Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Confession

I don't like the holidays.

There.... I said it. I don't like the holidays.

Don't get me wrong - I love creating memories for my family.  I cherish the time we spend together.  Our traditions of cookie baking, bingo playing, scalloped potato making, stair stockings, and Christmas PJs warm my heart to no end.  It brings me great joy to see that they are experiencing traditions - some carried on from my family and some we created new, that hopefully they will carry on to their families.  When I hear them talk about the holidays as they are approaching, I know I have done well as the conversation is centered around the fun but also the Faith that is a part of our holiday story.

If everything is so perfect, and I feel that I have done good, then why don't I like the  holidays?

As joyful as it is for me to see my children experiencing Christmas and learning tradition to carry on through the generations, there is also a part of me that experiences great sadness.  There is a part of me that knows that the joy of the season is temporary and will soon come to an end.  Like many moms who make the holiday experience for their families, I give  my all to creating a celebration that my children will remember.  Though I would never change it, I am tired. Like many other moms, I have moved from my family with my spouse and become the matriarch of the holiday. I find myself  "winging" it and hoping I am dong a good job, while at the same time longing for being  under the safety and celebration of my own family back home. As each season passes, I have my joy increased, but my sadness as well. With the passing of each holiday, I know I am one step closer to having my daughters step out and build their own traditions with their own families.

So What do I do about it?

I hang on to the joy.  I hold tight to each memory we are making.  I cherish the fun and laughter. I know that I am passing on Faith and the meaning of Christmas. I know that even though I don't necessarily like the "holidays" I love the moments, the laughter, the smiles, the anticipation.  I remember that each effort put out becomes a part of my legacy.  I find solace that in my old age as I look upon my family, though I may not have liked the holidays, I loved my family enough to be a memory and tradition maker for my dear daughters. I will love being a part of their holiday traditions with their families.

To any of the moms (or dads) reading this that feel the same way, you are not alone. Even if you are tired in the entirety of the holidays, find joy and happiness and love the moments.  Know that you are dong a good work and building memories for your family. They love you and will cherish you for it.

I wish you a Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hat Tricks! Creative Hat!

Need a quick and easy project for this weekend? Something fun and creative that you can do just for you or with your little ones?

Today's Hat Trick is to help you stay creative. Some type of creativity is necessary to juggle all of the hats we wear everyday!This simple T-shirt bleaching technique is just what you need to don your creative hat!

I'd love to hear your comments on how this tip can help you be creative! Check out the Hat Tricks side bar for additional tips to help you juggle all of your hats!

Hat Tricks! Crafting Hat! Dip Dyed Shirts! Fun Home Made Gift!

Hello Friends! With the holidays upon us, I thought this was a great time to share this post again. It makes a great holiday gift idea!

Thanks to TaterTots and Jello blog for sharing this the Bleach it Away campaign info.  This project fits right in!
I received information about Clorox’s Bleach It Away campaign and am sharing my messy moment/craft fail/bleach project for the chance to win prizes from Tatertots & Jello and Clorox. You can find out more information about this campaign –  If you share YOUR messy moment story, you can enter to win $25,000 and daily prizes, and you can get a coupon for Clorox® Regular Bleach.

Here are samples of what you are seeing in the video. The first shirt you are seeing was made in this VLOG. Video is a bit grainy.....Time for a new camera!

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Breast Cancer Hope - My Sister's Story

I wrote this three years ago this month, but needed to share it again. If you are a woman or a man, you MUST KNOW ABOUT INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER! The side bar shows a list of symptoms to look for. Google it, research it, know about it. Below are some links to assist you.

Please read the follow up on Amy's story at the end of this post.

My Sister's Story

Although this is written mostly from my perspective, I write this entry with the permission of my beautiful sister Amy who is a true warrior and survivor.

I remember the day last February that my sister called me.

I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at the community college where I was taking classes. My phone range, and on the other end of the line was my sister, barely able to speak. She was in tears after leaving her general practitioner's office and on her way to a breast surgeon. Her doctor had sent her from his office, directly to a specialist because of the urgency of his suspected diagnosis.

