Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fortyness... I Resolve to Make No Resolutions!

It is that time of year again. The time of year when we reflect on the things we want to change and vow to ourselves that on January 1st we will no longer "be" what ever it is we want to change. It is the time for New Year Resolutions.

What is a resolution anyway? A search on spits back no less than 12 definitions of resolution. Each one of them implies a set conclusion, a clear cut result or a set in stone opinion, outcome, or frame of mind. There is no room for wavering, veering off course, or change of mind without completely negating the meaning of resolution.

If you are like me, you have probably made hundreds of New Year resolutions by the time you have come into your fortyness. These resolutions have been all over the goal map. There are years that there is a resolution to finally get finances set. Other years it may be a resolution to finally get that dreaded "10" pounds off for good. Still in other years it may be to quit smoking, de-clutter, to call your mother once a week, or to once and for all get all the family photos into albums or scrapbooks.

There are huge intentions, but how often do we really see the huge results?

We start out strong, budgeting, dieting, quitting cold turkey... but somewhere within the first couple of weeks we stray off course. The after holiday sale is just too tempting. The dieting feels good for a couple of weeks after all of the holiday gluttony. And that darn vice - well it just has too strong of a hold.

No need to raise a hand, but how many of you have given up on a resolution as soon as you stray? I know I have...

In my fortyness, I have come to see a resolution as a set up for failure. The word itself implies that you are immediately in the "state" of whatever your goal is. That us just not the way life is. So, in my fortyness I am rebelling against resolutions and instead will focus daily on the personal qualities that will help me reach my goals. In my fortyness, I am resolving to make no resolutions. Instead of a resolution, I will spend the next 365 striving for the tenacity, determination, strength, perseverance, and fortitude that will keep me moving one step at a time, and will lead me to the goals that I wish to accomplish in the coming year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hat Tricks - Quick and Easy Gifts, Fabric Flowers!

Here are some fun uses for the flowers in the VLOG. Use them as hat or scarf pins, hair clips, headband embellishments, or even as package toppers. Add your own flair to just about anything. Be creative with how you use them!

Begin with rough cup 1" to 1.5" fabric circles. Stack circles and pass through back side of circles, through a bead, and out the other side of the circles. Continue until all 7 "petals" are strung.

Thread back through the first petal to close the flower. Pull till the flower is the form you would like it to be. Knot thread From the back, thread through each flower to secure the shape and then pull thread up through the center of the flower.

Thread a larger bead or button in the center of the flower and knot at the back of the flower. Affix your new creation to a hair clip, a pin, or a headband to complete this quick and easy project!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fortyness - Happiness in the Holiday Hullabaloo

Have you ever had one of those holiday experiences that makes you want to scrap the whole celebration? An experience in which multiple factors - any one of then capable of causing chaos in the house, coming together in a cosmic clash that threatens the entire past, present, and future of your holiday memories? An experience that only when you look back at it YEARS later that was truly a comedy of errors?

I sure have.

I don't remember the exact year, but in the recent past one of those experiences happened in our house. It was a year that we decided to cut a tree at a tree farm on our way home from spending Thanksgiving with my family in California. About two hours into the 6 hour drive we passed a tree farm that had so lovingly grown our perfect Christmas tree. After much searching and much debate among me, Mr. Mom of Many Hats, and my three baby hats, we decided on the tannenbaum that we would gather round on that special morning. We cut the tree, netted it up, put it atop the car, and we were on our way.

So the strife begins.....

After about 20 miles or so across the windy desert, we started to see the shadow of the tree wavering back an forth across the car. After much discussion, we stopped and re-secured the tree, and stopped and re-secured the tree, and stopped and re-secured the tree.... By the time we turned onto our street our perfect tree had added 3 hours onto an already boring and cranky drive. If a bit longer of a drive was the only price to pay, then it was worth it for our tree. .

We were relieved when finally pulled up to the house and hubby came to a stop, and then opened the garage. Baby hats and I were readying to disembark our big green SUV when Mr. MoMH continued forward into the garage - tree still atop the car. The trunk of the tree now impaled the front of my house. Face in his hands, my husband said a few words, a tear dropped from my eye, and then he slowly backed out. He assessed the damage to the house and the tree, and then walked inside to gather himself. I again shed another tear, but was determined to not let it get to me.

When we finally got the tree down, we put it out on the patio in a bucket of water for a nice long drink. We saw the crack and the bow in the trunk but still admired the beauty of the tree - as did our sweet black lab, Fina. She so admired it that she partook on the water that our lovely tree was drinking. Within a couple of hours, Fina's sweet face was ballooned up like a beach ball. I spent the next 24 hours giving her antihistamine and checking on her to make sure she was still breathing. Worn out from the lack of sleep, I didn't know how much more I could take...but what else could go wrong with getting the tree up?

