Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some Other Beginning's End

One of my favorite songs in the late 90s was "Closing Time" by the band Semisonic. (Still is one of my favorites, now that I think about it.) It was just one of those songs that came out at the perfect time to really resonate with where I was in my life. I bet you probably have some songs like that too.

Closing time
One last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey or beer
Closing time
You don't have to go home but you can't stay here

This song always comes to mind whenever something in my life comes to an end. And today marks the end of the current round of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, so of course it's been in my head all day. Today's the day when so many of us are wrapping up our final posts of the challenge, and trying to decide where we go from here.

There have been some conversations among bloggers over the past month about what we will all do when the challenge is over. How much has the daily blogging changed us? Will we keep up the habits we've developed through the challenge, or will we revert to our previous selves?

I have to say that my perspective as a blogger is much different than it was a year ago when I completed my first UBC. When that challenge ended, I lost so much of the motivation that I thought I had gained, and almost immediately slipped back into my very undisciplined sporadic blogging. I think I had kind of burned myself out, and just couldn't keep it going.

I can't say with completely certainty what will happen as I move forward, but I can say that my motivation is different now. And this time I feel like even though it's time to leave this particular part of my life, it doesn't mean that I just have to go back to where I used to be.

So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend

Community means a lot more to me than it did a month ago. I still haven't had as much time to get as involved as I would have liked, but I have gotten a lot more involved with other bloggers than I ever did before. I've discovered some great people, and some excellent blogs. And I've definitely found some friends.

Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Endings can be (and often are) sad. Or scary. Or confusing. Or, at the very least, filled with uncertainty. But like I've said before, it's all about where we choose to put our focus. And if we accept that when one phase of our lives ends it usually just means that it's time for the next phase to begin, it can make things a little easier.

So what do you do when you come to an ending? Do you just "go home" to what's familiar, or do you look for something new? Did you make connections along the way, or did you keep to yourself and miss out on the rewards of new friendships? Do you focus on what's ending, or look ahead to what's beginning?

I for one am happy to be moving forward, and ready to see what new exciting challenges come next. I hope you are too. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

LML Monday - Spell Check, Chai Tea, and Olympic Fever

Welcome to the latest installment of LML Monday! (If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.)

Yes, my friends, it's Monday. Time once again to reflect on the little (or big) things that made us happy over the past week and reminded us how much we love our lives. And, of course, now's the time to set the tone for a great week to come!

Spell Check
I come from a long line of self-admitted grammar snobs. Add to that the fact that I have a BS in technical writing, and it's probably easy to understand why I get a little uppity about language now and then. (I honestly do try to be nice about it, but every time someone uses non-words like "alot" or substitutes "your" for "you're" I die a little inside.)

But despite any proficiency that I may demonstrate with other aspects of the language, I have to be the first to admit that I cannot spell worth a darn. Never could. And it's been a source of some embarrassment over the years (particularly when I misspelled the word intelligent. Thought I'd never hear the end of that one.)

So needless to say, spell check is my friend. As a writer, I definitely do not miss the pre-word-processing days of having to look up every single word that I couldn't spell. Sure, some people might miss the pen and paper days, but I'll gladly trade them for the electronic age. Because now, not only do I have spell check, but for the times when that alone doesn't do it, I also have the Merriam-Webster web site just one click away, and the Dictionary.com app on my phone. Believe me when I say that these things have made my life SO much easier.

Chai Tea
This is a simple one, but it's one that never fails to make me happy. The smell alone always brings a smile to my face. And it's versatile - I can have a nice hot cup of tea in the morning, or a glass of iced tea in the afternoon (as I'm doing right now.) Add a little splash of milk and bit of Splenda, and it's a wonderful pick-me-up that always seems to help melt my worries away.

Olympic Fever
Ok, I guess technically I wouldn't call it fever - I'm not obsessive like some people are. But that sounded a bit catchier than "I enjoy watching some of the Olympic games" so I took a little creative license. It's my blog. I can do that. :)

One of my favorite thing about watching the games is that now I can do it with a DVR. In the past we were kind of stuck with whatever we could be home to catch. But I love that now I can just record everything as they show it, and watch whichever events I want. Plus, the hours and hours of cycling are much more entertaining if you watch them in fast-forward.

But the best thing about this year's games it that this is the first time I've been able to watch it with my kids. (During the last games my son was two and my daughter was an infant, so they didn't care even a little bit.) Even now my son hasn't been too interested in anything they've shown so far, but my daughter has been loving it. It's been so much fun watching with her and answering all of the questions she comes up with about each event, and about the country that each athlete is from. We had some great mommy/daughter fun time over the weekend.

Now it's your turn. Please feel free to share some of your recent LML moments. Focus on the happy times, and have a great week!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Little Sisters

I mentioned last week how awesome big brothers can be. Of course not to be outdone, my daughter reminded me a few days later that little sisters are pretty great too.

My son woke up one morning complaining of a tummy ache. (Not to worry - he's fine. It was just one of those icky, "I don't feel good" kind of mornings.) After trying and failing to get him to eat anything for breakfast, I persuaded him to snuggle up on the couch to rest and recuperate.

I got him settled in with his blanket and pillow, and some cartoons on TV - all the things that are pretty much guaranteed to help an upset tummy. Trying to think of anything else that might help comfort him, I asked if he wanted his teddy bear.

As soon as he said "yes, please" in his tired, weak little voice, his sister (who had been hovering nearby just waiting for a chance to help) yelled "I'll go get it!" and ran upstairs faster than I've ever seen her go. When she returned, she gave her big brother his bear, and a loving sisterly hug to go with it.

It was definitely one of those proud-mommy moments, seeing how much my kids love and care for each other. It's true what I said before, that every girl should be lucky enough to have a big brother. But let's not forget that the boys who have little sisters are pretty lucky too. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Bright, Sunshiny Me

Today I come to you as a very flattered me, as I once again find Fun Fact Friday coinciding with a blogger award. This time I have been honored with The Sunshine Award, an award given to "bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere." And since positively and creatively inspiring people has always been a main goal of mine here, I am thrilled to see that it seems to be working.

I'm doubly honored to have been given this award by not just one but two of my very favorite bloggers - Miss Riki of Refreshingly Riki, and Cheri of Idle Chatter. I know I've mentioned both of them on here before, but if you haven't checked them out yet, please do! (I can't stress that enough. They're both awesome!)