I went home and researched the symptoms she had that caused her doctor alarm and prayed that his suspicions were wrong. The information I found was scary, devastating, and grim. It said that, if her doctor was right, the statistics said that there was only about a 20% survival rate.

She called me that night and confirmed that her general practitioner's suspicions were right. She had inflammatory breast cancer.

The next several weeks were so difficult. There was a complete feeling of helplessness, fear, and hopelessness as we learned more about this type of cancer. As a family we were grieving.

But, soon after her treatment started, we saw that there was hope.

Amy began and aggressive course of chemotherapy. Within four months of treatment, her MRI and other scans showed that the cancer was slowing, retreating, and inactive. She had a radical mastectomy six months after her diagnosis and healed well. Additional scans and MRIs showed that her body was holding up well and responding to treatment. Her doctors are very happy with her progress.

Some of the hope comes from two drugs that are being used in the course of her treatment. The first is Zometa. This was originally used to strengthen bones, but according to, it has been shown to help prevent the spread of breast cancer tumors. The second drug is herceptin. Herceptin works by blocking receptors on cancer cells. By blocking the receptors, the cancer doesn't get growth signals, and therefore, stops growing. *

Another source of hope is that she has seen doctors that don't use a 'one size fits all' approach to treating her cancer. Her doctors have taken the time to understand who she is, what her cancer is, and how they can best treat her. Many of them specialize in only breast cancer treatment. From the cocktail of medications in her chemotherapy, to the surgical aspect of her treatment, to the physical and psychological aspects of her healing, her doctors see her as an individual, not a statistic.

There is hope in that there are many organizations dedicated detection, prevention and finding a cure for breast cancer. All over the country, groups gather to walk and run in support of breast cancer research. Corporations donate portions of sales of certain items to breast cancer research foundations. There is hope that each day research is done, is one day closer to a cure.

Although there is an incredible amount of hope in what can be done through people, the greatest hope is in the faith that she has, and that we have as a family. From the moment she was diagnosed, she has had an army of supporters around her. She is loved and prayed for on a daily basis by every one of them. As a family of faith, we believe in the power of prayer and are confident that she will find healing. We know that God is in control of every situation, especially this one.

That day in February started a long and dark night. But, as hope has set in, the sun is rising again, shining bright on my beautiful true warrior and survivor sister, Amy.

Update, Oct 2011. Amy is still fighting - a true warrior. Part of her treatment was a mod-rad mastectomy. She has undergone collectively 24 months of chemotherapy and a round of radiation. She is still in treatment and we still maintain hope in her full healing of Inflammatory Breast Cancer!

To read her full story, Please visit her site:

Amy's journey with IBC can be found at her website.

IBC Info:

If you have a hope story, please be a blessing to someone who is in the battle. Reach out in an e-mail, phone call, or response to this post.

Next post: Cancer Blessings

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Creative Hat: Halloween Ghost Project!

Fall is here and that means it's time for Autumn themed projects!

Watch the video tutorial below to learn how to
make these adorable ghosts with easy to find materials

They're, a little bit cute, a little bit spooky, and a whole lot of FUN! Enjoy!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rollercoaster of Life

Doesn't it seem like sometimes we are just strapped into a metal car, careening through life, screaming our heads of, with our hearts pounding out of our chests?

Life is a lot like a rollercoaster ride.

Often in life we are going along smoothly, enjoying the scenery that passes by us. We stop and survey the scenic views that are along our life track. We get comfortable win our jobs, comfortable in our relationships, and comfortable in our habits. The ride is enjoyable. We create a map and a road trip itinerary of where this attraction is going to take us. At a particular point along the road, we'll have a home and a family. At another, careers, accomplishments and accolades are expected. Still another, we have reached a particular status, economic goal or level of independence. No matter what each individual itinerary looks like there is one thing for sure.... the itinerary itself is two dimensional. The points run on a flat line, a horizon, a straight path. Another thing that is for sure is that life is 3 dimensional and runs more like a roller coaster track.

As accelerate through this 3D ride of life, we hit ups and downs, sharp turns, loop de-loops, jarring, and jolting changes in the track. Often in life, like on a roller coaster, we don't see or anticipate the shifts, dips, and drops ahead. Life events come that jar and shake us, turn us upside down and often inside out. We feel like life is tossing us around like a colossal contraption, designed to scare the wits out of us.

