? You might have heard, “She’s got blinders on! She’s totally oblivious to what’s going on around her!” It’s the same as saying she’s in her own bubble. Wearing blinders also suggests that someone is narrow-minded, myopic or intolerant of other viewpoints.

But consider this -- they put blinders on horses to block their peripheral vision so they won’t get distracted by what’s going on behind them or next to them. It’s to help keep the horse focused on what’s ahead, not what’s happening with other animals or movement in the buggy that they’re pulling.

So when is okay to have your blinders on?

Theoretical blinders are a good (and necessary) instrument in your emotional toolbox and here’s my ‘for real’ moment for you. Anytime I’m feeling noticeably jealous or insecure of someone else, I slap those imaginary blocks on the side of my head and hide them from my view. I force myself into a narrow tunnel vision every single time I start looking around at “everybody else” and grow envious of “all of their successes.” I put my fictional blinders on when my vision becomes distorted and when I start believing “other people” have all their mess in a tidy, little pile. (It’s not true by the way.)

Everyone struggles.
Everyone survives storms.
Everyone has doubts.

If you wear blinders so you can focus on your own task and prevent yourself from seeing what’s happening next to you, then I say high-five chica and I’ll help you strap those blinders on the side of your head. BUT, if you are wearing them to avoid seeing something so you can stick your ostrich head in the proverbial sand, then no - tug them off. Blinders aren’t meant to prevent you from filling a need because you don’t “see” the need.

But it’s okay to put them on to protect yourself and keep you between the lines of your own road. I have to put on my notional blinders when I find myself focusing on others success. I have to cup my eyes and draw my attention away from someone winning a race that’s not mine. They may have success in your same field or they’re doing the same thing you want to do - but that’s their race. Not yours. Walk, run or crawl on your own path - but don’t stop trying because you see people blowing past you. Get up. Adjust your blinders and get back to it.

Make Time for Happiness

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Do you make space for happiness?
Is there room in your life for a little bit of whimsy on an ordinary day?

Or do you crowd your day with lists and more lists...and they all need checking off but you never seem to finish? Do you make the phone calls, return the emails, and waste time waiting at appointments? Are you trying hard to focus during meetings but THEN make more lists for all of it to get done and you organized for the next day? The next week?

But how do you feel right now in this second?

When you fill up your time and life with the “gottas” what happens is that your days turn into busy weeks. Your weeks become months that you can’t remember and feel like a blur and then BAM 💥 it’s Thanksgiving and you start on your to-do list for another year.

We’re so busy filling up our space with the musts that we sometimes forget to enjoy an ordinary moment. The delight of paying attention to your life, right now. The time and space when someone or something makes you smile.

This is what happened to me yesterday.

I was slammed busy from the moment I woke up at 5am until after dark and I was driving home from the gym. I had one more stop to make before I could go home and probably throw in a load of laundry to squeeze just one more thing in my day. We needed creamer and milk. That’s it. Just those two things on the list. (Can’t get away from lists.) I planned to run in to the grocery store, grab those two items, then head home.

But this yellow-faced guy (pictured) stopped me. A $5.00 Sunflower 🌻 changed my crazy, busy day in an instant. I could’ve walked by his sweet, sunny face and ignored how I felt when I saw him sitting there with the others.

It made me happy and I just stood there for a moment and let it make me happy. I enjoyed the moment. I made space for happiness.

Then, true to my list...I bought the creamer, the milk and a $5.00 sunflower.

Believe Your Children To Be Good

Awhile back we found two lamps for our daughter Sophie's room. They were absolutely perfect! We finally found a set that would match her room, make her happy and appeal to our budget. Fast forward to later that night at dinner, I asked our son (rather enthusiastically) if he'd seen his sisters new lamps and if he likes them?!?

He responded (by mocking my enthusiasm) “What am I gonna say? Wow, look at what good ol’ Thomas Edison invented?"

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Snark is strong with this one.

But that’s not the story I want to tell you. Our son is 16 years old. He’s a guy who likes being a little crusty but some days his heart can’t help but shine through his outwardly brave exterior.

Last night as I climbed the stairs to our bedroom, I saw my daughter’s phone on one of the steps. Earlier she had forgotten it downstairs so I rested between the rungs on one of the steps so she’d see it the next time she went to her room.

Moments before I went upstairs I heard my son go ahead of me. He would’ve seen the phone, stepped over it and climbed the rest of the flight.

As I picked up the phone to carry it to my daughter’s room, I called out, “Son???”

“Ma’am?”

“Could you have picked up your sister’s phone instead of just stepping over it on the way upstairs?”

“Sorry.”