Once the I knew the dog would survive, I put my efforts back into the tree. Hubby put it in the stand in the corner, I strung the lights, then we all hung ornaments on the tree - including the special ornaments that I had been collecting for years. Although a bit crooked - it looked beautiful. The following morning, I came down stairs to light the tree and found it on the floor, lights and ornaments strewn around the house, and many of the ornaments I collected reduced to tiny shards of colored glass. I put my head in my hands, said a few words, shed a few tears, and then righted the tree. I came down to this same scene two more mornings. By the third morning, I knew that the third time was my limit. I left the room hysterically upset, stressed beyond my coping skills I swore off of that darn tree.

In my fortyness I can look back and smile at this comedy of errors. I smile at every thing that went wrong, and at every re-action and over reaction.

In my fortyness I also smile at all the things that went right. I smile at the wonderful time we had at the tree farm. I smile at spending the hours in the car with my baby hats. I smile at how hard Mr. MoMH worked to get us that tree. I smile at how funny my Fina looked and that she was OK. I smile that when I gave up, my hubby and my girls stepped in and fixed that special tree. I even smile every time I still see the hole in the front of the house because it reminds me of how blessed I am to have the family I have. It reminds me to find happiness in the holiday hullabaloo.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fortyness - Embracing the Inner Scrooge

I have a confession to make. To some of you, especially those of you who know me well, this may come as a surprise. I know that I have hidden it well, and from the picture that I probably paint, what I am about to tell you is completely contrary to what you may believe I am like. But, I bet once I disclose, many of you will have to confess to some small degree that you feel the same.

My confession?

I am a scrooge. At least part of me is a scrooge. I don’t like the holidays – at least parts of them.

Now let me clarify. I am not saying that everything about the Christmas season should be disliked. There is the happiness of hearing the ringing bell as you leave stores, and the greater happiness of watching your kids drop a few coins in that unmistakable red bucket to help out others in need. Wonderful music plays on the radio, cd players and canned music loops all around. Kitchens smell of fresh baked cookies and other goodies that are a traditional part of the season. And of course, the greening of homes and other gathering places puts the masses into the holiday season. There is much joy in many parts of this festive time of year.

But, from a practicality and emotional aspect, it is a very stressful time of year. For many of us, it is a time of loneliness as we spend with those we love, but apart from others we love. Busy schedules, busy lives, or lots of miles have made it difficult to feel the “togetherness” that we long for at this time of year. Creating memories for everyone else has caused us to put expectations upon ourselves and have expectations put upon us that we can’t possibly live up to – at least not year after year. We have put value in the perfect tree, the perfect gift, and the perfect experience. We feel a sense of failure and sadness when we can’t deliver, or when we have given our all to deliver, but fall short in the eyes of others. As we run around in the busyness of the season, the light that we should shine in this season is snuffed out by the chaos we create. In the weariness of this aspect of the season, the inner scrooge emerges. What's to like about that?

In my fortyness, I am choosing to embrace my inner scrooge. It is a part of me and a part of my humanness. My inner scrooge is evidence of me recognizing that there is something amiss in my attitude about the holidays. Although it often results in barrage of tears when my “perfect” tree has fallen over for the third time, a meltdown when I can’t seem to find the right gifts, or a weepy episode when I am missing my family, the insistence of my inner scrooge to “swear off” the holidays is actually a reminder that I need to get back to basics. This curmudgeonous counterpart of my holiday being balances my delusions of grandeur of thinking that “I” can do it all, be it all, and deliver it all. My inner scrooge brings me back to the reality that this season is not about making it all perfect for myself or others. My inner scrooge reminds me that this season is about finding joy - joy in the gift that was given to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

So, for this holiday, embrace your inner scrooge. Before it has you in a HoHoHumbug state of mind, recognize it, embrace it, and acknowledge that it is there. Use it to see the changes that may or may not need to be made in your outlook of this time of year. The inner scrooge is the perfect balance to the expectations we have placed on the Holiday Season.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fortyness: Smooshed Boobs, Aristotle, and Dead Batteries

Did this spark your interest?

I hope it has.

I meet my day with a fresh cup of coffee, a generally positive disposition (that coffee consumption), and with the determination to face my errands and duties that lie ahead. Most days the routines and responsibilities are pretty similar. I do my workout, make sure the kids are up and get out the door for school, take care of whatever household business needs to be taken care of, and finish out the rest of the day on auto-pilot as I take care of typical family and domestic necessities. This is the general expected norm in the life of many moms (or dads as the case may be), at least as it pertains to home life. However, every once in a while, the universe has a way of throwing in events and responsibilities that seem to have no connection to the flow of my life, ones that when looked at together make me stand back and go.... Huh?

Today was one of those days. All before 11am, my generally routine day turned into a day of smooshed boobs, Aristotle, and dead batteries.