And now for the "rules" of the award:
  • Post the award along with a link back to the person who gave the nomination
  • Answer the questions below
  • Nominate 10 fellow bloggers for the award and link to their site
  • Comment on your nominees' blogs to let them know you're sharing the love with them
Fairly straightforward, right? So here goes:

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Oddly, I don't actually have one. You'd think I would, what with me being all quasi-philosophical and all, but no. I actually don't really know much about any of them. I always really wanted to take a philosophy class in school, but it just never fit into my schedule. I wouldn't mind adding some books on the subject to my reading list, though. If you know of any good ones, please feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments section.

What is your favorite number?
Again, I don't really have one. My go-to number has always been 27. (I never really thought of it as a "favorite" but I guess it's as close as any number comes for me.) It's just the number that always gets thrown out when you have to come up with a random number off the top of your head. Like when you're saying something like "I'm so exhausted I could sleep for, like, 27 hours."

What is your favorite animal?
That all depends on the situation. Favorite animal to own? Fish. (They're fairly low maintenance, compared to most other pets.) Favorite animal to see at the zoo? Monkeys are usually the most entertaining, but I'm also a sucker for panda bears. Favorite animal to eat? Growing up in Texas we were all about the cow, but now I'm more of a chicken person, with the occasional pig. ('Cause, you know. Bacon.)

What are your Facebook and Twitter URLs?
While I do have a personal presence on Facebook, sadly The Bright Side does not yet have a fan page. Nor do I tweet. But now that I'm finally beginning to grow and expand a bit more, perhaps those will be some of my next steps. I'll keep you posted.
Update (as promised): The Bright Side is now on Facebook! You can find my fan page here.
What is your favorite time of day?
Late at night, after the kids are asleep and the house is finally quiet. It's the only real "me time" I ever get.

What was your favorite vacation?
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, October of 2001. My husband and I spent most of the week lounging by the pool or under a beach umbrella drinking margaritas and pina coladas. It was the most relaxed I've ever been in my life.

What is your favorite physical activity?
Over the past year or so I've really bonded with my elliptical machine. It's a great workout, and I always feel incredible when I'm done.

What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?
Other than water, I probably drink more tea than anything. Sometimes hot, and sometimes iced. It's all good.

What is your favorite flower?
Sorry, but I can't pick just one. I love roses, because they're elegant, and beautiful, and have a lovely scent. But they don't live very long once you cut them, and that always makes me sad. I also love carnations, mostly because of their texture, and because they outlive most other flowers (so the joy lasts longer.) I also absolutely love daisies. If flowers could emote, I think they would be the happiest.

What is your passion?
My kids are at the top of my list, of course. (If you've read any of my previous posts, you probably already know that.) Being a mom is my most important job, and my favorite reason for being. It's exhausting, and sometimes frustrating, but it's always a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.

And now, to pass along The Sunshine Award to some other great bloggers. (I hope you'll check them out too.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Never Know What You'll Find

As I mentioned yesterday, I got a very good reminder about my need to be a little more flexible and spontaneous, thanks to an impromptu visit to the park with my kids. I realized that I had fallen into the tired-parent routine of saying no to my kids without really considering their request, and my reconsideration was rewarded with a fun day (and lots of happy smiles.)

But there was more to it. As I watched the kids on the swings ("Look at me, Mommy! Look how high I can go!") I was approached by a young man who explained that his church group and another local non-profit organization had teamed up for a summer program which included, among other things, the daily snacks that they were giving away at the park. 

The guy was very nice, and urged me to please bring the kids over to their table before we left the park. I tried to be polite, but I still just gave him a kind of non-committal "Sure. Thanks." The back of my mind was already kicking around polite ways to refuse the offer. (Why exactly are they doing this? What do they want? Am I always this distrustful?)

Finally, having another internal conversation about whether I had any valid reason to say no, I realized that I didn't. So I pointed out the booth, and told the kids that if they asked nicely they might have a treat. And to their great surprise they were rewarded with animal crackers and chocolate milk. (Score!) Talk about happy kids, to get such an unexpected and yummy surprise.

As he gave the kids their snack, the young man told me about the rest of the program, which also included the dinner that they would be serving later in the evening. (And, like the snack, it was free for all kids under 18.) I thanked him for the info, and said it sounded really nice, but that we really needed to be heading home.

So he gave me a flyer about the program, and suggested that maybe we could come back for dinner if we weren’t busy. I said sure, we’d think about it (not really intending to give it a whole lot of thought.) Then we thanked him for the snacks and headed home.

But as I drove away, I did start to think about it. And once again I asked myself if there was really any reason not to accept the offer. I hadn’t really made any plans for dinner yet. We needed to go home and rest a bit (and cool off a bit) but there really wasn’t any reason that we couldn’t go back to the park later in the evening.

So once again I agreed, and once again the kids were thrilled. I was happy to get out of cooking for the night, and the kids were happy to get the adventure of having a picnic dinner at the park. And of course more play time after they finished eating.

As the day came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect about everything that had happened. If I hadn’t agreed to stop at the park, we never would have known about the snacks. If we hadn’t accepted the snacks, we never would have known about dinner. And we would have missed out on a really great evening.

I have to wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on over the years because I was too closed-off to accept the opportunity. There is no point in dwelling on that thought, of course, but I do want to let the concept sink in, if only to serve as a reminder to be more open in the future. Whether it’s a picnic in the park, or a new friend, or a job opportunity, or any other great adventure, I hope that from now on I will be a little more open to the possibilities that life has to offer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Say Yes Now and Then

I don't know about you, but I sometimes get really stuck in my routines. There are too many things to do, and not enough time. Plans have to be made, and schedules have to be followed. Deviations are distracting. I hear myself saying "I don't have time for this." But what I'm really saying is that I'm closing myself off from the life that's going on all around me.

Luckily, every now and then I catch myself, and instead of saying that I don't have time, I realize that there's no reason that I can't make the time. And I always end up being so glad that I did.

Yesterday the kids and I were just finishing up some errands when they realized that we were near the park and asked if we could go play. I almost said no, quickly scanning through all the reasons to do so. I was tired. It's summertime in Arizona, so it's always too hot out. We weren't really dressed to go play in the sand.  And (the worst one of all) we hadn't planned to go to the park that day.

I cringed when I heard that last excuse go through my head. And then I scolded myself for having thought it in the first place. (They're kids. They want to stop and have a little fun.) So I quickly reassessed to see if I actually had any valid reasons to say no. I decided that I could get over being tired, and that clothes can be washed, so not being "dressed for it" was ok. The heat really is a valid concern, but a glance at the car's thermometer showed me that it was actually about ten degrees cooler than it has been lately, so we could realistically go out without being in any immediate danger.