As I rounded the corner I saw my son and daughter in her room staring at a laptop.

“What are y’all doing?”

Without looking up, he says, “Sophie is having a hard time finding the homework module for math and I’m showing her where it is and how to get there.”

Sophie’s wide smile told me she was as surprised as I was.

He said, “There! It’s right here. Do you see?”

She looked at the screen and said, “Oh yay! Thank you Bubby!”

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Son - 1

Just when I think I need to fuss about being insensitive or unhelpful, my son astounds me with his adult behavior.

If you believe them to be good, they will be —and sometimes they will be, even if you don’t.

A Sparrow that Falls

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For no specific reason, I wept on my drive to work this morning. Tears slipped off my cheek, turning cold as the AC blew on my face. I told God that even with all that I have to be grateful for that I was overcome with uncertainty. My mind was racing uphill with mountains of responsibilities and my heart was heavy, thumping through a thick gel of concerns.

It made no sense to have such a sense of dread, especially when I think of myself as an upbeat, positive person. I confe...ssed to God that I was heartbroken over the things He already knew and that apprehension and doubt filled my spirit. I told Him that I knew He loved me but that I also knew He had 7 billion people on this planet to care for and that me feeling overwhelmed was not unusual. I said I would try to sort this out.

It was early, so I was the first one to work. I walked up the steps to the office door and found a dead blue bird in front of the large picture window. My tears fell again as I set my purse down and scooped his tiny body and rest him gently underneath the bushes. This was no way to start a Monday and I was already feeling down. As I settled into my chair and turned on my computer, I did a quick search of bluebirds and this was one of the first images that I found.

Coincidence? I don't think so.
God loves us more than we can possibly understand.

Social Media - Apples and Oranges

 

 

Social Media is great for keeping up with friends and watching cat videos but our addiction has caught a virus that’s making our relationships unhealthy. You know that thing that happens when someone announces their position on a fevered topic then another person comments below about a completely different issue as a counter position?

“Oranges!!!”

“APPLES!!!”

Here’s an example: Say you have a friend upset over animal abuse. They post that they want the abuser brought to justice. Someone else comments that compassion and justice for an animal shouldn’t be as critical of an issue as the life of an unborn child.

These are separate issues and they are both worth valid discussions but one has absolutely no bearing on the other. One cause has nothing to do with the other belief system.

The same philosophy applies to giving accolades. When someone suggests that another person is a hero, they are not nullifying someone else's credibility of being a hero. There are many types of heroes, leaders, and torchbearers. None of them take away admiration of another person. You can respect more than one — and we often do for different reasons.

Opinions and beliefs are powerful components of the human condition. Supporting one issue will not decrease the value of another separate issue. Let’s harness our passion for the topics we believe in and go to work FOR it. Only stating what we’re against isn’t nearly as productive.

Let's not take away from one to stand for another.

Apples can be apples.
Oranges can be oranges

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The Heaviest I've Ever Been

When I discovered how heavy I’d become, I was in the Dermatologist’s office. It was a Thursday and the weather was dreadful. Rain had soaked our city for days -- flooding streets and overwhelming storm drains. When I looked at the parking lot through the water-streaked window, it was full of puddles and the nearby gullies were swollen and nearly cresting. I remember thinking, if we get flushed away, at least I’ll float to the top.

Digital scale in Doctor's office.

Digital scale in Doctor's office.

It was the first time I’d ever been to the dermatologist. Several of my co-workers came to our office with band-aids on their neck or arms -- residual proof of having a potentially cancerous mole removed, so I thought it might be a good idea to go, too. You know -- age spots. I checked in, was relocated to Exam Room One and finished answering a series of health questions. Do you use sunscreen? What level SPF? Have you ever used a tanning bed? Do you have any skin cancer in your family? Are you allergic to anything? Do you work outside? After suitable answers were documented and checked off, the nurse practitioner asked me to slip off my shoes and step on the digital scale.

If I hadn’t weighed so much and my cement feet weren’t grounding me to the scale, I would have fallen off in disbelief. When the "judging me" machine beeped, I stared at the readout and questioned everything I had eaten in my life in the span of about 23 seconds. My legs felt like concrete blocks and my knees suddenly forgot how to do their job. I turned around slowly as to not scare the scale any further and made my way to the chair. I felt like my thighs were melting off the edge of the seat and dripping onto the floor like cake batter. 

“But she has such a pretty face!”

Dad hugging me. (Lollipop, not a cigarette.)

Dad hugging me. (Lollipop, not a cigarette.)

