Us Instead Of Them

us Instead of themUsually in our lives we tend to separate people into groups …most often two groups. US and THEM .

Our neat and tidy group…US. These are our friends, acquaintances, and people who look like us. It’s a pretty safe group. We gravitate towards them at Church, parties, sit by them in theaters, smile at them in line, push our kiddos towards them on the playground. Oh come on you’ve done it. I’ve done it. Go play with that cute little girl; she has a pony tail just like you. We don’t even have to “know” them, but we seek them out. They look like us, dress like us, behave like us…We’re smart like that. How convenient. How typical. How boring.

Why do we stay in our comfort zone? Why are we afraid to dip our toe in the water of unknown?

And then there’s THEM…you know…people who aren’t like US. (At least that’s what we think) Are we afraid that the tattoos and piercings covering the young man in line 13 are going to rub off on us? Surely, we know they aren’t contagious, but still WE stand back a couple of feet. Not to pick on tatts and piercings…I’ve got a kid with a tatt, and I’m sure it won’t be his last. Ladies, we have all given that Mom the “look” at the grocery store. You know the one pushing the cart with a shirtless diaper clad baby in the front swigging on a juice box; followed closely by a snotty nosed toddler with no shoes on…with his face buried in a cereal box. Maybe instead of judging this poor exhausted Momma we should be saying, “Sister, I feel your pain! How can I help you?”. (Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago that I WAS that Momma). How about the person on the corner? Store clerks? The new kid at school or Church?  Someone with skin a different color?   A person who loves differently? You see them everyday.

I was reading Bob Goff’s essay: 10 Ways To An Extraordinary Life last night, and this really struck me…

Goff suggests making friendship intentional and, moreover, risky. Because sometimes you can learn more from friends who stand just left of center than those with whom you share everything in common.

What if we got rid of THEM, and included everyone in US? How cool would that be? Step out of your comfort zone and you will be amazed who you meet. Just start looking at people as humans…not as races, tattoos, piercings, homeless, exhausted Mommas, store clerks, straights or gays.

Humans. Us instead of THEM.

 

Love Others As Themselves

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This. Is. Everything. Love others, but as THEMSELVES. Embrace others…all their quirks, messiness, decisions, beliefs, everything. Just love them. Don’t try to change them to fit your mold or ideal; or question how they run their house. Truth be told you’ll never understand everything that makes another person tick…

We all do this judgy thing. Only when it’s small we call it gossip…you know what I mean. We’ve all been on the giving and the receiving end. Jen Hatmaker in one of her preview essays from her new book  For The Love brings up a fabulous list that I am all too familiar with: stay at home Vs career, private school vs public, free range vs tight ship, Christiany vs non-Christiany, formula Vs breastfeeding, glitter & glam vs yoga pants, attachment parenting vs traditional. No matter what you call it…Gossip or judging it serves no purpose. So many of these things seem to center around women…why are we so hard on each other?

I’ve been on one side of all of these “differences”, but the one that sticks out the most is Breastfeeding vs Formula. I’ve had five kids, and I kid you not; one of the first questions I would hear usually from an a acquaintance, or a total stranger…”Are you gonna breastfeed?” Why is that? Not, “Congratulations!”, or “when are you due?” And, the minute I would say, “No, we’ve (feeling the need to throw John under the formula bus) decided to use formula.” I would get this look~~the look that said my formula fed baby would have 3 eyes and 12 toes look~~that would compel me to defend my decision on how I had chosen to feed my baby. When I really wanted to shout, “Look lady, I tried it for a painful two weeks with my first kid…(I still need therapy from the trauma). I’m now on kids 4 & 5, and I want Dad to do his share. I’m just not a nurser.” Guess what? I’ve got 5 formula fed, healthy, happy, smart kiddos. Nurse if you want…I promise I’m good with that. I won’t give you “the look”.

Same with families who let their children sleep with them. I myself am not a fan. My kids know they can snuggle with us until 10…then off to their beds they go. We just need our peace and quiet. But, if others are ok with that in their homes; then go for it. I don’t recall reading about college dorms that have space for the parents of these “attachment” kiddos. They’re going to be just fine.