After this quick internal conversation I explained that we couldn't stay long (because the heat would eventually get us) but that yes, we could go play for a little while. This of course was met with all of the cheers and claps and other sounds of joy that always make me smile and remind me that this, right here, is what being a parent is all about. These little moments of spontaneous fun beat out anything that I could have planned.

Of course, there are times when we as parents have to say no. We can't always give our kids everything their little hearts desire, even when we'd like to. That's just the harsh reality of life. But the sad part, as I was reminded yesterday, is that saying no almost becomes the natural reaction. We get so wrapped up in our adult lives with our adult problems that we automatically start blocking out other important things... like stopping to realize that sometimes there's really no reason to say no.

After all, if I hadn't agreed to stop and play, I would have missed out on this moment. And that, my friends, would have been tragic.

There's actually a part 2 to this story, with another equally important lesson that I learned. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion. :)

Update: You can now find part 2 of the story here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

LML Monday - Cloud Pictures, Flowers, and Flax Seed

Welcome to the latest installment of LML Monday! (If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.)

Cloud Pictures
I don't know about you, but I've always loved finding pictures in the clouds. It's fun, and relaxing, and a good exercise for your imagination. And of course my kids love doing it too. (I don't think I've ever met anyone with imaginations like theirs.)

I remember the first time my son pointed out a cloud picture. He was barely over a year old, and hardly talking at all, but one day as we were out driving he started yelling "Piggy! Piggy! Mommy, piggy!" I couldn't do much while I was driving, so I started asking questions to try to figure out what he was talking about. Finally I got him to explain "Piggy in sky!" And sure enough, there was a cloud pig outside his window.

I was recently reminded of this, as I often am when the kids start pointing out the latest pictures they see. As we were driving yesterday my daughter suddenly said "Mommy, look - the cloud is making a duck. Or maybe a rhinoceros." Because, you know, the two are often confused. But finally she decided that it was actually a new creature with the body of a dinosaur and the head of a duck with a rhino horn on its beak. And the best part was, that made perfect sense. :)

Flowers are pretty, and they always make me smile. And it really makes me smile whenever I look out at the front of my house and see that all of the bushes are blooming (including this one, with the beautiful purple flowers.)

The summer in Arizona may be miserably hot, but at least we have plants that are adapted to it. And I never realized it until they started blooming, but there are a lot of these plants used in the landscaping in our neighborhood, and throughout the whole town. So I get to enjoy these lovely purple blooms wherever I go.

Flax Seed
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the health benefits of flax seed. And while I can't necessarily verify any of those specific claims personally, I can say that I've really noticed a difference in how I've been feeling since I added it to my diet. 

For the past week or so I've been adding ground flax seed to my yogurt at breakfast. (While it's true that it doesn't change the flavor, it does change the texture. That takes a little getting used to, but it's really not that bad.) And I noticed almost immediately that this little addition has made a huge difference in my appetite. I've felt much more satisfied after breakfast, which left me less hungry throughout the day, and much less prone to snacking. This, in turn, has made me feel better, which has made me much happier.

I'll definitely be looking for new and exciting ways to add this to my diet. If anyone has any favorite recipes or tricks, please feel free to share!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

More Quirky Drivers

Last year I wrote a post about those annoying drivers that can't seem to handle the idea of people getting in front of them. While I still don't agree with that way of thinking, at least I kind of get the motivation. (Some people have to be first, and can't stand the idea of anyone else being in front.) But yesterday I actually had someone do the exact opposite (but equally ridiculous) thing to me. And I completely don't get it.

The guy next to me had been pacing me for quite some time. I didn't give it much thought, until I saw my turn coming up and needed to get into his lane. Since there was nobody behind him, and since I had no reason to be one of those people who has to speed up just to get in front, I let off the gas a bit so I could start slowing down to get behind him. (The polite thing to do, right?)

But apparently my politeness was misplaced, because the guy kept pacing me. (I swear I'm not making this up.) So after a little while I took my foot completely off the gas so I could slow down a little more rapidly. I had to turn, after all. But yes, the car next to me still stayed right next to me. Finally I had to actually hit my breaks in order to slow down enough to get him to pass. As soon as he passed I moved over behind him, and I bet you'll never guess what he did. Yep. He sped up. Zoomed ahead, actually.

And all I could say was, "... Seriously?!" Not only do some people have to be so competitive as to not let anyone else even appear to have an advantage, but it also seems that there are those who just don't like the idea of other people getting what they want or need, regardless of whether or not it affects anyone else at all.

What drives people to this way of thinking? I have no idea. But it does make me sad to think of someone actually spending energy to make someone else's life more difficult for no other reason than just to be difficult. I mean, the saying "live and let live" may have become a cliche, but it does have a point. We don't always have to get involved in others' lives. But when we do get involved, shouldn't it be with the hope of making their lives better, rather than more difficult? I'd sure like to think so.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun Fact Friday - Shower Writing, Ice Cubes & Poohbear

Welcome to our second installment of Fun Fact Friday! Friday's should be celebrated. And alliterations are fun.

So here is my random bit of sharing for today:

I do my best writing in the shower.
Ok, so I can't actually write it down while I'm in there, but I typically do most of my composing in my head anyway. When I come up with an idea, I just play around with it for a while before I actually put fingers to keyboard, so most of my "rough draft" work is done before I do the actual physical writing. I've had some great ideas while washing dishes or doing other housework, but inevitably my best work always comes to me in the shower.

Anyone else out there like that? Where do you do your best work?

I almost always put an uneven number if ice cubes in my glass.
I'm not talking about crushed ice, or the little cubes you get in a fountain drink. (It's not an OCD thing, so stuff like that doesn't bother me.) I'm just talking about regular ice cubes that come out of my freezer at home.

For some reason when I was a kid I decided that ice "works better" in a drink if there are an uneven number. It had something to do with how it falls when you're trying to drink, and whether it hits you flat in the mouth and blocks the drink or shifts out of the way so it's not intrusive. It was all very unscientific. But it just became this habit that still sticks today.

Care to share any of your more "unusual" habits?

I have a fairly awesome Poohbear collection.
I've always loved Winnie the Pooh, with his kindness, and caring, and sunny-side-up attitude. My love grew in my late teens when I read Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, which really helped me to start expanding my world view. (Great book, by the way. I highly recommend it.)