In these times we need to sit down, strap in, and throw up our hands.

Sit Down

There is a reason that you don't ride a rollercoaster standing up (at least not back in my day....). Standing up, our center of gravity is different. Although standing allows us to run, it also allows our center of gravity to be compromised. If we sit down, and take some time to absorb and assess what ever it is we are going through, we can better navigate the ride. We can avoid reflex moves that may in the long run, not be in our best interest.

Strap In

Even if we want to get off of the crazy ride, it is in our best interest to stay strapped in until it is over. The straps support our bodies, keep us in the cars, and provide protection for us. Leaning on family, friends, and our integrity is like those straps. If we surround ourselves with the communities that support us, they will help to warn us of and protect us from the dangers of the ride. Our integrity helps us to make the right choices that benefit us in the long run.

Throw our Hands Up

There are sometimes that we just need to let be what will be. Tough and complicated things in life happen to good people - and we very often have no control over it. What we can control however is our response. Of course we need to be responsible in our actions in good and bad situations in life. But if we realize that we can't control everything, we can throw our hands up - not in surrender, but in acceptance that the bumps of life are something we endure regardless of if we want to or not.

The ride called life starts out smooth. We can see the track ahead - it looks straight and easy to travel. We feel comfortable and safe with our safety belts latched. We get in our groove, enjoy the scenery, and enjoy the ride. The all of a sudden our stomachs drop, our bodies shift and jolt. Where the sky was once above us, is now below. We loop, we twist, we scream. The wind is in our face, the breath is stolen from our lungs,and we don't know how we can make it through this ride intact. If we sit down, strap in, and throw our hands up, we will make it to the end of the rollercoaster ride - full of relief or exhilaration from the adventure we have gone through.

How do you manage the rollercoaster ride?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rearranging the Furniture


One of my daughters recently posted on her Facebook page that she had a sudden awareness that things will "never be the same." Knowing my daughter as I do, I knew that this was not a some sort of cryptic message, lament about impending doom, or teenage melodramatics. I knew that she was pondering something deep and moving as she was coming to realizations about life and growing up.

The funny thing is, that feeling isn't limited to a teenager realizing that she and those around her are growing up and moving on. As we get ready to move on to different phases of life, or if something major happens in our life plans - things change. I think we all get to feeling that way... that things will never be the same.

Change is Continual

The truth of the matter is that life is a series of constant changes and movements. It never does really stay the same. Children grow and move out of house and away from home. Many friends come into our lives for a season and then move on as we welcome other friends in. Some stay with us for a lifetime but even those relationships are in a constant state of change. Loved ones are with us, shape us, form us, and then pass on. Jobs, skills, and interests wax and wane through our years. Whether we want it to or not, time, life, the world, even we are in a constant state of change.

However, we can take some comfort in some of the constants.

Our Life as A Home

If we look at our lives like a home that we are building for our selves to inhabit, we can see all these things that change as pieces of furniture to put into that house. The pieces are heirlooms, pieces of comfort, pieces of whimsical enjoyment, and practical and logical pieces. Some are steeped in tradition and represent our values and attitudes. Some provided for us and our children. Some we outgrew, others have lasted and grown with us. Many of the pieces are prominently displayed for a lifetime, while others are tucked away in the attic or basement. Regardless of how these pieces look now, where they are placed or stored, they are all real and have some sort of lasting presence. The change is not a disappearance of the furniture, it is simply a rearranging of it.

Life is Not Static

Life is not static. Life is dynamic, ever evolving and changing. Change is not a disappearance of the pieces, it is simply them moving around. We could benefit from not mourning the loss of what was, but by looking at the change of a rearranging of the furniture in our lives.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Letting Them Go and Watching Them Fly

Letting Go

I like to think that my writing serves and inspirational purpose for those that read it. I think in many ways it does. But truth be told, often, I am writing to myself. What I am writing now, I hope will be inspirational or comforting to others, But, admittedly, it is cathartic. It is to help me through a particular phase in my life. Many of you may be in the phase too.