Weight has never really been an issue for me. The only time (until now) that weight felt like a topic that needed addressing was when my Dad, after watching television or reading the paper would announce, “We’re becoming a nation of fat people!” I think this must have been a generational ideal because I remember my mom lamenting, “Oh, but she has such a pretty face!” My parents loved their girls more than themselves and these comments were never directed towards us, it was just conversation we grew up hearing. They believed that the United States was unified only by gaining obscene amounts of weight. We should all try harder to be thinner.

I was a skinny, bony child -- just elbows and legs until age 14. I developed modest hips and a smaller bust compared to most throughout puberty. During my roaring, single 20s I stayed in the 6-8 size range. I definitely wasn’t fit - but I was average or below in weight so I never thought about it.

In my early 30s, even when pregnant, I didn’t feel like a blimp and really I wasn’t heavy considering I was carrying this extra person who crowded my rib cage and mashed my bladder. I nursed, so that helped most of the baby weight come off and 16 months later - second verse same as the first -- I was still doing okay with baby number 2 and keeping extra weight off. Mostly because I was chasing a toddler and caring for an infant.

But I added weight and inched up the scale. I was softer in my mid-section but still hanging out in what most would consider average size clothing. The weight gain was subtle and my new desire for more loose fitting clothes and the comfort of elastic made my actual sizing seem vague. I considered myself average size and my doctors never mentioned weight at my Annual Physical or GYN checkups so I thought I was okay. But my perspective changed when I went to the dermatologist and stepped on a scale that came from The Devil and his depraved underworld.

Over the years, my jobs changed too, I wasn’t hustling and moving on the retail floor or working crazy hours at Radio Station remotes and events. My work became sedentary - calculating numbers at an accounting firm and writing posts like this one at my desk. Snacks cured boredom from sitting and cooking at home was a money saver but a calorie-induced coma.  Easy meals were prepared with processed quick dinners and comfort food like pasta and rice. Every week and month, the weight inched on but I was so busy working full time and raising a family that I didn’t think too much about the extra carbs and unhealthy choices. I was feeding my family and our time together at the table was more important than portion size or that our food pyramid was upside down.

Two important notes I’ll insert here:

  1. I am not making excuses. I’m explaining where I started and how the rat race kept me from spending time on the treadmill and making better food choices.

  2. This is a story about the heaviest I HAVE been -- not how heavy you’ve been or how much Aunt Marge has been. It’s my journey and I’m not comparing Chocolate Layered Cake to Apples. I’m not judging others for how heavy or light, healthy or unhealthy they are.

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When you put on weight and you’ve gone up in pant sizes a couple of times you start to think that maybe you should do something to get a bit of the extra weight off. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I started going to the gym and being more conscious of what I eat. No chips, white bread, sweets, soda or wine. I drink water All. Day. Long. and have one cup of coffee in the morning.  Yes, I still take it with cream and sugar. Dammit, I’m not perfect. Honestly, I had been going to the gym for about three weeks before I went to the dermatologist and discovered my loathing of a piece of metal attached to weighing instrument panel - so it makes me wonder how much heavier I was before exercising regularly and eating better.

For the love, I eat bran now.  

BRAN!

I didn’t gain weight, overnight. It was several nights -- like years of nights. Losing weight takes time. And I’m going to unpack the extra pounds and do the work one day at a time. What is your story? What have you done to gain a healthier lifestyle and lose unwanted pounds?

 

Life Stopped Me Today

Life stopped me today.

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I felt the pressure on my chest. It was the exact same feeling I had when my Dad’s arm flung to hold me from lunging into the dash from hard braking. Life pushed on me and I felt an overwhelming sense to stop and feel the message. The sensation was urgent. Insistent. A feeling of being fully surrounded. My body alert, electrified and I could hear a sound like a fetal heart monitor thrumming in my ears.

I had other things to write about today. A pile of unfinished work, a list of errands and emails and all the extras life expects me to handle. I had a headache mocking me - convincing me I wouldn’t get any of it done.

Not one bit.

But sometimes life stops you - like it did for me today.  I looked out my office window and watched as the trees bent sideways, the dark gray clouds turning into padded walls - suffocating and low.  The thunder growls without ending...it just keeps rumbling like a stomach begging to churn. There was a summer storm.  Some storms are scarier than others, but something about this one told me to go home. I felt an extraordinary presence. Impossible to describe other than it felt ethereal. I wasn’t afraid of it - I was afraid of its urgency.

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Leave now.  Drive home. Don’t wait.