My collection started small, but it didn't take long before family and friends started adding to it. (I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that most of them still automatically think of me when they see anything having to do with Poohbear.) And now I have pieces all over my house, from the toys and books to the tea cups and cookie cutters to these oh-so adorable slippers that I wear proudly every winter. And believe me when I say that I will never be too old to wear them. :)

What sorts of things do you collect? How did it all start?

Thanks for stopping by! Come back next week 
for some more Fabulous Friday Fun! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Big Brothers

Sure, sometimes they're a pain. Sometimes they spit in your hair, or trick you into thinking that the remote control only works when you're standing up. (You know who you are!) But despite all that, I still maintain that big brothers are pretty great to have.

And once again, my kids have managed to illustrate my point perfectly. Just as we were getting ready to go out today my daughter got tangled up in her feet and fell down, smacking her knees right on the tile floor. She screamed. She cried. She swore that she was "never going to be able to walk again!" She's fine, of course, but it was all very dramatic.

Luckily her big brother was right there. He tried all of the usual comforting techniques first (giving her a sympathetic hug, offering to get her an ice pack) but nothing was working. Then he moved on to the comedic route, which usually does the trick. Unfortunately the jokes didn't even work this time. So he moved on again.

I've never seen him do it before, and I don't know what inspired it, but my six-year-old son proceeded to perform an entire slap-stick routine, complete with hilarious pratfalls, all over the living room. It took less than a minute of it for his sister's sobs to turn into laughter, but he kept going for several more minutes (obviously enjoying the laughs as much as I was.)

I've always said that every girl should have a big brother. I feel so blessed knowing that my daughter has such a great one.

Didn't You See My Post?

Like I've said before, I believe that embarrassing moments should be shared, if for no other reason than to make you feel better about yourself. And to let you know you're not alone (because I would bet that I'm not the only one to be in a situation like this.)

You know how we all have Facebook friends, and then we have Facebook "friends." The people that you worked with, or went to school with, and you were never really friends but you were in the same club or on the same committee so when they sent you a friend request you kind of felt like you had to accept. And it's not like you didn't like them or anything, but it didn't take very long to realize that you really had nothing in common, and you didn't care about any of the stuff they were posting. You couldn't unfriend them, because that would be awkward, so you just hid them from your news feed. Yes, I'm talking about those "friends."

The other day I was out running some errands with the kids, and I ran into one of these "friends" at, of all places, the mall food court. (One of those places where you have no escape, so you're kind of obligated to talk to anyone who stops at your table.) So we had the "long time no see, what have you been up to?" conversation.

At one point, she mentioned her son, to which my first thought was 'oh, I didn't know she had a son.' (Of course I hadn't seen her in several years, so that made sense.) I almost spoke that thought aloud, but fortunately for once my brain decided to work a little bit faster than my mouth, and pointed out to me that she had probably mentioned it a time or two on Facebook. ('Oh, yeah! We're Facebook friends.') Ooops. That would have been awkward!

It's not just me, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cutes & Ladders

No, that isn't a typo. My kids found a way to make the game even more fun (and I can't resist a good play on words.)

I was going through some old pictures recently, and came across these. I took them about a year ago, not long after my kids had gotten really into playing Chutes & Ladders. They were having fun, but eventually even they started to see the monotony of the game. So they decided to spice it up a bit and replace the little cardboard pieces that came in the box with some of their other little toys. They tried a few different ones, but finally decided that these worked the best.

Once again, without even realizing it, my kids have managed to share a great allegory of life's ups and downs. Or, more specifically, how to deal with those ups and downs without getting bored or frustrated.

Because doesn't life sometimes feel like a giant game of Chutes & Ladders? We struggle to get ahead, toiling away with all our might, only to get smacked down by a hefty dose of reality. We do this again and again, sometimes dealing with little set-backs, and sometimes falling so far that we can start to wonder if we're ever going to get back up again.

So when we start to get bored or the game isn't going our way, we can either let our frustration get the better of us, or we can find a new way to play. And sometimes just a little change is all it takes.

Not Always Perfect

I heard something incredibly profound yesterday, and it really made me stop and think. I was halted partially because of the words themselves, but mostly because they came from my six-year-old.

Over the weekend we went out to one of our favorite restaurants, and prior to the meal the kids had been enjoying the activities and making some brilliant crayon art on their placemats. Both kids brought home their masterpieces, as they usually do, so that they could continue to add to them and admire them as necessary.

Yesterday as they compared pages, my daughter seemed a bit disturbed by the fact that her connect-the-dot picture had not turned out exactly like her brother's. (Being two years older, he had been somewhat better able to follow the numbers exactly, whereas she had gotten a little more abstract.)

She had also pointed this out when the drawings were first completed, and before my husband or I could even say anything, her brother was right there to reassure her. After telling her that he really liked her drawing, and seeing that she still wasn't convinced that she shouldn't feel bad, he said "I know! Mine is the best at following the numbers, and yours is the best at being creative!" Finally she decided to accept his reasoning, and the evening moved on. (What he said then was good, but it gets even better.)

This time, she was having a little more trouble being convinced that what she saw as a mistake was really ok, and seemed on the verge of getting very frustrated that she hadn't drawn the picture "exactly right." After many failed reassurances, my son paused, thought for a minute, and finally said "Well, even when things don't go right they can still be good."

My daughter was appeased. I was amazed (and more than a little proud.) What incredible wisdom coming from a child. Thinking back, I can remember so many times throughout my life that I was frustrated, or worse, when things didn't go "right" according to my perception or prejudgments. How much easier those times would have been if I had looked past the not right and instead saw only the good.

Don't get me wrong. There are those times when it is important to be as precise as possible, and I'm not endorsing doing intentionally inferior work just because it doesn't have to be perfect. Some mistakes need to be fixed, and if we can we absolutely should.

But there are also those times when it really doesn't matter if we follow precise instructions, or if the results exactly fit the preconceived notions. Perhaps those are the times when we should step back, cut ourselves a little slack, and look past the "not right" until we can see the good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When Good Things End

My son has been going through this phase lately where as soon as he is done with something, his first reaction is "I want more!" Depending on what it is, sometimes there is more to be had and there's no reason not to, so I can accommodate. Other times the answer is no. Those times are not as easy.

So we've been working a lot lately on the idea of appreciating what you have (or have had) rather than being upset that you don't (or can't) have more. It's not the easiest concept to understand when you're six, but to his credit he's really making an effort.

Fittingly, I was reminded just last night that I need to take my own advice, as I watched the series finale of Eureka and had to say goodbye to one of my favorite shows. It's been a good five years, but apparently the Syfy channel had to make room for more shows about lost things and haunted places, so Eureka had to go.