I gotta tell you…if you are raising an eyebrow at the decisions and choices of others chances are they are raising one right back at you. So, why not just enjoy the different beats of all of our drums? Seems to me that if we all marched to the same beat it might get a little boring around here.

 

 

 

You Will Never Regret Being Kind

Kindness…what a wonderful virtue to have. And, honestly talk about an easy gift to give….it’s actually free. Kindness can be given to others by simply smiling when you pass, reaching out to friends, stepping out of your comfort zone to ask a stranger if they need help. But, I watch people and I wonder why they guard it like their most coveted treasure…almost as if they have a finite amount. You know your not going to run out, right? Your heart is overflowing…the more you giveaway the kinder you become. I promise, you won’t be able to help yourself. You will never regret being kind.

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I will warn you though; kindness is contagious. All of the little eyes that watch you will soon pick up on this trend. I guarantee your kiddos, those little sponges, will jump on the kindness train and it will be fabulous. I’ve seen it. They will start holding doors open for strangers, returning baskets for people in parking lots, reaching out to the new kid in class. Without even realizing it…they too are spreading kindness.

So, as you head out today approach others with kindness; remember that it’s free and that you have an abundance. You won’t regret it.

Be Nice Or Leave

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This has been a relatively quiet week (on my news feed anyway) since #scotus made their landmark decision which consequently did not cause the world to go up in 🔥🔥🔥. In fact it was quiet, peaceful. Quite loving. Would you expect anything else from people who are now allowed the same rights as the rest of us. They celebrated with joy, smiles, love, and family. Hmmmm, kind of like you and me when we get good news.

Here’s the kicker for me. Apparently, there are some people who are not very happy about #marriageequality. And, they have been stewing for the past week…almost at a slow boil. Well, this morning my #Facebook page could not have been any uglier. But, they were sly and sneaky about it. Kind of like a snake. You know the kind….”We don’t hate you, but we’re sure as hell gonna Judge the s$&@ out of you!”. Or, my personal favorite, “it’s ok to be Gay. Just be celibate. We know it’s hard, but it’s doable.”

This HATE they disguise as Chistianity is far crueler and more toxic than any abuse I’ve seen. All these glass houses…Whatever. Hold your stones and answer the following question. When has your life ever been effected in a negative way by someone in the LBGT community? Honestly, please let me know. I doubt ever. Why? Because they are just like you and me. Why have you succumbed to being a bully; just because someone is different than you? Have you been on the other side of those taunts, abuse, hate? Doesn’t matter the reason: color, nationality, sexual orientation, shortest, tallest, over weight. I have. My children have.

It’s all the same: HATE. You can’t camouflage it with Christianity. This is not how my God treats people…we are all the same in His eyes. He loves and accepts us all.

Maybe the bullies and the haters should be worried.

If you have this HATE thing that you can’t get rid of…as far as I’m concerned for my life: BE NICE OR LEAVE!

Your Kids Won’t Hate Each Other…Forever

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These are my reasons. I absolutely cannot imagine life without them. Now, I’ll be brutally honest with you. When they were little…all of them…12, 11, 9, 1, & 1….They made me question my sanity….daily. The constant civil war that seemed to wage….”He’s looking at me!”, “He called me an Idiot!”, “He gave me a swirly!” .The Cap’t and I would look at each other at the end of the day, take a deep breath, and assure each other that this too would pass.

There is hope…Your kids won’t hate each other…forever.

And, pass it did…quickly. Now, as I watch all five of my kids play hoops together, laugh over a board game, or play practical jokes on one another I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with love and joy over the friendships that have been formed. My older boys, who are actually adults…give each other advice, hang out, and look out for one another. Those three little boys who couldn’t stand each other when they were little are now great friends.

If you are currently in the trenches of raising Littles. Please don’t wish it away. I know…I know the squabbling seems never ending, and you may pull some of your very own hair out, but this time is fleeting. It passes so fast. (Cliché I know) When they are at their loudest, and you are at your weakest…take a time out, give yourself a break. I promise they’ll still be there. (Probably pounding at your door)

They will eventually figure this friendship thing out, and when they do…Wow!!! Job well done, Mom!