It started out as I had mentioned above with my coffee and sunny disposition. I guess you could say that I had my workout too...... I had my annual mammogram. If you have had one (and most of you who are reading this should have already had one or are about the age when you should have one!) you know that the contraption used is an exercise in flexibility to get the right "pose", stamina while you hold your breath as the technician runs back to the machine to press the button, and endurance of the discomfort associated with having parts of your anatomy smooshed between two cold plates to get just the right shot.

From my photo shoot, my day headed in a different direction to a time before mammograms as I moved on to the engaging words of Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetoric, an assignment from one of my school courses. I found a spot at my favorite coffee spot, and I marveled at his thought provoking words on virtue, communication and friendship, almost as much as I marveled over my ability to understand what he was actually saying. I felt cultured and even a bit scholarly as I considered the relevance of his words written 2000 years ago. But, alas, my stay in Ancient Greece was short as I had to take care of other duties of the day. I took the reigns of my modern day chariot - my big green SUV, and headed off to the west.

In my westward excursion, I quickly took care of some school business and headed out to my car to head home. I hit the unlock button on the key fob, hopped into the driver's seat, turned the key and.... nothing. Nada. Zilch. Not even a hint of a turnover was my car going to satisfy me with. The battery was dead, leaving me stranded in the Arizona summer heat. After a few phone calls, forty minutes, and about a gallon of sweat, the knight in the white truck (the Auto club guy) came to my rescue and sent me on my way home.

OK.... so what does this have to do with Fortyness?

In fortyness, we want to make sense out of life. We want routine, ease, and no surprises. We want to grow and understand who we are but we want it in a safe, predictable and comfortable environment. What the happenings of today reminded me of is that in this season of life, Fortyness, we can't depend on predictability and routine. Things are going to stretch and cause discomfort to our bodies, minds and patience. Everything that happens in this season doesn't always mesh up with what we want to be happening, and that's ok. The veering from the norm can be tough, but it can also be good.

Smooshed boobs, Aristotle, and dead batteries turned off my auto pilot switch. These three experiences didn't fit into my normal routine, nor did they seem to make any sense at all when I looked at them together. In fact, I did utter an audible "Huh?" They tested my body, my mind and my patience. But, they caused good. The discomfort I felt in the mammogram will help to ensure my future health. The words of Aristotle stimulate my mind and thoughts, and help me to understand people. The dead battery, well...the tow truck guy was really really nice. When taken all together, today's happenings help me to see the value in being flexible and open to change an unpredictability. That willingness to break from routine and what is expected will help me to weather another day in the life in the midst of Fortyness.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fortyness... Intentionally Selfless

As a woman and a mom, I know what it is to give of myself.

As a young parent, I gave of myself in giving birth to and caring for my newborn children. I gave of my sleep, of my time, and of my energy. Over the years I gave of myself in going with out so they could have, canceling appointments and commitments so that they could be where they needed to be, and exchanging wants for needs that fit the family and not my own personal preference. I gave of myself as I moved from state to state with Mr. Mom of Many Hats as he moved up the corporate ladder. Believe me, I know what it is to give.

There is a difference in this giving of self that is a part of my everydayness and selfless giving. In all of the giving of self that I have done, there has been some sort of reward in it for me. I am rewarded for the care, sacrifice and giving to my children by the smiles, thank yous, and joy in seeing them become successful and empathetic young women. I have been rewarded in my halfway across country moves and back by seeing new places, growing closer with my kids and husband, and a quality of life that I have been fortunate to have. In my giving I was rewarded.

Selfless giving on the other hand is something very different. In selfless giving, there is no reward and no expectation of anything in return. There are no pats on the back or exchange of benefit. Is done simply as a gesture of good will, caring, and love by the giver. My daughter- my middle baby hat recently modeled selfless giving to me.

Baby Hat B is about to enter her junior year in high school. (If you've had a daughter, you know that this is the time of their teenage years that appearance becomes important and part of their identity. )She had been growing her hair for almost two years. It was a long and lovely set of locks. Even though she had put so much effort into growing it, she made a sacrifice for the benefit of others through it. She went online and researched how to donate to Locks of Love , an organization that supports cancer patients through providing hair to replace what they have lost as a result of treatment. She went to the salon along with her information and had her hair put in two ponytails. After a few cuts, the stylist had two bunches of my beautiful B's hair bundled and ready to be sent to look beautiful on someone who had lost their hair to the ravages of cancer.

Her choice was a selfless act of giving with no expectation of reward or gain. Although she knows the recipient will be thankful, she will never see the person who benefits from her hair and get a "thank you" in person. When she got home after her hair cut, she simply posted on her Facebook status "Got my hair cut", not even mentioning her donation nor wanting recognition for it(although I admit, I was so proud of her that I posted it on my status.) Her actions were done out of goodwill, and care for others.