I am, like many others, sad to see the show end. It was smart, and funny, and quirky, and a heck of a lot of fun, and I would have loved to see it go on for at least a few more years. But it's not the first good show to be cancelled before its time (Ah-hem... Firefly, anyone?) nor will it be the last. Sadly, that's just the way things work.

Sure, I'm sad that something I loved has come to an end. It's a natural reaction. (As soon as your vacation is over, don't you wish it could have lasted longer? After a fun night out with your friends, don't you wish you could do it again tomorrow?) Nobody likes to see the good things end.

But we can spend our time being upset that it's gone, or we can choose to focus on being glad that we had it while we did. Like I suggested to my son just this afternoon... instead of being upset that Grandma can't stay and visit longer, how about if we be happy that at least she got to join us for lunch? (Luckily he agreed, and we were able to happily go about the rest of our day.)

It's ok to be sad when something you love ends. It's ok to be disappointed. But try not to be one of those people who lets the disappointment overwhelm the entire situation. Instead, try to appreciate the good times that you had, and remember that there will be more good times to be had in the future.

If a six-year-old can do it, we can too!

Monday, July 16, 2012

LML Monday - Tickle Fights, Rain, and BBQ Chicken

Good morning! And welcome to our first installment of LML Monday - the place where we will come to share some things that made us happy over the past week. What made us laugh? What made us smile? What made our lives better? In general, let's talk about things that reminded us how much we love our lives. (If you missed my stance on "LML" you can catch up here.)

Why LML Monday? Partly because I thought it had a nice ring to it, and partly because I figured it would work well with Fun Fact Friday to sort of frame the week. But mostly because Mondays have always kind of gotten a bad rap. Wednesdays have "hump day" going for them, and Friday starts the weekend, but collectively we always moan about "another $*&@! Monday."

So rather than fall into the "it sucks to be Monday" mentality, I figured we could use the time to focus on the happy instead, and set the tone for a great week to come. Who's with me? So here goes, a few things this week that reminded me how much I LML:

Tickle Fights
This seems to be a favored activity around my house, particularly on the weekends. Sometimes I start them, and sometimes the kids do, but we all inevitably get sucked in. There is nothing quite as contagious as my kids' laughter. If you have the chance, I highly recommend engaging in a tickle fight. It is absolutely impossible to be anything but happy while doing so.

We've been getting quite a bit of rain over the past couple of weeks. (I know, "quite a bit" is relative, but in Arizona any rain is cause for celebration.) Despite the negative effects that the changing barometric pressure has on the chronic pain issues, I still love it. I love the sound of it, and the smell of it, but most of all I really love seeing the sky turn that beautiful shade of grey.

BBQ Chicken
Ok, it wasn't actually the chicken itself that made the moment so great (although it was quite tasty, if I do say so myself.) It was actually my kids' reaction to the chicken. One evening last week my kids asked the inevitable "what's for dinner?" question, and when I told them what I was making they both shouted, in perfect unison, "BBQ Chicken?! Yea!" It was adorable, and completely made my day.

And now it's your turn! What were some of your recent LML moments?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mommy Needs a Xanax

By now you know enough about me to know that I absolutely love being a mom. My kids mean the world to me, and I love them with all of my heart. And as a "full time mom" they are, as literally as you can get with something like that, my whole world.

And by now you also know that my kids are, generally speaking, quite awesome. They are smart, and sweet, and loving, and kind, and make me proud every day that I am their mom. But then there are those times that I'm forced to remember that even the best kids aren't always angels, and that even the best moms aren't always perfect.

The only thing I wanted today was a nice family dinner. With my husband's work schedule it isn't often that all four of us are together in the evenings, so when we are I do my best to make something that we can all enjoy so that we can all sit together and relax, and enjoy each other's company. Usually it goes well.

But tonight, one of them didn't like the fish (even though she loved it last time we had it) and one of them didn't like the rice (even though he loved it last time we had it.) And you would have thought it was the end of the world that I made fresh strawberries for dessert instead of something more exciting like ice cream. (Can you believe my gall?)

Needless to say, dinner wasn't at all what I had envisioned (what with the crying and the fit-throwing, and the Angry Mommy.) But we did eventually pull ourselves together and get through it. After the wiping of the tears and the taking of many deep breaths, both kids (having reconsidered their stance on things) thanked me several times for making such a nice dinner, and apologized profusely for bringing out the aforementioned Angry Mommy.

Do I feel bad for getting angry with the kids? Of course. Will it happen again? ... Unfortunately I'm sure this wasn't the last time. Will I be a little more prepared for it next time and control my temper better? I certainly hope so. Because I have no doubt that the kids genuinely felt bad for how they acted tonight. But I am equally sure that it won't be their last mistake.

Life is a process. And hopefully for all of us it is a process of learning and growing, and never-ending positive changes. Sometimes we need reminders, and sometimes those reminders are less-than-pleasant. If you're a parent, I'd bet good money that you've had moments like this of your own. And if you haven't yet, you will. Just try not to let them get you down, and remember that none of us are perfect, and even great kids have their monster moments.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Thing About Glitter...

When my daughter and I painted our nails last week I let her pick out the polish. She picked what seemed like a nice pale pink, so was on board. But you know how sometimes what you see in the jar isn't exactly what you get when you put it on? This was one of those times.

As I painted, I realized that the polish had a bit of a sparkle to it. I went with it anyway, deciding that there was nothing wrong with a thirty-something woman having slightly sparkly nails now and then. It wasn't until I began to remove the polish this morning that I discovered the problem. For you see, that little hint of sparkle was actually silver glitter. Yep. There was glitter mixed into my nail polish.

Those of you that know me personally already know how I reacted when I realized this. It was something to the effect of "AAAAAAA!!! THERE'S GLITTER ON MY FINGERS AND IT'S NEVER  EVER EVER GOING TO COME OFF!!!!!!!" Yeah... I didn't take it well.

Why do I hate glitter so much? Because, as the saying goes, glitter is the herpes of craft supplies. All it takes is one exposure. And than, for the rest of your life, no matter how hard you try you can never, ever get red of it. Don't believe me? I accidentally touched some glitter back in 1982, and I'm pretty sure there's still a little bit of it in my hair.

Now, you know me - I'm not one to rant about something just for the sake of ranting. I'm the one that came up with a bright side to having kidney stones, right? I can find a bright side to anything. There had to be something. Just one small glimmer of hope. I wracked my brain all day. But it's glitter we're talking about... so I had nothing.