I thought I was being sent home because of the impending storm. I thought the presence I was feeling commanded me to check on my daughter. She would be alone since her brother left for work less than ½ hour ago. The AccuWeather alert escalated from a Thunderstorm Warning to Dangerous Thunderstorm - Seek shelter. A quick glance at the Life360 app showed me that my son made it to his job. As I hurried to my car, lightning cast like magic across the darkening sky. The wind tore at my skirt and I struggled to pull the car door shut behind me. Inside, my whole body felt a strong tremor of fear. It shook through me as the thunder rattled the ground. Heavy, pelting rain blurred the windshield even though I had the wipers on the fastest setting.  

I thought for a minute that this is ridiculous. It’s a storm. It’ll pass. I can wait it out and then go back inside to work. Summer storms happen all the time. This one is no different. Nearly on cue, the wind subsided. The trees stood tall again and the rain fell into a soft pattering. The sudden stillness was unnerving. I felt electricity rise underneath my skin and finger down my back worse than any horror movie. I shook my shoulders to escape the feeling but it was still there.  

Leave now. Drive home. Don’t wait.

I moved my shaking hand onto the gear shift and dropped it into drive. The storm regained its hostility and raged the entire trip home. In less than 6 minutes I was in our subdivision - 2 minutes more, I turned onto our street. As I crested the hill and looked to the left to see our gray and brick house come into view - I knew exactly what was wrong. The garage door was up - empty of cars. A wide mouth open to the world.

WHERE DOES OUR FEAR COME FROM? 

Our subdivision has over 500 homes. It’s in a rural setting considering how close we are to the city. Most of the time, the neighborhood is quiet - not sleepy - just a regular buzz of coming and going, turning on streets, stopping at stop signs or waiting for geese to cross the road. It’s a great place and most of the time it’s a friendly community of hand waves and checking on our neighbors. But recently we’ve had a nasty rash of car break-ins. No busted windows because our clever thieves used their talents (and probably a Slim Jim tool) for bad rather than good.

Not only have the recent car break-ins made our homeowners edgy and demanding better security at the front gate, but it’s also generated the fear of worst-case scenarios. Instead of breaking into cars, maybe the perpetrators will move into our houses. What about when we’re away at work - or on vacation? Should we invest in outside cameras? Increase our home security?

I hadn’t been sent home because of the storm. My daughter was alone during a terrifying storm with the garage door up. Didn’t she text me a few minutes ago and say she was getting in the shower? Did my son leave on time for work? Does that mean the garage door has been up for 10 minutes? 20 minutes? A half an hour tops?  My heart pounded at jackrabbit speed. I squealed the tires turning up our driveway. Why did he forget to put the door down? Did he lock the interior door? Was he running late?

I shoved the gear shift into park. I unbuckled and jumped out of the car. I took the garage stairs two at a time and barreled through the door and nearly slipped on the kitchen floor.

“SOPHIE!! SOPHIE??”

My daughter walked around the corner with a towel wrapped around her wet hair. Her usual blue eyes, now dark with full black pupils absorbing every bit of surprise and alarm. One of our dogs padded into the room and stood beside her.

“Mama? Are you okay?”

“Are you?"  I said out of breath.  "Sophie - Are YOU okay?”

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She nodded, but her voice cracked when she said. “I’m fine.”

And she was.  She was fine.

But this could've gone a completely different way. 

UNEXPECTED LIFE LESSONS

  1. Teach your children to be aware of their surroundings and not assume that someone else is looking out for them. Parents can forget. Siblings can forget. Every person on this green earth has so much going on that it’s so easy to be distracted. My children have been raised in a fairly protected feathered nest but it’s our responsibility as parents to teach them that even the safest nests have vulnerabilities. This was a great opportunity to explain that she won’t always be at home. I gave her a chance to imagine her own apartment - a dorm room - a hotel room. She has to be aware of her surroundings and verify ALL BY HERSELF that she is locked safely inside. Especially when she is going to be in the shower or have headphones/earbuds on where she cannot hear.

  2. This was also a fantastic opportunity to discuss with my son the importance of “locking” up the house when he leaves. He must always remember, even if he’s running late. Even if he’s distracted by other thoughts. Even if his sister isn’t inside and the house is empty. Our home cannot be left unattended with the garage door wide open announcing to the world that there are no cars here but please help yourself to everything inside. Mistakes happen. Our son is young. He's only a month into his 16th year. Driving and working and growing into his fresh, almost adult skin is new and overwhelming and comes with a lot of shocking learning experiences.

  3. Trust your gut. I’m glad that my daughter was safe. I’m glad that I felt all my body’s nerves screaming for me to notice them. I don’t know what it protected us from - or if it was a stern warning to prevent something else from happening later. But either way - listen to your instincts, trust the presence telling you what to do.  Sometimes it wants you to run. Other times it wants you to hide and be still and quiet. Trust your feels.