Never Cut What You Can Untie

Never cut what you can untie

 

Never cut what you can untie.
Burning bridges, kicking down the ladder, closing doors…those are all pretty easy escapes, aren’t they? I know I’ve mastered them. When someone tears at our soul to the point of tears or anger we want out, and we want out fast. Often times our first reaction is to slam the door in their face without listening or giving the other person a chance. Without giving the relationship a chance. We base our entire relationship on that one turbulent moment. It’s such a knee-jerk reaction. You hurt me and I’m done with you. Forever.

Forever! Gone. In a flash. Time goes by and of course you second guess yourself; your rationale. But, if you’re stubborn like me you dig in a little deeper and applaud yourself for being RIGHT. Well, whatever!!! Can you even remember what the argument or issue was about? If you can I’m sure it seems trivial now. If you can’t…well, there ya have it.

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s experience. Maybe it’s the number of doors I closed in the past. Maybe it’s the fact that life is too damn short to be frivolously getting rid of the important people in our lives. I know one thing; this anger thing we carry around is a heavy burden.

I am much more willing to extend an open hand and reach out now. Humility and Grace have played a huge part in how I handle my relationships. I no longer feel the need to be right….it serves no purpose, honestly; except to add fuel to the fire. If each person spends their time voicing how “right” they are then no one is listening.

Listening is where it’s at.

Listening=Understanding.

Listening was/is a hard one for me. The old me used to listen to reply, and as soon as the other person shut their mouth I couldn’t wait to get MY words out. I promise I never heard a word they said simply because I wasn’t listening. This changed everything. And, Grace! What power that word holds. YOU have this power. Give it freely!! Give others and yourself forgiveness and mercy. Remember that no one is perfect, and that we are all fighting some kind of battle…depending on the day you don’t know what someone else is bringing to the table. Cut them a little slack.

Before you walk away next time; stop and think about the words that were said. I mean really think about where they were coming from. How was the other person really feeling? Were they coming from a place of anger, really? Or was it pain, hurt, sadness. If you take a step back it might change everything. Take a walk in their shoes. Ask them how they feel. And, then LISTEN.

Friends…reach out. Sometimes it takes patience. Sometimes it takes persistence. Sometimes it takes time for the other person to reach back. I’m learning that that is OK. Everyone deals with their emotions differently; in their own time.

I urge you to take a moment in the heat of anger to breathe; walk away; to just think. Do whatever calms you. Go for a run, have a glass of wine, take a nap. Then and only then think about your relationship. Not just this one moment, but all of the moments. And remember…Never cut what you can untie.

Your Home is Fragile

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Taking care of a house is pretty easy. Pay the bills, keep up with routine maintenance, basic cleaning, mow the yard every so often, and that’s pretty much it. Taking care of your Home…now that’s a different story. Your Home reaches beyond the walls of your house and encompasses all those you love. Your Home is fragile, and must be handled with utmost care.

My Home is my refuge…It’s where I can totally be myself, it’s where I snuggle with my children, have my morning cup of coffee, reconnect with my husband. Home is where my kids run in and out nonstop, laundry piles up, and someone is always hungry. Home is where a Tuba rattles the window, kids splash in the pool, and grown young men come home for dinner. Home is a proud phone call, dirty socks in the hall, and a fever that won’t budge. Home is tears of unbridled joy, tears of sheer madness, and tears of heartbreaking sadness. Home is where I shed the boundaries of the world around me.

I thought about that last sentence, and it occurred to me just how far my Home stretches.

Yes. This. Home is where I shed the boundaries of the world around me.

Home is not only the people we live with. Oh no, we are greater than that. Our hearts are bigger than that. It would be simple if we walked in our front doors at the end of the day and turned our emotions off. Truth is we are not made that way….Thank Goodness we are not made that way. Home is all of the people we are comfortable with…the people who love you no matter what…with make up or without, the friends who don’t point out that you’ve worn the same pair of yoga pants three days in a row, the friend who says “are you wearing that?”.  The people we can just be ourselves with. You know who I’m talking about. The friend who “just gets it”, the friend who always shows up no matter what time it is, your “ICE”, the person who brings chocolate, or the person who brings wine. It’s the Sweet Friend who just lost their beloved Daddy. It’s the Friend who’s at a turning point in her marriage. It’s the Friend worried about her Husband’s health. It’s the Friend who’s plate is so very full. Reach out to these Friends. Hold their hands, love them, let them know you’re there. These relationships are so special…they need nurturing and care just like those you live with.