This phase of life is about letting go - specifically, letting kids go.


My girls are now 22, 17, and 14. They are all at milestones in their lives. My oldest is moving out of state for a promotion with her employer. My middle daughter and youngest daughter are a senior and freshman in high school. All of these things are milestones for them.

These milestones are the beginnings of chapters in their lives that are teaching them who and how to be in the world. The are growing, exploring, and taking in the world around them as they are introduced to new ides and new people. They are in a part of their life when they can truly write the words on the pages that make up a huge part of their identity. Opportunities are theirs, unencumbered by obligations and anchors to geographical locations. It is a time when they can spread their wings and take in the wonderful world around them.

These are milestones for me as well. As proud as I am of them, for me in my role as mom, the milestones represent the closing of chapters in my life. Selfishly, I am sad for me that their dependence on me is changing. It is painful as I have to let a part of "me" evolve and change into who they are meant to be, apart from me. It means that I have to evolve into a person that I am not used to being - a person without three other beings in my presence and under my responsibility 24 hours a day. As they discover who they are, I have to rediscover who I am.

Pain and Joy

Although this is hard for me, I would never trade their growth and independence for my own desire to avoid the changes that come along with their blossoming into who they are in the world. God designed us to be want for our children the things that make them complete. It isn't easy, and it isn't fun. It is tough, but I will get through it. I am a mom, and that is what we moms do. We dig in, and we get the job done. What I can take solace in is that the pain of letting them go will be soothed by the joy of watching them fly.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Necessity of Being Needed.

We need to be needed, but neediness of others fuels our own neediness from others, but not being needed leaves us empty with no place to live out our purpose.....

Whew! hat was a mouthful. Pretty tough to type too....

Well hopefully I can clarify.

Being needed is a double edged sword.

We need to be needed. As a parents it is sort of a prerequisite to the job of parenting, meeting the needs expressed and unexpressed of our children. We feed them when they are hungry, clothe them to protect them from the elements, provide them shelter, love them unconditionally, cry with them and comfort them when they need support, cheer them when they need encouragement, discipline them when they are heading down the wrong path, and do all we can to ensure that they make it to the milestone of becoming an independent adult. In essence, our job of "parent" is based on the need of needing someone to meet another person's needs.

As a spouse we need to be needed too. We enter into a relationship and partnership with someone largely because of needs. We have a need for connection, a need for a place where we can mutually share life's burdens and support each other, and a need to have the stability and comfort of a "safe place" with them. There would no reason for a partnership of the people in the relationship did not need each other. In a healthy relationship each should express and feel need.

First side: Being needed acknowledges our purpose.

Being needed, in essence acknowledges us and gives us a sense of purpose - a place to live out who and what we are meant to be. Need and purpose are opposing tensions.... they need each other to exist. We all want to feel that someone needs us, that we do have a reason and a purpose in other peoples lives, and in our own lives. In the spirit of Michale J Hyde (a communication scholar) being needed feeds our purpose or "love of life." This is probably why the "empty nest" phase of life is so hard. We are not as needed on a day to day basis as our kids grow. It's probably a reason why relationships go south - when one or both people are not, or feel that they are not needed, a main purpose for the relationship is gone.

Second side: Being needed can drain us.

Conversely, being too needed can be draining and just as difficult as not being needed. When we are continually needed, we spend all of our efforts meeting the needs of others. Taking care of the need others, (although to some extent an obligation, responsibility and a purpose) saps our energy. We get weighed down and tired as our purpose gets lost in the task and duty of managing them. We need to have our needs met, but can't get them met because they are lost in the neediness (there's that tough thought again!) Again from Hyde, we experience a "suffocating embrace" of our existence. We feel called, lead and want to meet others needs, but the purpose begins to close in on us.

So what's the sheath?

For each of us, the sheath is going to be different.

It might be that we should evaluate why we need to be needed. It it masking another need? Is it our only purpose? We may simply strive to redefine what it truly means to us to be needed. Or in some cases we should re-evaluate relationships and whether the level of need is healthy and appropriate. In dealing with the neediness of others, what may be necessary is to see if our desire to fulfill their neediness is actually healthy and what they do "need," and is it healthy for us to fill it every time.