It is funny that in my Fortyness, after all my years of "giving", I strive to be a better giver. Although I will always continue to be for and give of myself for my family, I want to be the person that isn't made smaller and lessened by the "sacrifices" , and expecting some sort of gain for it. I want to be like my daughter - the person that gives selflessly with no expectation of accolades.

Although our forties are a time when we think we should reap the rewards of what we have given to life so far, it is also a time of life that we should realize how much more life we have, and how much more we have to give; to give without expectation of return. It is a time to not focus on what we can gain by our actions, but by how we can impact by them. In Fortyness, it is the time give not because we are obligated, but because we can and should - a time to be intentionally selfless.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fortyness - Life is Like a Box of Choco....No, a Hunk of Swiss...

If you were in any way conscious between the 1990's and now, you probably associate this "box" line with a popular movie and the surprises you get inside delicious pieces of chocolate candy and from life.

I have another theory.....

Life is like a Hunk of Cheese.

Yes, cheese....Swiss cheese....

You may or may not be a swiss cheese fan, but one thing for sure you probably know what a piece of swiss cheese looks like. It is generally light in color with well formed holes in it. If you go into an artisan cheese shop you will see huge wheels of the flavorful substance sitting proudly on the top of displays with the iconic wedge cut out of it.

But when you look at it, it is the holes that stand out. It looks almost as if something is missing. The focus is placed on what is lacking, on the empty spaces, and on the incompleteness of the cheese. What the cheese HAS is forgotten.

The holes got in the cheese through a process. After the cheesemaker has taken careful steps to prepare the cheese, it is left for ripening. In this time the different milk sugars, acids, and proteins that make up cheese base begin to separate, transform and undergo chemical changes. It is a long and seemingly tumultuous time for the young wheel. As these changes occur the holes start to form. When the cheese wheel has undergone all of the trials and tribulation of the aging process, it reaches maturity. What is left is a hunk of smelly, yet carefully crafted cheese with well defined and large holes. In the world of cheese, these holes are called eyes.

This is sort of like life. In fortyness we have reached the maturity stage. We have gone through the process of having different people, experiences, ideas, world views and personal traits mixed together as our life base. They have mixed and ripened for the last 40 years and as a result, we have undergone changes. In that time, there were some holes starting to take hold. Some of the holes were a result of bad relationships, illness, or loss. Other holes were from the everyday tasks that wear us down and tire us out. Whatever the cause, as the tumult and trial of incorporating all of our past experience occurred, the holes became well defined, empty spaces in our selves. By the time we have ripened, what we often see is what is NOT there - what we are lacking.

But, remember, in cheesology, those holes are called eyes. The holes we see in ourselves can be eyes as well. It seems that if there were never any difficulty or loss in life that things would be great. If there were no challenges, life would be smooth an easy. Just what we want....right? But what if life had been smooth and mellow, like a nice brie? When an issue came along we would not be able to stand up and conquer it (remember, brie is a soft cheese that gets all melty in the heat.....). To withstand the holes, we must be strong and stand firm. The holes do become a permanent part of us; a part of our structure. But they also can become the eyes through which we can look at life with wisdom and experience. They can help us see the beauty of what we do have if we so choose to look through them, not at them. The holes have strengthened us and allow us to stand up and conquer the heat of life. Have you ever tried to melt a piece of Swiss?

One final thought....

If you are a brie fan, please don't take offense. But, it is a very boring cheese with not lot of texture. When you slice into it it is homogeneous and plain. On the other hand, when you slice into a wheel of Swiss, there are a multitude of designs and patterns inside. It is fragrant and interesting with no two slices looking or being exactly the same. Embrace your holes, look through them and not at them, and you will see the reward of what time, ripening and maturity has left you with.... your beautiful hunk of cheese.

* Image by thenoodleator via Flickr

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fortyness...The Long Run at 9000 Feet

I am a runner.

I run several times a week. And although I am not a marathon runner (I have run 1/2 marathons) the distance I can run is respectable. I am not the fastest, but again, my endurance is nothing to laugh at.

I run in the Sonoran Desert. It is sometimes extremely hot. Predawn runs can be as hot as 90 degrees at the onset. It can also get pretty cold. Early morning runs can be in the 20's in the winter time. But, regardless of the weather outside, I am very consistent in my dedication to pounding the pavement. Understanding my conditioning and the conditions that I run in most of the year, it always astonishes me how a change in scenery can change the effort needed to complete my runs.

In the summer time, I head northwest of my desert home and spend some time on the western coast of our great country. My stay there includes a beautiful and relaxing trip the Sierra Nevada Mountains for a week of family and fun...and of course some running. Some hard running. Some very hard running. It's not that I am changing my mileage. In fact I run fewer. It is not that the weather is any different - it is really much more pleasant.

It's the air. The oxygen more specifically.