  4. DON’T use this as another excuse to be afraid of everything. This was a learning experience for our family and I hope that this story is a great read to help other families discuss a plan. Go over the basics. Remind everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

I love my family and I know you love yours.

Teach your kids to feel their fears and trust their instincts.

But also show them how to lead by using the wisdom of a practiced plan.

Seeking the Real You Takes Beautiful Courage

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You leave behind some of your most beautiful, courageous parts on the road you travel.

 

It’s easy to be youthful and fresh - blossoming while clinging to the vine - up high and showing off your bright colors. The sustaining veins are still touching you. You are connected to a life stronger than your own where the beauty is given and not earned.

Success and adolescence are similar. Sometimes you feel like your best life and greatest achievements are behind you. Now that the flower has bloomed, it turns dark and withers around the edges. It has nothing left to offer.

But deep inside of your belief system. Far beyond the negative talk that we tend to allow in our heads and hearts, there’s a sliver -- a small disbelief that your life and service have met its completion. There is hope as thin as the leaves on the branch that you still have something in you - something to offer to this life because you’re still here.

Maybe you graduated, leaping from one great career move to another. Lightning struck and you found a true love so crazy that you fell into marriage laughing and supporting one another with expectation, service, and happiness. You had a brood of nearly perfect children, saved up enough money for your first house and had one amazing dream come true cascading and pouring into the next one. But then you stopped. Life kept moving and you were standing still in your kitchen. The hope you once felt so strong, now as lukewarm as the coffee you're pouring into the sink.

Life travels whether or not you do.

Time zipped past and one day you realized you were no longer connected to the vine. You’re not sure what happened or when it happened but the youth, the magic and all the dreams fell. The life you knew began to fade away.  You mourned how alive you felt seeming only moments ago when you were high on the branch at the beginning of your life.  But the spring of newness faded and let go of you. You fell into years of trials you didn’t see coming, failures of good and bad decisions and then maybe you've experienced the painful loss of a parent you didn’t realize would hurt as much as it does. A part of you died with them instead of them, living on inside of you.

Your life has been full and most of it has been good. But life and youth tug you away from the high places, the safe places, the source which gave you life in the beginning. Life will blemish the youth. Time wears you down and fades the lovely. Gravity slacks the skin and one day you find yourself, trying to find yourself in the mirror. That's the day you decide to see past the fading and discover the real beauty of courage inside of you. The true strength that lies beyond the wrinkles and age.

Surviving the road instead of traveling on it.

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Your true beauty is surviving the road. Your talents have been honed after years of practice. Your grace is continuing the journey even though you don’t know why or for what purpose. When you travel the road - and keep traveling - that’s beauty. You keep moving. You don’t have to be successful, winning or ass-kicking. Beauty is refusing to give up because the voices in your head and heart tell you that the opportunities are for the strong and young. True beauty is not quitting even though you feel like your life has passed by without taking you anywhere amazing or giving you the chance to show the world what you can do.

You served your kids and they’re doing great. You served your marriage and it may have survived the weather, but you survived the raging storms inside your mind. Ask yourself what is the THING that only you can do?  What reason did God have to put you in this time and space? What’s the thing that you can give to the world that no one else can? What’s the thing still waiting to bloom inside of you? You have become the strength of the vine - giving life to your dreams. Do it. If you’re still traveling the road then you’re on the way to your destination. That thing for just you is still waiting. It’s your dream and it wants to be a part of your life even through all those years you forgot you wanted it.

*You* are a different kind of beautiful now. A better, more experienced, well-seasoned version of you. You are beautiful because you are surviving on the road. The road is the hard part of life that winds and turns and seems endless and yet too fast at the same time. The years behind you aren’t your best. The moments ahead of you - the becoming the you -- you were meant to be. Becoming the REAL YOU will reward every person in your circle. Your children need to see you digging the excellence out of your life. Your friends and family benefit from seeing your true passion emerge. You’ll inspire the people who overlooked or forgot you.

Find all of your beautiful YOUness.

Seek the YOU, you are meant to be.

True beauty and bravery are not fresh, new and unblemished. The stunning courage is that you didn’t stop searching for you. You’ve given to your life and now your life wants to celebrate the road you traveled and the miles you haven't yet started.

There's beauty in falling down and finding your path anyway. But there's remarkable courage when you leave a beautiful trail for others to follow.

A Tale of Two Facebooks

You know a face smiles, but it spills tears too.  

I was having a tough time before, during and after my trip to D.C. with my daughter’s 8th-grade class.  I was thrilled to be selected as a chaperone, but I was leaving my husband with a mountain of headaches. Problems that most every couple faces and because Jesus thinks we can handle it - several of them piled up at once.