Finally I found it, and now I think I simply must have a print of it for my craft room. This picture is the only thing about glitter that has ever made me smile. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Feeling Fabulous

So my plan for today was to launch my first themed day: Fun Fact Friday (because it has a nice ring to it, and sounded like fun.)

Now imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I received notification that I've been honored by a fellow blogger with the Fabulous Blog Ribbon. (Delighted because it is always wonderful to be recognized by other bloggers, but also because the "rules" of the award fit perfectly with the launch of Fun Fact Friday.) I always love it when things in my life just seem to click into place and support each other.

The award (which came to me from Midnight Musings - I hope you'll go check her out) says that I must now share with you 5 Fabulous Moments, 5 Likes, 5 Dislikes (aka "fun facts") and 5 Fabulous Bloggers. So here goes:

5 Fabulous Moments (in chronological order)
Margaritas on the beach in Mexico
Marrying my best friend
Hearing my kids' heartbeats for the first time
Graduating from College
Getting the keys to our first house

5 Things I Love (in no particular order)
When kids laugh
Having other mom friends
Books, books, books!

5 Things I Dislike (again in no particular order)
"Reality" Shows
Constant Complainers
Closed minds
Things that don't work like they're supposed to

5 Fabulous Bloggers (in alphabetical order)
This one was tough to narrow down, so I'm just going to share some of my most recent discoveries that I've been enjoying.
Around the World in a Lifetime
Brighter Horizons: My little piece of Earth
Idle Chatter: Random thoughts on life
My Inspired Life With Fibromyalgia
The Daily Hottentots: little drops of wisdom from someone who isn't so wise

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heartwarming Moments

As much as I try to not let my chronic pain get me down, and try not to let my distress show around others if I can help it, there are times when it's hard to miss, especially by those who know me well. And for my kids, who are 4 and 6 and fairly intuitive, understanding "Mommy's owies" has just always been a part of their daily life.

I always reassure them that Mommy is okay, so that they don't worry, but they have also had to grow up knowing that there are times when I have to rest, and there are times when they have to be very gentle with me. To their credit, they are always very understanding, and do everything they can to be helpful when I encounter my own limitations. And they give outstanding gentle hugs.

This week has been a particularly painful one, thanks in large part, I'm sure, to the weather. (Any time there is a change in barometric pressure the pain tends to increase, so the summer storms here in Arizona are always a fun time.) I've been doing my best to manage, and the kids have been doing their best to do anything they can to help.

And in their infinite sweetness, they decided to throw me a party. As my son explained it, "We know you've been having a hard time lately, so we wanted to cheer you up." ... You know those moments when your heart feels like it swells up to the point of bursting? Yeah, this was one of them. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly tender and caring children so young can be.

Of course the party also included presents. They had managed to get into my stash of gift bags and tissue paper, and wrapped (in that beautiful way that only kids can) several of their own toys as their gifts to me. To see how casual they were about the whole thing, it would seem like they had hardly done anything at all. But to me, at that moment, it was everything.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Can't See My Pain

I know I touched on this once before, but after today's events I feel compelled to say more.

The kids and I made a trek to Costco today to stock up on a few needed items. If you've ever shopped at a warehouse store before, you know how tiring it can be. Now imagine doing that while also suffering from chronic pain. After lifting so many large boxes and containers into the cart, then onto the conveyor belt at checkout, I was almost at my limit. And it was very nearly all I could do to lift each item once again into my car.

With the last box finally loaded, I climbed gingerly into my seat, wincing and gritting my teeth at the stab of pain that tore through my back with each movement. As I settled in with a sigh and started the engine, I saw a man pass in front of my car. As he did so, he turned, looked straight into my face, and gave me the dirtiest look I can ever remember being subjected to. It felt like I had been slapped. There was no need to guess what he was thinking, as his expression clearly gave it away: How dare you park there?!

For you see, I was parked in a reserved disabled parking space. And I was parked there not only because my license plate gives me the legal right to park there, but also because I very much had the need to do so today. There are days when the pain is somewhat less, and I'm glad to park a little farther away and get the exercise that the longer walk provides. But there are also days like today, when each step is a struggle and I am eternally grateful that I can park a little closer.

To look at me, particularly if I am sitting still and not attempting to lift or bend or walk or grasp something or any of the other activities that cause pain, I suppose I look like a normal, healthy, thirty-something woman. All of my injuries and deformities ("disabilities" if you like) are internal, and none of them cause any noticeable physical symptoms. I'm not in a wheel chair, and apart from the foot brace that I sometimes have to wear, I don't require any assistive devices. As difficult as my life with chronic pain has been, I count my blessings every day that I have it as good as I do.

But there is another side to it. Being disabled, but not "looking" disabled, means that I am judged - often very harshly - by complete strangers who know nothing about me. I've gotten the dirty looks before, and I've been openly (and loudly) ridiculed. And I'd like to think that I've developed a bit of a thick skin and can turn the other cheek. But as I discovered today, these angry, hate-filled looks can still hurt.

As I left the parking lot, trying my best to not let this man's unnecessary anger get to me, I passed him again just as he reached his own car. His icy glare stabbed me once again before he shook his head with a very obvious look of disgust. And as sad as it makes me to say it, I couldn't hold back the tears. His open hostility brought back too many painful memories of judgment and ridicule that I have received over the past 20 years. All because I don't "look" disabled.

Yes, what happened to me today hurt, but more than anything it made me incredibly sad. Not just for myself and my hurt feelings, but because I know that I'm not the only one who has ever gone through something like this. It made me want to reach out to this man and ask him what had happened in his life that made him feel such a need to show me this kind of hatred. And to try to explain something about my situation, and to let him know that I would give almost anything to actually be the "normal" person that my appearance suggests I am. Of course I didn't reach out, because I was wounded, and I couldn't have handled the confrontation.

But now that the initial sting has passed, I am reaching out to all of you.

If you've ever been on the receiving end of this type of behavior, please know that you are not alone. It may not be much, but I hope you can take at least some comfort in the fact that someone else knows how you feel. (I know from experience what a difference that can make.)

And if you've ever been the perpetrator... I make no judgment, and I feel no anger toward you. I understand that we are each a product of our experiences, and you had reasons for acting the way you did. But please consider this: Pain is invisible. Just because you can't see anything different about someone doesn't mean that we are not suffering.  All I ask is that you try to remember this if you are ever again tempted to judge someone based solely on outward appearances.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Searching for Truth

As I mentioned once before, I kind of have a thing for Josh Gates. Mock if you must, but there's just something about him. (And now I know that I'm not alone. Don't believe me? Google "Josh Gates is hot" sometime, and see how many freaky fan sights and forums you find. And pictures. Lots and lots of great pictures.)