My desert home is at about 1000 ft elevation. My mountain runs are at 9000 ft. The air is pretty thin. I have to put out twice the effort for the same benefits. I have to adjust my pace, adjust my breathing, adjust my steps. If I don't, I'll probably end up flat faced on the side of the road feeling like my lungs have collapsed. The trick to finishing my runs is knowing what I have to accomplish but adjusting my stride, strategy and energy outlay, and adjusting the expectations that I can have the performance at 9000 ft that I do at 1000 ft.

Fortyness is a time of changing elevations. We run along fine at an elevation one moment, and in the blink of an eye, life has tossed us into another. You probably know these moments..... finances are moving along nicely and then a huge bill for a repair or a loss of a job happens..... you are feeling really good about how you have parented your kids then a kid "crisis" happens...... your relationships have seemed content and comfortable then are suddenly in upheaval. All of these things are like being dropped at a high altitude at a full run.

Adjustments in strategy and energy outlay become a normal part of life as we seem to have half the gain at twice the cost. To make it through, we must adjust our stride, making some steps smaller and some larger. We may need to reassess the rout or make a detour on the course, understanding that our performance may not be as stellar in these times. We need to be aware that the amount of oxygen dwindles in some moments of fortyness, and do what we need to do to keep our lungs full so we can continue on. Most importantly, we must keep our eyes on our end goals. The route is rarely easy. but if we stay dedicated to the journey, we can successfully finish these long runs at 9000 ft.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fortyness..... Caging Your Big Green Parrot....

On some days, in the calm of the Pasadena California afternoon, the peace can be broken by the unmistakable and out of place shrill squawks of green parrots. Theses parrots aren't part of someone's aviary or pet store. They aren't the "little old ladies'" companions sitting on their little wooden stands in the windows of the city. They are wild yellow headed amazon parrots that live and breed in the trees of Pasadena. For those of you who are geographically challenged..... Pasadena, California is really, really far from the amazon. There are lots of theories about how the parrots got into the wilds of Pasadena, from smugglers releasing their stash, to a bird store fire mishap, to owners releasing them because they couldn't keep them. Maybe no one will ever know the whole truth about how they got there, but the point is they are there.

These parrots started from just a couple of birds and now have multiplied into whole flocks of birds that have not only survived, but thrived. They perch in the palms that line the streets of the humble city screeching to make their presence known. There are actually committees and projects dedicated to the feathered palm frond ornaments. The birds, that had they originally been kept caged or confined, now require the time, energy, manpower, resources, clean-up services (you know what happens when birds perch), and commitment of the fine people of Pasadena.

So here's the big question.... WHAT DO GREEN PARROTS HAVE TO DO WITH FORTYNESS????

Those green parrots are like irritants, problems, issues, or vices that may now be consuming in this part of life - in fortyness. It could be something like recognizing that all those years you thought you were easy going, you realized that you were really always accommodating - and you're tired. It could be an issue in a relationship that was easy to overlook when you were younger, but now is an overwhelming hurdle. It could be a vice that you thought you could indulge in occasionally and keep it in check, but now runs your life. All of them started as a parrot that was let loose and eventually took over. In it's beginning, it seemed harmless- after all, what is one bird in an entire city? But, like the birds, it multiplied and now inhabits, and can inhibit existence because of the energy it takes to manage it.

But, it's not to late to do something about it. With the wisdom you've gained throughout your life experience, should have no problem identifying your parrot (be honest with yourself now). Figuring out how to catch the bird may take a bit more effort, but it's not impossible. You've lived a lot of life already and come through a lot of things. You can do this. Confining your feathered "friend" takes dedication, determination, and a desire to truly change things. It will be worth it. Life can be so sweet, so peaceful, and so clean if you find the way to cage your big green parrot.

* Image by

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fortyness - Life in the Doldrums

A doldrums is a still state, a state of non-movement, a state of non-growth, a state of stagnation. Upon the sea it is a treacherous state to be in. It can be the death of a sailor, leaving the boat stranded in the vast ocean as but a stranded speck upon the unending water. The sailor is dependent upon the wind and currents to move the boat - to take it to its destination. The sails can be raised, the rudder can be moved, but without a wind or current, nothing happens but a stirring of the water and the hanging of vast pieces of fabric. Although it takes skill to maneuver the boat among the water, the sailor, with all the ability in the world can go nowhere if there is no energy or force to propel the boat.

This idea of stagnation, of stillness, of being stuck in a state, knowing that there is a destination to reach but a lacking of energy to get there, can apply to people as well. This, to me, captures a lot of what Fortyness is.

In this era we have been propelled by the forces of life. We have reached goals in careers by hard work and choice that have been a catalyst for much of what we do and how we exist. Educational goals have been or are being met. The hard work and time investment in our higher learning cast us into social and academic circles that helped us to understand who we are in that setting. We may have had marriage of family responsibilities that dictated what and who we needed to be, not only by necessity, but also by choice. Who we are has been defined by what roles have occupied the prior years of our life.