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It’s been said that your eyes are the windows to your soul.  Sometimes we’re brave enough to share our soul with our friends and acquaintances.

Here's my story: The week before I left, I felt inspired to take two selfies. In the first, I was feeling positive, optimistic and full of the spirit.  I was believing wholeheartedly in the good. Later, I reluctantly took another one when I was run down, discouraged and feeling hopeless. I had been crying for awhile in my car like you do, and I remember thinking - I’m going to bring forth something good with all of this self-pity.

To my surprise, several ideas came from the images. The first - you ladies will appreciate this - I’ve chosen a remarkable mascara that held up after a 30-minute stream of ugly-cry tears, and secondly, the most important - we share what we’re willing to lose. We reveal a part of ourselves and discover it is a risk.  We’re willing to share the good, but sometimes we’re willing to share the bad and we place ourselves on the social media alter to be judged by our peers.

People forget that it’s okay to be vulnerable, or maybe they remember the pain of it.

I don’t believe we’ve given people the space to feel like it’s okay to share the bad. They don’t trust that their dirty laundry won’t be judged. We ARE judging you.  We can’t seem to help it. Everything that is posted runs rapid-fire through a filter of our history and values. I’d be lying if we weren’t - but we are less likely to judge you when you at least seem real. If your life is always portrayed as good, then it’s not believable.  If you say your life is always full of problems, we’re not buying that either. Humans have a wide range of emotions and connections with other humans. If you’re only promoting half of it - either all good or all bad - then you’re missing out on the deeper connection - the authentic relationship with other humans.Wouldn’t you be a more convincing human if you revealed both?  Good and Bad. Happy and Sad?

MISERY LOVES COMPANY

There’s a few of us who enjoy the wallowing or at least we know someone who does.  We all have that one friend that Every. Single. Time. they post on Facebook it’s to alert the rest of us to something negative. The daily struggle. Either they complain about the poor service they received, or update that they are in the throes of a tough relationship battle or they profess being born under the sign of the turd where nothing goes right for them. They are negative and gain attention from us through their misery. And we become the rubberneckers of someone else’s misfortune. Our scroll slows down to see the life’s wreckage.

But here’s what I believe….It’s okay to stumble and crumble and feel miserable. Just don’t settle in and reside there. We want to see your comeback. Deep down we want to see you overcome adversity so that we can believe it’s possible for us too.

We need the win - whether we admit it or not.

I had a boss once who said with gusto “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.”  There is so much truth in that. Research shows that positive energy comes from fakin’ it until you make it and that forward motion helps your action stay in motion. But if we’re being honest - and an authentic human being - some days no matter how hard you try - you just can’t act or fake. Remember to be kind to yourself - forgive yourself - try again tomorrow.

Clouds are temporary, but so is sunshine.

You can’t always have good days....so this is for those who always post the good...

Most of us promote our highlight reel. Only the latest and the greatest sparkles on our profile page. The awesome selfie with perfect lighting. The humblebrags of our kid prodigies.  The latest vacation to a remote island no one’s heard of so deep down we think you’ve mastered photoshop like a beast. We take pictures of plated food like we’re a set designer for Food & Wine to showcase our unprecedented success at meal preparation. We connect all of our apps to Facebook to show how many miles we logged on this mornings jog, what books we just finished reading, or which game we just crushed.

REALLY, I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE SO BLESSED, SUSIE SUNSHINE.

ON LIFE & LEMONS

Please stop polishing your lemonade stand and make me a Bloody Mary - extra horseradish.  I want to be real with you. 

There are friends who only want to hear the good.  If life gets icky, they’ve scrolled away from you. They’re not necessarily a bad friend, they’re just not the friend you need for the rough patches. But beware of the friend that seems to thrive on your misery. The friend that shows up at your slightest irritation of life.

I want to know about your new job. I do. I want to see the pictures of your kids. Last weekend’s prom pictures stopped my heart - your gorgeous, all-dressed-up children no longer looked like they were just recently playing in the dirt or had ice-cream dripping off their chin. Your pet pictures get me too. I want them all. I love animals and yours look so darn lovable. But please share with me your tough times too. I want to connect and believe that you’re human and not perfect. Your imperfection allows me to forgive myself and that makes me adore you.

And finally...

In defense of the lurkers...

I want to take a moment and defend those of you who choose not participate in online banter. You are a member of this social media family and even though you elect not to like, comment or post a lot about yourself - it doesn’t matter - you count. You matter. Every human on this planet has good and bad experiences. We have rallies and hardships and even though you can’t imagine sharing your life’s details on a platform like Facebook, you are part of the silent discussion. You’ll empathize with someone who has a health condition similar to yours. You relate to the posts about the struggles of parenting. You may have always wanted to visit Chicago and a friend just posted a few pictures from there.  