Whatever the sheath is for each of us, it is about balance. There is a necessity to be needed. Purpose and need exist together. However, if we move too far from either side center, we are going to feel the cut of the blade.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shining Bright in Life Changing Events

Our existence is full of life changing events.

We experience many events in life that change us. Sometimes the events are something we are expecting to come along and we can prepare somewhat for them. Sometimes the events are a complete, out of left field, out right shock.

The events can be good and move us in positive directions - an unexpected job promotion, meeting the special someone, winning the lottery (hey I can dream....). We like the good events. We even welcome them. Those types of events help us keep a positive outlook . They confirm that our existence is running smoothly, moving forward, and moving upward. They give us in some ways, affirmation of our worth, our ability, and our importance in the world. Our view of the world around us is less cynical and critical when we feel good about how bright our own personal light is shining.

But the events can be difficult, hurtful, and turn our lives upside down - the loss of a loved one or relationship, betrayal, injury or illness. We don't like those events. Who would? They shake us to our core, make us question who we are and who others are. They can damage the way we look at our selves and the world around us. Often these types of events take away the things that give us our value, our sense of self or worth, or even the thing that our world revolves around. We can become angry, cynical and stuck in a "victimized" state of mind. Our flame falters and our light is dimmed.

We have have natural tendencies of how we handle them.

Positive reactions to good events and negative reactions to the tough events is probably our natural tendency and not really all that unexpected. The reactions to the good events... well we can probably get through life just fine by letting those events build us up. It's the tough events that we need to watch out for. To live a healthy and fulfilled life we often will need to go against our natural instinct and tendency in how we let those events change us.

But, we do have a choice in many of the ways in which the events change us!

Of course we need to not deny the event and fully process and deal with it. We need to grieve appropriately. But once that process is done, instead of being focused on what was lost, we need to choose to shift to what we still have, what we have gained, or what was always there that we did not see. It is not always easy, but it is necessary. If we have lost a relationship, we may have gained a piece of ourselves back that was lacking because of it, or it may lead to a more fulfilling one. If we have been betrayed, we have gained insight and can have better discernment the next time. If we have lost an ability, we can find, claim and hone others. We can use the events to realize how amazing we still are.

We have a choice in how the events of life change us. The good ones are an amazing gift that fan our flames and make us bright. But when the bad ones come along, we have a choice to let it snuff out or light, or find new kindling and fuel for the fire.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grudges and Boundaries

Do carry a grudge? Or Do you set Boundaries?

Over the past few weeks, I have had several deep discussions with my daughters in various topics- social issues, relationship issues, finances, personal accountability, personality and identity. You name it, we have talked about it. (Many of the topics may spur their own posts!)

One was particularly poignant. Understanding the difference between grudges and boundaries.

It doesn't really matter what spawned the conversation, but the content brought me to a parenting moment and an obligation - a passing on of a lesson that took me a long time to learn in my own life: understanding what it means to hold a grudge and what it is to set a boundary.


A grudge is much like the heavy door that you see in the photo above. It is a barrier that only has two options, access or being locked out. It is a barrier that locks in our own anger, pain and hurt, while at the same time locking out relationship with the other person and the opportunity for us to reclaim our freedom from whatever it was that hurt us. Conversely, ignoring the issue that causes us pain is like the door being swung wide open, leaving the treasures of our selves vulnerable to raid.


Boundaries are different. Boundaries are like a picket fence. It is a clear defining line of an area that needs permission to be entered into by another yet it still allows for a clear view of the parties on either side of the fence. A boundary allows the freedom and breathing room to recover from and feel safe from those things that may have hurt us. It gives us room to move and find our footing while at the same time, making it clear what can or cannot happen within our space.

Understanding the Difference

When we are young, we don't always have the maturity and life experience to understand the difference between them. We think that we either have to close and lock the vault door or keep it wide open. As a result, we may either shut out another or continue to get hurt. As we age, we start to know ourselves more, become more confident, and see more interactions and examples of how people interact. We understand that there can be a healthy alternative to holding a grudge.

We replace the heavy door with a picket fence.