But as this era of fortyness settles in, our identity comes into question. A period of redefining begins. This period often times feels without a driving force. It is in many ways like a doldrums.

As our age increases, we see the time we have to truly understand ourselves seems to decrease. We search for meaning in life, in relationships, in work, and in many of the things that used to serve as the fuel of our identity. At the same time, the roles we have depended upon are changing. The frenzy of parenting in many ways slows. There may not be much left of accomplish at work. We have the degree, now what? The forces that helped to move us along suddenly slow, and then stand still. We look for another destination that we know is out there, the destination of our true identity, but we have no movement toward it. We are stuck pondering. We are in a doldrums of life.

So what do we do?

If the sailor were to not continue to raise the sails, he'd not be able to test the wind. If he didn't eventually move the rudder, how would he know it there were any current? If he were to simply give up, he'd surly be lost at sea, never to reach the destination. So he continues on with the motions of sailing, hoping to find the hint of movement. Eventually, the sails catch the wind, and he is on his way again. We need to be like the sailor. We need to continue on, searching, asking and pondering who we are, and going through the motions of life. Eventually we will find a new fuel in our fortyness that will bring us to our destinations of knowing our identity. It may be just a small breeze that our sails catch or a raging storm, but undoubtedly, we will move from the doldrums and back into the currents of understanding who we are.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fortyness - Walking a Mile in Their Shoes

If you are a mom, you know that no one knows your children better than you do. You have the intimate knowledge of them to know just by looking at their eyes that they have strep throat or a sinus infection. You know from the moment they come out of their rooms in the morning whether they are going to have good days or bad days. You know by their stature when they walk in from school or away from a chat on the computer if they are dealing with friend issues, heartache or disappointment.

I have three beautiful Baby Hats, A,B, and C. They were precious baby girls that are now turning into amazing young women. Am am in awe everyday of who they are and what they are becoming. They will truly make a difference in the world in some way. I couldn't be more proud of them.

Being a woman I have always felt like I had an advantage raising girls. I know that many of the things that they will experience will be the same things that I experienced growing up. Heartbreaks, hormones, homework - I can relate. Friendships, fearing the future, feeling awkward at times - I've been there. Sadness, success, silliness of being a teenager - this mom has lived that too. I understand the intricacies and bonds surrounding growing up with sisters. I know the insecurities, the joys, the quirkiness and challenges of growing from a girl into a woman.

I know my babies intimately. I know their hearts.

However, as well as I know them, I know there is much that I don't know about them. They may not reveal every fear, every joy, every interest, or every concern to me. My desire in my fortyness is to know them even more. I want to know them more to help them navigate the roads that lie ahead of them in life. Even though I have traveled them, their own experiences change the terrain. In order to guide or even walk with them, I want to be familiar with the roadblocks, u-turns and forks that they may have to negotiate.

This year on my birthday, I am giving each of my daughters a gift. I am giving them a pair a canvas tennis shoes in my size and a pack of permanent markers. As a gift to me, I am going to ask them to put on these shoes, all the things that make them who they are - hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, successes and failures. Whether they choose to simply write words or create pictures to represent, it doesn't matter. This is something for them to express who they I can know them better.

When they are done with these shoes, I hope to be able to be a better mother to them. I hope to be able to understand their hearts even more. I hope to be able to have a deeper connection with them as I put the gifts on my own feet and walk a mile in their shoes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I turned 40 this year.

I didn't really mind it. As my birthday approached, I didn't feel the loom and doom of the age suffocating me. I didn't feel the need to hide my chronological age behind the guise of the everlasting of the 39's. I didn't lament my last day in my 30's. In fact, I remember my last day in my 20's being much more difficult and emotional. 40- I didn't mind least not from the aspect of being old.

As the day I celebrated my 40th year on this earth came and went, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I took it. I had a lovely day with my family and my parents who drove 400 miles to celebrate it with me. I was conscious of how "undifferent" 40 felt from 39. I though to myself, "This 40 thing is a breeze!"

But as the days and weeks of my 40th year passed, a funny thing happened. I uneventfully but steadily descended into fortyness. It wasn't a single event or a single day, but an accumulation of a lifetime of experiences, memories, circumstances and relationships that rattled around deep inside of me and quietly created where I am today - in fortyness.

This fortyness thing makes me look at my world and the things in it a lot differently. It affects how I view, assess, and react to almost every aspect of my life. Kids, work, education, body image, relationships, personal responsibility, parenting, friendships, material stuff, you name it, fortyness changes how it looks.

It's funny how I remember when my parents turned seemed so.....well....old. Now, not so much. In fact, it doesn't feel old at all. It is liberating, comfortable, and at times, challenging. It is a state of being, not an age that defines us. We define it. Do I mind it? No. Does it cause some change and discomfort, both good and bad? Yes.