Anyway... I was understandably excited when I heard that Destination Truth was returning with all new episodes tonight. And of course, as I have a habit of doing lately, I started thinking more deeply about the show, and pondering some of life's more philosophical questions.

If you haven't seen the show, the premise is that Josh and his team travel all over the world searching for "the truth" about all sorts of mysterious animals/creatures that people have claimed to encounter. They do the whole serious investigative thing, researching the thing's background, talking to experts, interviewing witnesses, and then going out into the believed habitat with lots of expensive equipment and attempting to make contact.

Now, I've never actually seen an episode where they find any proof of anything that they are looking for. (They closest they've come, I think, is having some "unexplained" experiences.) But the show is still immensely entertaining. They're silly, and like to have fun, and they do good-naturedly poke some fun at some of the things they encounter - mostly the food and accommodations they have to deal with.  

But what I really like is that even with all of the joking and silliness, they still, for the most part, seem to take the investigations completely seriously. No matter how outlandish the claims may seem, Josh still interviews the witnesses with what at least appears to be complete honesty and interest in their story. And he and the team members always seem to be completely open to the possibility that they might actually encounter the Moroccan Succubus or the Guam Zombies (both of which were actual investigations.) 

How many of us could actually say that we approach life with that kind of open-mindedness? How quick are we to dismiss something just because it sounds "weird" or unbelievable? Do we go through life really wanting to know the truth about things, or are we happier using our preconceived notions to shield ourselves from anything that might be different or foreign to us? 

I may not be jetting off to any exotic locations any time soon, and I may not physically be up to some of the harrowing adventures that they have. But I hope that I can learn to be more like them, and always keep an open mind when it comes to the unknown. I think that will make it much more likely that I will recognize the truth - whatever it may be - when I see it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Record-Breaking Fun

This past Saturday my family and I had the opportunity to be part of an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest water gun fight. I know it sounds kind of silly, but tell me honestly... if you had the chance to do something like that, wouldn't you take it?

It was all part of my town's Independence Day celebration (which had to be rescheduled from the 4th because of rain. In Arizona. That was weird.) At first we hadn't thought much about going to the festival, because honestly braving the heat to be crammed into a park with thousands of other sweaty people didn't really excite me.

But then I read about the water gun fight. And it just seemed like one of those things that we had to do. Luckily, my husband jumped on board. He then proceeded to drag us all to the nearest toy store to "properly gear up."

Yes, after ten years of marriage, my husband can still surprise me. I had no idea how seriously he took his water gun fights. But he was clearly just as excited as the kids were (or possibly more.) And that, for me, was awesome.

The actual fight itself didn't last more than a few minutes. But the hour+ that we waited while everyone filed into the staging area and geared up was probably the most fun part. There was great camaraderie with the strangers-become-friends around us, and plenty of "friendly fire" as we all used our squirt guns to help keep each other cooled off in the sweltering Arizona heat.

The whole experience was, quite literally, a blast. (Please forgive the bad pun. I couldn't help myself.) And while the official record has not yet been verified by Guinness, our local ABC affiliate has reported that we did indeed break the record, with 3,804 people participating.

An interesting side note that I never knew before - only kids 7 and older are counted in the official number. (Nobody could tell me why - just that it was the rule.) But even though my kids didn't officially "count" on Saturday, they still had a great time. (And they honestly didn't care that they didn't get the wrist band - they were just happy to be there and excited to play with the squirt guns.)

So yes, water gun fights are fun. And yes, being part of a Guinness World Record is cool. But in the end, as always, it all really comes down to these two smiling faces.

And that, my friends, is what makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

S'mores Pops

When it's summertime in Arizona, we're always looking for fun indoor activities to do with the kids. This one is quick and easy, and quite tasty. (I can't take credit for the invention - I got the idea from my brother, who got it from my niece, who found it online.) After we made these I did look it up and found many variations on the recipe. But this is how we made them:

You need the same basic ingredients that you use for regular s'mores - graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. (I substituted chocolate chips for the typical chocolate bars because I think they tend to melt better.) Plus you'll need some type of sticks. We used lollipop sticks, found in the candy-making section of Walmart.

One minute in the microwave melts the chocolate perfectly. (No need for the double boiler, or any of the other more complicated methods you might read about.)

Crush the graham crackers using your preferred method. (I favor the Ziploc/hammer technique.) 

When you open the marshmallows, don't forget the most important step in the process - do a taste test to make sure they are top quality. :)

Once you are satisfied that your marshmallows are up to your standards, insert a stick into each one. (I simply put the marshmallows out on a cookie sheet and let the kids poke in the sticks.)

One at a time, dip the marshmallow into the chocolate,

and then dip it into the crushed graham crackers.

And there you have it! A tasty treat, and some happy kids.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Doesn't Kill Us

My dear friend and fellow blogger Miss Riki once wrote a post about her favorite quotes, and invited readers to share our own favorites. The quote that I submitted was "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." (Patches O'Houlihan, Dodgeball.)

After reading all of the other wise and philosophical quotes that she and the others had shared, I was afraid that mine came across as being flip and sarcastic. (Unfortunately that was made even more likely because I am known to be flip and sarcastic... sometimes.) But in this case, I promise you that I wasn't.

Sure, in all honesty it's one of my favorite quotes because Dodgeball is an awesome movie that cracks me up every time I watch it, and the whole dodging a wrench thing is funny. But more than that, it's one of my favorite quotes because of its much broader meaning. To me, it's simply a twisted modern take on Nietzsche: That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Which in my head I always translated as: If I can handle this, I can handle anything. Thus, if I can dodge a wrench I can dodge a ball.

And I've had to do my fair share of "dodging" (i.e. "handling") in my life, particularly as I have dealt with my health problems and chronic pain issues. (And if you or someone you know lives with chronic pain, you know that handling it can take a lot of work.) Some days are arguably better than others, but in all honesty, every day is a struggle.

This whole train of thought came to mind today, in fact, because I've been having one of "those" days. (The ones where the pain is especially insistent and demanding of my attention.) Those days, tragically and frustratingly, usually follow a particularly good day, as is the case right now. I spent a lovely day with my family yesterday, and because I was feeling good I was as active as possible. Today, my nerves and muscles have been paying me back for it.