The picket fence tells others that they are welcomed, but there are things that are allowed within the fence-line and things that are not. The fence creates a healthy boundary for interaction that benefits both parties. It lets the person setting the boundary feel safe in interaction and self disclosure. It sets the clear ground rules for interaction for the other person, eliminating uncertainty and anxiety in interaction, allowing the relationship to move forward.

Easy to Hold and Weighs Us Down VS. Courage and Work to Set, but Frees Us
Holding a grudge is easy. It in essence allows us to not truly deal with an issue. But in the long run, we carry the anger, anxiety and fear of recurrence with us. It weighs us down. We stay fixated on the barrier that the grudge puts between us and the other. Even though we think it is a way to keep from being hurt, the energy we expend holding onto it eventually takes its toll.

Setting a boundary is not as easy in the short term. It takes courage and work to set. It is not always comfortable. As we move through life, some of our boundary setting is subtle, and some of it must be bold. That's ok. That is healthy. There will be times when a look is enough to say "You crossed the line with me." There are times when we actually have to verbally express what our boundaries are. That may require mustering up the courage to confront the issue and the person, but it frees from the fear of recurrence as it empowers us to hold our ground and feel safe.

I hope she took away some understanding of the difference. I also hope she understands that it is OK and a very healthy thing to set boundaries, even with those that you love. It took me many years of adulthood before I understood the difference between the two. Once I did, I found myself feeling a lot less hurt by others, a lot more empowered to control my own happiness, and much more confident in who I am.

What do you do? Do you hold grudges or do you set boundaries?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fortyness: Stepping Out!

In our 20's, stepping out was all about being the center of attention. Perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect actions..... it was all about us wanting to catch another's eye. Sometimes it was to connect with that special guy or gal. Sometimes it was to strut our peacock feathers. Sometimes it was just to be the topic of someone's conversation.

In our 30's stepping out was all about gaining the approval of others. Perfect play dates, perfect parenting, perfect volunteering opportunities..... it was all about wanting someone else to think we were doing a good job, we were good parents, and we fit into the mold that made us part of the in-group.

The 40's are different. Stepping out has a different purpose.

At this time in life, we start to care less about being the center of attention or being the center of the in group. In our 40's, we want less to be the center of another's world and want more to be centered in ourselves. We step out to make a difference because it matters to us, because we were afraid to in our younger days because of what others would think, and because we see it is time to feed our selves as we begin our middle life years.

In my fortyness I am stepping out boldly. Although many of my roles in life aren't changing - I am still and always a mom and I am still a wife to my husband.... but the job descriptions do change. I need to understand who I am outside of those roles. Stepping out allows me to understand me. It allows me to explore those things that I've always wanted to do. It lets me discover pieces of me that were either buried or that I didn't even know existed.

So what have I done in my fortyness to step out?

I graduated college.
I learned to rock climb.
I started a blog.
I started a website.
I have reached out and contacted people boldly to make connections and friends.
I have started an internet radio show.
I have made opportunities to speak in public.
I have searched for and found my voice.
I have embraced my own idea of creativity.

It's your turn....what are you going to do, or what have you done in your fortyness to step out?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hat Trick Tips - Paper Beads!

Fun, easy, and inexpensive paper beads make a great summertime project to fill the "I'm bored!" time! Great for parents and kids. Your imagination is your only limit with this project!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fortyness - Embracing Your Einstein

Has this ever scenario ever happened to you?

Woman and Man (insert your own names....) attend a corporate party with all of the co-workers and big wigs of the company. Business talk, small talk and corporate conversational etiquette ensue as the topic of the moment turns to Alma maters, degrees, corporate positions and accomplishments. The business rhetoric makes its way around the sea of well dressed, well versed, well educated, and highly accomplished gathering of faces. You feel the tension build like an overstretched rubber band as the discussion approaches you. Here it comes, the questions.... your answers....

Q: So, what do you do?
A: I stay home and raise our kids.
Q: What's your Alma Mater?
A: MU, Mom University - (chuckling)

The conversation quickly moves past. Eyes, faces and even bodies turn away to face the next "professional" person. You could feel it coming, you withstood the discomfort of the questioning, then had to stay as you felt minimized, overlooked, undereducated, and just plain less than the others in the room.