I cannot stress to you how fragile your Home is. These are relationships that must be nurtured and protected like the most precious flower. These relationships cannot thrive without your attention, and you cannot thrive without them. Reach out to the family and friends in your Heart and Home…tell them you are there for them, laugh with them, cry with them, just be there for them.

xoxo
Amy

No More Blinders

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Do you ever lay your head on your pillow at night and wonder how you got there?  I mean really. Where did the last 12 hours go? How is it even possible that I blinked and the day is gone?  I know I’m not the only person that feels this way. Almost robotically I move through my day. One foot in front of the other, room to room, place to place, from one task to the next…strictly out of habit…checking things off my list.

Please don’t get me wrong…It has nothing to do with “loving” my life.  I have a wonderful life. I am a stay at home Mom…a job that I am the most proud of. I am married to a wonderful, kind, and loving man; my best friend. And, we have five kids who are incredible and individual, and amaze us every day.  Even with all of these blessings I like so many many other people have put on blinders to the joy and beauty that has been given to me in my everyday life.  Blinders to the Joy and Peace that comes from taking time to notice the simple things; the smallest of gifts I’ve been given. Everyday gifts.

Taking time to soak in the moments of my life, and be more aware…this will take a conscience effort on my part.  My blinders will have to come off…My eyes will have to be open.  Noticing the different shades of green on the landscape after a spring storm, the last drips of coffee into my morning cup, Pickle’s hair blowing across her face as she flies down the street on her Ripstick, the laughter from my boys as they wrestle, sweet loving texts from my husband, the smell of my garden’s first rose….These are just a few of my moments from yesterday.

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How much have I missed? No more! My blinders are coming off. This is it. This is my life. This is my NOW!! And, I will be living it with My Eyes Wide Open!

xoxo

Amy

All We Have is Now

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Where are your thoughts centered? On yesterday…the past; words you wished you’d said, steps you should have taken, choices you wish you’d never made. Or, are you looking to tomorrow…constantly thinking about something that doesn’t exist, worrying about the “what if’s” of tomorrow.

The only time we are guaranteed is right now…this very mine. And, by focusing on yesterday and tomorrow we are giving that away. I have really been preoccupied lately…well, this year 2015, with getting to the root of what brings me joy. True joy. Living in the moment has been one of the biggest changes that I have made, and one of the biggest challenges. When you are type A, move at 100 miles an hour, have “to do” lists for your “to do” lists this can be difficult. I’ll be honest I haven’t perfected it, but the times that I do it makes all the difference. I enjoy my husband and children more, I notice the subtle things about myself that make me a better person. I notice the most precious parts of my life. Like last night…I hung outside with the kids instead of unloading the dishwasher and folding clothes. I stopped. I breathed. I was present. (The dishes and clothes are still there 😁)

Yesterday happened, and I hope I will see tomorrow, but for now I’m just going to enjoy today.

xoxo

Amy

#liveauthentically #liveinthemoment #family #wecandohardthings #savor #mammalove #mindfulness #now

Monday…Crapdamnit!

 

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Well, Monday, you can just take yourself back where you came from. It’s not even 11am, and I am up to my eyeballs with enough…overwhelmed, crosseyed, heading back under the covers. White Flag!!!! How did that happen so quickly? The day started with such promise. On the way to school we talked about the countdown to summer, birthdays coming up…it was all smiles.

And, then….like a pimple on prom night Monday reared her ugly head. I promise you after I dropped the kids at school it was like a Monday death spiral of phone calls, dog crap, washing machine overflowage, and weight gain from the weekend.

Crapdamnit!! What makes Monday so special? Why is Monday the dumping ground of the week? Maybe it’s to say that if we can survive the carnage of Mondays then we deserve weekends. Who knows. All I know is that there are about 13 more hours left in this Monday, and it’s not lookin so pretty. #Isurrender #wecandohardthings #mondayssuck