Over the next several months, I'll be returning often to and writing through the lens of fortyness. I know I can't be the only person who is in this place. Hopefully you can find something you can connect with and, in these writings, find a place where you can see that you are not alone in your fortyness. As always, I'd love to hear your comments.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

On the Hunt...

It's here! It's here!!!

It's that time of year when the stores are overrun by pastel colored stuffed bunnies, plastic eggs, a bagillion different types of candy all donning their spring wrappers, and of course, the classic little yellow marshmallowy .....mmmmmmmmm...Peeps!

It's Easter time again.

Even though my baby hats are all turning into young women, they still look forward to the fun Easter activities they have done since they were little. Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, new dresses, and dying eggs - there are 18 boiling on my stove as I write this, are still a hallmark of the holiday. They are an expectation and a tradition in my household. The Easter grass, the smell of vinegar in the dye, and the inevitable egg that gets forgotten - this time of year just would not be the same without them.

Of course it is a lot of work for me. It gets tougher to find stuff to stuff in eggs and baskets as they get older. Dying the eggs is far from an unmessy activity. And yes....I will even have to untangle the brushes of my vacuum cleaner every time I run it for the next 6 weeks as it sucks up the grass that made its way from inside the basket to tangled in the carpet. Even though it sometimes feels that they are getting too old for it, that they don't appreciate it, or if they've driven my nuts and I feel like they don't deserve it, I still do it. It's a sacrifice of time and a labor of love. But it is all a small price to pay for something that brings my girls joy. And it in no way compares to the price that was paid for us.

We have fun and partake in all of the fun "Eastery" stuff. We always have. It has brought a lot of pleasure to watch the girls hunt for their eggs hoping to find their heart's desire hidden in each little plastic egg.

But, the central focus has always been the true meaning of Easter. They know that the gift they have been given his far greater than what any egg or basket can hold. It goes far beyond the temporary pleasure of the sweet chocolate bunny in the pretty foil. It is a gift that is everlasting, eternal, and by far, the most precious thing that has ever been given for another.

It is the gift of forgiveness and salvation. On this Easter we will again remember and celebrate the sacrifice and labor of love that Christ gave for us. He gave his life for us, in exchange for our sins. He took the pain for us, as undeserving as we are, so that we would have eternal life in heaven. That is the true gift this Ester.

This Easter, when the hunt for treasures is on, remember that the temporary treasures and pleasures will be hidden in the grass and under the bushes. But to find the eternal one, there is no need to look ant further than the cross.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pot'O Gold.....

"Your task is not to find a pot of gold, but to help fill this kettle. For some, significance is given by birth, but for most, including you and me, meaningful significance can only be found in service to the other." (Ronald C. Arnett)

On this luck o' the Irish day... many of us may be wishing to find that elusive pot of gold to make everything in our lives better. We think about the proverbial rainbow and the kettle at the end, carefully guarded by the leprechaun, and wish that the pot was ours. Wouldn't it be grand? Riches beyond measure, no need or want for any material thing? For many of us, it seems that the sudden discovery of a fortune would reverse the bad fortune and lead to a life of happiness and comfort......

But would it really?

If you had every "thing" you could possibly want, would it bring you happiness? If you suddenly won a lottery jackpot, and could ONLY spend it on yourself, would that bring you fulfillment? Would you feel more important or like you had more meaning?

The quote by Arnett isn't necessarily referring to financial riches and fulfillment. We are on a quest to find ourselves, find our meaning, and find the significance of our own existence. What this quote is saying, is that if we are only looking to fill up ourselves, we will come up empty. It's sort of like filling a piggy bank that doesn't have the plug in it. No matter how many coins we put in it, when we pick it up to shake it, we hear nothing.

However, when we turn the focus on others, our significance bank starts to fill. With each connection we make with others, each deed we do, each time we acknowledge the humanness of another, each time we at least try to find common ground (putting coins in the other's bank), our bank begins to fill. When we stop focusing on how much we have or want, and focus on what the other needs, we find our significance, our meaning, our contentment.

So today when you find your four leaf clovers to make that wish of finding a pot o' gold, try wishing that same wish for someone else. You'll be amazed at how rich you will feel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conversation Hearts


Ah....Conversation hearts.....

Do you remember the credence we put in those in elementary school? Do you remember how scandalous it was when a certain boy gave a certain girl a Valentine with a certain conversation candy heart attached to it?

Ah.....Conversation hearts.....

The chalky, sugary, food dye infused staple of February 14th. They were the heart shaped do-dads that we glued onto doilies, red hearts, and Valentine crafts to bring home to our parents - the favorite February festive craft of the elementary art class teacher.

Ah...conversation hearts......

The little candy "love notes" that try and relay how much our true love...or at least our Valentine of the day...cared for us.