It's tempting, sometimes, to get frustrated on a day like today. It would be easy to wallow in self-pity, or whine about how unfair it is. Or, I could look on the bright side. ... Which do you think I'm going to do? ;)

Yes, living in pain for nearly 20 years has been, to put it lightly, a challenge. But it has also taught me a great deal. And it has made me a stronger person. So I will continue to do my best every time to handle days like today without letting them get me down. And I'll be happy knowing that every time life throws a wrench at me, I'll be able to dodge it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red, White & Cute

Today is July 4th, which of course is the day that we in the United States celebrate our Independence Day. There are many traditions surrounding this holiday, most having to do with food and explosives. Sometimes parades. Sometimes festivals. Usually picnics or barbecues followed by fireworks.

But this year, in addition to the food and the festivities, my daughter and I have also started a new tradition.

We decided to express our patriotism with this adorable manicure. And of course we had to have the pedicure to go along with it.

I spent a fabulous, fun-filled day with my family today. (It was busy, and it was exhausting, but there were enough giggles and squeals to make every moment of it worthwhile.) But in the end, my favorite part of the entire holiday turned out to be sitting down for a mani/pedi with my 4-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best. Day. EVER!

There's a scene in the beginning of the movie Office Space where the main character is complaining about his job, and says that ever since he started working, every day has been worse than the day before. So that every day you see him, it's literally on the worst day of his life. To which his therapist replies "Whoa. That's messed up." (It's a funny scene, and it sets up the movie well... but can you imagine living like that?)

Now, if you know me at all, or if you've read any of my previous posts, you probably know that this is far from how I view my life. And fortunately I live in a household where the same is also true. Sure, we all have our ups and downs, and everybody has a rough day now and then. But spend any time around my children, and it will be clear that they subscribe to the same LML philosophy that I do.

Ever since he was old enough to articulate it, my son, after any particularly fun day, would tell me "Mommy, this was the best day ever!" And of course as soon as my daughter started talking she followed suit. So a trip to the beach, or a birthday party, or a day at our local indoor amusement park (or any such excitement) would  not surprisingly win the "best day ever" prize.

That in itself was awesome, and has always made me smile. But here's the best part: It didn't take long at all before it wasn't just the "big exciting days" that brought declarations of it being the best day ever. Doing little things like visiting Grandma, or playing at the park, or playing Hot Wheels with Daddy would prompt it. And now, all it ever really takes is for us to be together as a family, enjoying each other's company.

No matter what we've done all day, nearly every night as we sit down to dinner, at least one of the kids will still look up at me and say (casually, but with sincerity) "Mommy, this has been the best day ever." And I can promise you that I never, ever get tired of hearing that.

It amazes me (and makes me happier than I can find the words to express) to have six- and four-year-old kids with that kind of philosophy. To believe that matter how good of a day you had yesterday, today is even better. To say that every day that you see me, it's literally on the best day of my life. I don't know about you, but that's the kind of life I want to live.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Make Life Your Own

Thanks to my cousin over at Que Sara, Sara, I've had this song stuck in my head all day:

And now it'll probably be stuck in your head too. (Sorry. Or you're welcome, depending on your point of view.) I know it's a very popular song, so please, please don't be offended when I say that it has always irritated me. (Keep in mind that we all have different tastes, and that's ok. You're just as entitled to love it as I am entitled to not love it.)

I'll give you that it's a pretty song, and that Doris Day is beautiful, but the lyrics have just always rubbed me the wrong way. What she says is:

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother 'What will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?' Here's what she said to me:
'Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be will be.
The future's not ours to see. Que Sera, Sera.'

But ever since I was a kid, what I always heard was: When I was young and impressionable, I asked my mother for guidance and insight into the world, and she said 'Eh. Whatever.'

I know that's an overly simplistic (and perhaps overly cynical) attitude toward the song. And I really was always half joking when I said it. But like I said, I formed the opinion as a kid... so maybe I was overly simplistic and overly cynical at the time. Either way, that's what I began to think about this morning as the song played through my head.

Of course, now that I'm older and wiser (and more philosophical) than I was in my youth, the thoughts didn't end there. I started to wonder if I could put away the sarcasm for a bit and hear the song on a different level. And yes, I can appreciate what it is trying to say. But I also came to the conclusion that I mostly still disagree with it.

Sure, you can't predict the future. And sure, there are outside forces that you can't control. And no, it doesn't do you any good to worry about things that you can't change. But does that mean that you should just accept "whatever will be," or should you take a more active approach in determining your fate?

Maybe the future isn't "ours to see," but I believe that it is ours to make. So I say don't just sit back and wait for life to happen. Go out there and make your life what you want it to be.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

LML (Come join my movement!)

I admit that when I first saw the term "FML" popping up online - mostly in Facebook status updates - I had to look it up. I was hoping that it didn't mean what I was guessing it meant, but it does. (For those of you that  aren't familiar with it, the "ML" stands for "my life" and the "F" stands for something that I would never say in mixed company. Let's just leave it at that.)

I have to say I was a bit bothered by the term. Not just because it was crude - I could get over that, I suppose. But mostly I was bothered by how it was being used. "The vending machine was out of Diet Coke. FML." Or "There's nothing on TV tonight. FML." All I could say was... REALLY?! Those are the kinds of things in your life that are so catastrophic?! Please.

Granted, we all get frustrated from time to time. Life sometimes piles on the headaches, and there are days that the entire universe seems to be conspiring against us. I get it. Perhaps we all, in a moment of exasperation, have uttered some form of "I hate my freaking life" sentiment. It's easy to toss something like that out - one of those things that we just say to blow off some steam, but don't really even think about what we're actually saying.

The other day I caught myself doing just that. I was cranky, and feeling sorry for myself, and started to do a little bit of "woe is me" muttering. But then I actually stopped and realized what I was saying, and how incredibly wrong it was. No, my life doesn't suck, and no, I don't hate it. Quite the contrary. I love my life. A lot.

And that's when I started thinking. Although I've seen the term "FML" come up in people's posts - way more often than I'd like - I couldn't recall ever having seen anyone use "LML." I wondered if it was even a thing. (So I looked it up too. It is a thing - I'm not the first to come up with it. But it seems that it's not used nearly as often as its more negative counterpart.) It's as if we have reached a point that we are more willing to get melodramatic about the little negatives in our lives than we are to focus on the positives. And I would really like to see that change.

So I've decided to start a movement, and I invite you all to join me. Every now and then, stop and think about how much you love your life. Count your blessings, find your reasons to smile, and realize that the good really does outweigh the bad. And whenever you find something that reminds you how much you love your life... share it. Let others feel your joy, and share your smiles.

And as often as possible, end your Facebook status update with "LML!"