You wouldn’t think I understand your hesitation about posting online because I obviously share so much, but I do.  My mom often said to me (waaaaaay back - when I was a small child and long before Facebook.) “Eleanor, I don’t believe I would’ve told that. Some things you just keep to yourself.” Raise your hand if someone in your family has said this. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always over-shared - even if it embarrassed me. As a child, there was some level of understanding that I was being “real” or “authentic” to my audience. I still have the unabashed filter of an 11-year-old.


 

What a Fall Festival taught our family about Palm Sunday

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It’s hard to think about Fall Festivals near the end of March, but I’m asking you, just for a moment to imagine that it’s autumn. It’s a beautiful fall day in October. The leaves were golden and orange and speckled with brown. A somber reminder that their time on the branch is coming to an end. The leaves quiver and rustle with every breeze curling their ends and tugging them loose. The sky held a thin, white blanket of clouds and at the same time showcased a stellar blue canvas. It was a gorgeous day for a festival. Around the edge of the parking lot, the pumpkins and gourds boasted extra colorful splashes against the weathered, decorative stalks and hay bales. There were bright red and yellow bouncy houses, a snow cone machine and carnival games. Children held balloon animals and stuffed their prizes of wrapped candy into their boots as they waited in line for the cake walk. Parents kept an eye on the kids while talking and laughing with one another. They balanced a plate of barbecue in one hand and held a water bottle in the other.

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The golf course first tee was to the left of the parking lot. There were not many golfers there that day because the tree covered walkway that led to the tee off was blocked. It was lined with all kinds of animals from a local petting zoo. That’s where I found my teenagers. They had no interest in the festival food and games. They were away from the crowds, petting the animals and loving them as if they were old friends. With dirt on the bottom of their jeans my kids took turns moving around the animals. They sidled up next to sheep, llamas, goats, ponies, bunnies and a Scottish Highland Cow named Divot. They hugged the ones that would allow it and pet the ones who didn’t. But there was one animal that stood out that day and it’s the reason I wanted you to think about Fall Festivals at the end of March.

The Donkey 

Have you heard about the legend of the Donkey?

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I’m in my mid-forties and raised Christian my whole life.  I’ve never heard the legend before that beautiful day in October at the Fall Festival. The story made such an impact on our family that I’m sharing it with you now, just before Palm Sunday. According to legend, all purebred donkeys are born with a cross on their back. The marked fur on the donkey is a gift from God. It’s powerful symbolism is used as a reminder of the humble donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

I mean.  Chills.

How amazing and beautiful is this story?

I took pictures of the donkeys while my kids and I listened to the owner of the petting zoo recite the story. When we returned home, I had to find out more and this Bible verse appeared on my screen.

“Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey; on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

The Bible verse is clear - “Coming to you....humble and mounted on a donkey...” The donkey signified arriving in peace. Jesus came into the city in the most modest, non-threatening, ordinary way. He rode upon a lowly donkey instead of a magnificent steed.

The legend goes on to say that the Donkey loved Jesus so much that he followed Him to Calvary. Grief-stricken by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but could not leave. He wished to stay until the suffering was over because of his love and loyalty. The image was forever committed to the donkey as the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and his back. Lore tells us that ever since that day, all pure bred donkeys have this distinction. The donkey carries the cross as a sign that the love of God carries a reward for all to see.

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Do you see how beautiful and complete this story is?  That a donkey carried Mary to Bethlehem and a donkey brought Jesus to Jerusalem? Palms waving and falling at his feet, the crowds acknowledging the prophecy of the Christ, shouting, “Hosanna in the highest.” The donkey represents the ironic beauty of God’s love. Pure and unpretentious. The King of Kings as humble as a servant.

This is why I’ve been saving this blog post since last Fall. There is so much symbolism in the changing of the seasons, the excitement of the carnival atmosphere, the ebb and flow and cycle of life. Months ago, a donkey at a festival showed us the beauty of a legend which reignited our faith. It was a gift of deeper understanding and glorious symbolism of Palm Sunday.  The Lord is the the Alpha and the Omega.  The beginning and the end.  The donkey was with Him in the beginning and a donkey was with Him in the end.







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Bad Days are Lucky

So the other day I had to do this hard thing on my daughter, Sophie’s behalf.  It was icky and uncomfortable and mildly confrontational.  Not fun. When I was younger, (BC - before children) I didn’t mind conflict.  I’d find every elephant in the room or make one up if I didn’t see one. Now that I’m older, it’s different. I want to encourage and support and love people. Not argue or struggle. But several days ago, I had to pull up my proverbial big-girl panties and deal with it.  I did my best to cover the problem in love, use kind words and then move forward.