There is no doubt about it, if there were no conversation hearts, Valentine's Day just would not be the same. That little bite-size sweet gesture is such an iconic part of the day that celebrates love - or at least being "in love." Even if you can't stand the the taste of the treat or smirk at the sayings on them that change from generation to generation (OK....TEXT ME is just plain silly to put on a candy heart....), I bet you still have a soft spot in your heart for the high fructose fortified feeling filled hearts that say romance on this special day.

No matter who we are, somewhere deep inside, let's face it, we all want to get a good conversation heart. A pink heart bearing "I LUV U" declarations, a green proclaiming your "SOUL MATE" status, or a white heart exclaiming a passionate "I WANT U", all carry the messages we desire to hear on this special day of romantic celebration. It's human and natural...we all want to feel loved.

I truly appreciate the conversation hearts. I have a bag here on my desk as inspiration (and a snack) as write this. Some of the sayings are trite and maybe even a bit shallow, and some could use some updating. But I still get that ushy gushy feeling when I read the sayings and daydream of my Valentine picking out just the right hearts with the right romantic sayings to give to me.... "I'LL DO THE DISHES"...."DOG"S BEEN FED"..."I'LL DEAL WITH THE KIDS".....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Today is a milestone day. My Baby Hat C turns 13 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY C! It's official in our more little kids. No more kid's meals at restaurants, no more kids admittance prices to movies, theme parks and museums. No more birthday gifts of barbies and toys; it's on to electronics. No more knocking on the neighbor friend's door to come out and ride bikes - we are on to facebook chats and texting. We have moved on into the world of teens. It is a milestone day.

In fact, this is a milestone year.

All my baby hats are reaching milestone ages this year - 21, 16, 13. How strange it is going to be to know that my oldest baby hat can sit down and have a glass of wine with her father and me if she wanted to. How strange to see my middle baby hat move from foot power to horsepower as a means of getting around. And my youngest baby hat...well, we've already covered that!

When they were younger, I remember not really wanting the time to pass before my eyes, but yet always looking forward to the day when they were a little bit more self sufficient. As a young mom with three kids I got worn out and tired. As much as I enjoyed being a mom (and still do) , the thought of a bit of the load lightening with their increasing independence seemed like it would lift some of the weight that I felt. The small little pebbles of "ableness" - buckling their own car seat belt, tying shoes that actually ended up on the right feet, walking to the bus stop for school, gave me the illusion that my job as mom was getting easier. My back was less tired as a child spent less and less time on my left hip. I had two free arms to get things done. When we reached the milestone of having all three kids in school, my load was I thought.

As they have gotten older and reached more milestones, they weight of motherhood is different. I may not have as many physical demands and they may not be as physically dependent, but the load is still there. My back may not hurt and feel like it's going to break, but sometimes my heart does. Sleepless nights because of a crying baby or chasing away nightmare monsters are replaced with sleepless nights of worry or soothing a sad child who has just experienced a breakup with a boyfriend. The milestones that in many ways lifted the load from my back did just that, but placed them right on my heart.

Milestones are necessary. They are to be celebrated. In most ways they are good. The milestones our children reach are indicators that as parents we are doing our job. But, they aren't always easy.

I am so proud of my baby hats and proud of the milestones that they have reached. I am privileged to be able to share their moments of accomplishment and independence. And as much as it weighs my heart to watch them grow up, it also strengthens it. I guess that's so my heart has the muscles for the rest of life's milestones.....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm Still Here!!!!

My postings have been few and far between as of late. I apologize for that and I am working on getting some new material posted on a much more frequent basis. I have not abandoned my blog or vlog. It means too much to me to let it fall by the wayside.

Over the last few months, there has been grief, stress, and busyness. I have lost two loved ones that have been so important in my life. They both played a part in making me who I am. There has been the stress that accompanies raising children - the fighting, the homework, the trials of three teenagers. There has also been busyness with school, work and all the other tasks of existence. Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, my blogging and vlogging hats got crushed under all of my life hats.

But, as I said, I am determined to change that. I realize that blogging and vlogging are things that feed my soul. They re-energize me. They are a creative outlet for me to express myself in print and in words. I hope readers and viewers are interested in what I have to say. But, I realize that some of these words may never be read or heard by another. My purpose is not to simply hear myself speak (or type, or write....not exactly sure how you would phrase this...) but instead is a way for me to express who I am and what I am about. It is freeing. It is liberating. It builds upon the foundation of what makes me....well, me.

So, with that said...I would like to tell all of my current readers, past readers, and future readers that I appreciate your willingness to spend a bit of time on my blog. It is truly a gift when I hear from each one of you.

I am working on some new material to be coming very soon....some fun, some serious, some crafty, some frugal. You name it...I've got a hat that goes for the occasion! Check back soon to for a peek into my hatboxes. It feeds my soul. It just might feed yours too!