Now this scenario doesn't have to revolve around a corporate setting or be hung upon degrees, status, or position. It could be hung upon an interest or industry that is not shared by you, but by others in the room. It also doesn't have to be the woman who feels less... it could be the man as well.

The point is that when we feel left out, like we have nothing to contribute, like we haven't met the same goals, position, or status as others, sometimes we just feel... well.... less.

In fortyness we have each had a lot of life experience that has made us at least proficient in many of the necessary functions of life, and most likely experts at others. What we may feel like we "lack" (it really is just non-familiarity or non-interest) in one area, we more than make up for in another. We may feel like we know nothing about the conversation in the room full of financial analysts talking about macro-economics, but we might be an expert at connecting with, and understanding people. We may not be able to do the complex formulas that the analysts are spouting off like slang, but we can watch their body language and see the messages behind the words they are saying.

In fortyness we each need to embrace our inner Einsteins. Einstein was not a genius at everything he did. He probably didn't master EVERYTHING. He was human, and so are we. But he was a genius as somethings - as are we. Those things have tremendous value and are a part of what makes our lives, our relationships, and the world function. We must not overlook our own strengths, compare them to other's strengths, or think that they are any less important or necessary than others.

So, at the next encounter when we feel like we are not worthy or smart enough to be in on the conversation, we should listen with interest - we just might see that we really do understand more of it than we realized. But more importantly, we need to realize that our inner Einsteins are alive and well, contributing to different conversations and making the world a better place.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fortyness - Owning the Foundation

Have you ever built a house of cards? Have you ever played that marble game where the players pull the sticks and see who's final pull drops all of the marbles?

I guess in theory these are sort of opposites - one game builds up, the other takes down. But, one thing they do have in common is that they are both a lot like life in Fortyness.

Both games have multiple pieces. All of the pieces work together to build a structure that is the crux of the game. A deck of cards has 52 "pieces" that are stacked, leaned and balanced to create a finished structure. The marble game has a multitude of sticks that are threaded together in a tower to create a net in which the marbles are poured.

In both games, the object is to keep something from falling. The one who places the card that makes the house fall is the one who loses the game. The ill-fated stick pull that dumps all of the marbles leaves one unlucky player in last place. The goal for either is to win the game.

Both games are a challenge individually and against other players in the game. There is individual strategy that each player employs to position themselves to win the game. Yet, no matter what plans are made, they are constantly changing, altered, and manipulated by the moves that others make. They both take quick thinking, rethinking, and flexibility to finish the game - win or lose.

There is one final way that the games are similar. It is not in the goal, the strategy or the end result in the game. It is in what is overlooked. In playing both games, of course the players find a space that is large enough to play the game. But how often is the foundation considered an integral part of the game?

So how is this like life in Fortyness?

At this point in life we have been in the game of life for a while. We have stacked the cards, come up with strategies, figured out how play off of others moves, and probably had our fair share of wins. We've been focused on admiring the house, looking at our stacks of sticks successfully pulled and ultimately winning the game - or goals that we have set.

However, in Fortyness, we've also had some losses. This is where the foundation that the game is played on is important.

The right foundation creates stability. The house of cards needs a base that is stable, sturdy, and level so that the house doesn't start out doomed. The sticks that hold the marbles are threaded through a foundation that keeps them firmly in place until they are pulled by the players. As we stack our cards and pull our sticks of life, if we have taken ownership of our foundation, we are in a better place to have our structures hold strong. Even more important, if our structures do fall, then we have a firm place to rebuild from.

In Fortyness, we must own our foundations - maintain them and repair them when needed. This part of the game is not dependent on any other player but ourselves. With the proper care, we can keep the foundation strong and buildable as we play and replay the game of life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fortyness - Finding Community

Fortyness is a time when we need community.