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A few days before this thing with Sophie, I faced an issue that made my heart get that weird electrical vibe when your body reacts to a mixture of humiliation and anger.  That stinging chest pain that popcorns on all the nerve endings around your heart and face.  The unexpected hurt zapped me in the form of words.  The worst kind. Those words flushed my face and pounded my heart rate into an irregular drum beat. Lopsided and heavy.  A recent acquaintance expressed prickly words directed at me.  I’m human, fearful of being vulnerable but do it anyway, and I’m a writer.  I value words and deeply appreciate their context and believe me, these words stung me on all parts of who I am.

Now I feel like I know you guys.  You are some of my dearest friends, my tribe and loyal readers. A few of you may think about sending me encouraging feedback and uplifting words (I love those messages, btw) to counteract my rough couple of days, but it’s not necessary.  I want to encourage YOU and tell YOU about something more powerful than words.

About how blessed and lucky we are that God and The Universe love to love on us when we’re feeling knocked down and rejected.

After that terrible, awkward meeting when I had to wear my big-girl bloomers and deal with a problem on Sophie’s behalf, Danny and I had lunch at a local deli. Understand that Danny and I having lunch together is a rarity in itself so that was a God wink if there ever was. But the other gift came in the form of the little girl sitting in a high chair at the table next to us.  I promise you, she could have been Sophie’s sister when she was about one-year old.  Those feathery blonde ringlets at the back of her neck, the bright, crystal sky eyes and the widest toothless grin.  That baby girl and I played peep-eye for a few minutes and her breathy, happy, giggle delighted me.  I felt like I was transported to a simpler time, making my own little girl laugh and smile.  That sweet baby even tossed her sippy cup on the floor and looked at me with expectant eyes to pick it up for her.  I know a lot of babies play this game, but for a moment, I slipped through time and it was my baby Sophie.  I was grateful for the gift.  I drove home with tears slipping off my cheek because it felt like God was letting me know that I did the right thing.  I was looking out for my daughter by having that difficult conversation.  I did what mother’s do.  I protected her as if she were still an infant.

But wait. There’s more.

Let’s revisit the electrified, hurtful words - the part-two of the story from the new acquaintance.  I had been mulling it over for awhile.  Bringing it up to Danny at odd times so I could efficiently rehash it.  Discuss it.  Verify for the 87th time that I was reading the person’s words exactly as they were intended.  

The 88th time was one night after dinner.  Danny was in the recliner, feet up, one dog in his lap, glasses resting on the bridge of his nose about to open his latest good read.  I broke the silence and said, “It makes me not want to get out of my hermit shell.”

He sighs, moves his legs so they cross at the ankle, takes his readers off and turns to face me.  He knew where this was going. “What’s that?”

“It makes me not want to meet new people.  Stay to myself like I did for so many years.  Not leave the house. Shell up.  Become like turtles.”

“You’re going to let the words of one person keep you from going out and meeting new people?”

“No. I. AM. NOT.  I’m just saying that it makes me *feel* like staying away from people. And *those* words of *one* person as you say, HURT me.  So if it’s okay with you, I want to circle the wagons for awhile. Stay in. Alright?”

He nods, holds up his hands in surrender. “Okay. I get it.”

Just then.  (I pinky-promise this happened.) I got a text message from a friend that I had not seen in a month of Sundays.  It had been forever.  She asked if we could meet for lunch and bring our husbands.  I looked up from my phone and said, “Babe.  We’re going out with our friends.  We’ve just been invited to lunch and you know how much fun we‘ll have with them!”

Danny failed miserably at crushing his grin and said “What’s that?  No circling the wagons?  No turtle-ing up?”

How lucky and blessed are we that God is like an Echo dot?  He hears everything but not in a weird, electronic way.  He saw that I was retreating and falling back into my old flight pattern.

Avoid tough issues. (Beats wings.)

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Avoid uncomfortable feelings.  (Beats wings harder.)

Instead of focusing on the positive - my supportive friends, tribe and readers - I was focusing on this one small speck.  This one grain of sand even though I was standing on miles of glorious beach. Focus on the good, more good comes. Focus on the positive, you won’t stay negative for long. Bad things and words are going to happen but we can’t let it be where our heart and eyes settle.

Sometimes we’re lucky when we have bad days, because then we can experience all the good that comes from it: Gifts from above that remind us we are loved and friends who are angels at all the right times.