Throughout the other decades in our life, most of us have had some sort of automatic involvement with a community just by the mere fact that we are around people that have a shared interest with us. In our childhood, we had schoolyard and neighborhood friends that were our in-group simply because of our closeness to one another. In our teens, our bus mates, classmates and lunch buddies gave us a sense of belonging. In our twenties, workmates, other playgroup moms and dads, and even our parents (yes, we realized how much they REALLY knew) became our confidants and cohorts as we navigated our way in the world. In our thirties, our children became the axis of our community as we taxied to sports games, school commitments, the school pick up line, and the multitude of kid related activities that dominated our lives and schedules. We had a built in support system - or at least a common ground with groups of others that could in some respect understand what our day to day existence entailed, and often walk the tough roads with us.

Then comes Fortyness....... and it is very different.

Although every decade, and day for that matter, brings change , this one brings some challenge. Our sense of community and belonging takes on a different shape as our roles and connections that are automatic with those roles change. Relationships morph and reshape, along with our attachments. Some that were close become distant. Some that were steady and strong suddenly disappear as the reality of mortality reminds us that we really are destructible. Our children grow and go. Our jobs, mates and tangible belongings that once defined and created a temporary dwelling place for us to have community, no longer are enough. We find ourselves like the one helium balloon that has broken loose - seeing that there is a place for us, but drifting and floating not quite knowing how to find our way back to the bunch.

In Fortyness, we must be bold. We must go out and find community, make community or open a space for someone like us that is feeling the same way - so that they may have community. We can't wait for it to come to us - because it won't. We must be intentional about it, reaching out to and for others. The things and others that have been a part of us have shaped our expectations of commonness. But by opening our eyes, hearts, and mind to all the possibilities of connection with others, we will develop a place of support, connection and fellowship.

In Fortyness, we don't have to be that drifting balloon. We will find community, giving us a safe place to navigate this road in life.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fortyness - Walking a Mile in Their Shoes 2011

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 truly make a difference in the world, each in their own 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.

Last year at this time (on my birthday), I gave them each a gift of a pair of white canvas shoes and a pack of permanent markers. I asked of them to cover them with artwork that represented who they are, who they want to be, all their hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, successes and failures. They could write words, symbols, pictures - what ever it was that gave a picture of who they think they are. Then, I asked them to give them back to me.

The shoes were my size. I wanted to be able to put them on my feet and walk a mile in their shoes, feeling who they saw themselves to be.

The photo below is what I received back from them - beautiful artwork from my beautiful daughters. I see that each one of them sees themselves as beautiful, creative, strong, smart, faithful, loving, sentimental, yet still cherishing and needing the security of the mother daughter bond we have. I am so proud of them

I am so blessed that in my fortyness, I get to walk a mile in their shoes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fortyness - When you Stumbled

To my beautiful daughters, I love you forever.

When you were two and you stumbled,
I picked you up
and cradled you until you were all right again.

When you were eight and you stumbled,
I held out my hand to you to raise you up
and hugged you until you were all right again.

When you were sixteen and you stumbled,
I got down on the ground with you and encouraged you until you were back on your feet
and held your hand until you were all right again.

Now, when you stumble,
although my heart breaks and wants to pick you up and cradle you,
I meet your eyes, encouraging you,
knowing that you have the strength to place your feet beneath you and raise yourself up
and I love you through it, until you are all right again.

Photo by Becky Mozilo

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fortyness - Just a few more steps

I am exhausted.

I'm not talking about the my eyes are kind of heavy and I need a catnap kind of tiredness. I am talking about the full body, full brain, and full consciousness kind of exhausted.

You see, I have been on a journey. It's been a long journey. I have had times when I was euphoric at the progress I was making and feeling like I had it all in my hat. I have had days when I felt blocked and the hurdle was just too big to leap over. I have had days when everything seemed to come crashing down, endangering my journey and my chance at reaching my destination. I have shed tears, pulled my hair in exacerbation, thrown my hands up in the air, and laughed like a madwoman to keep from losing my sanity -well maybe I lost a bit of sanity along the way, but that's another story for another day.....

This journey wasn't the journey of raising my kids, although that has been one amazing journey. It wasn't a journey of hitting a physical goal like completing a half marathon - although I've done a couple of those. It was not a journey navigating through a major life disruption and crisis, although I have had plenty of those too. It wasn't even a journey through marriage, financial woes, or friendships. It was the journey of writing a Senior Paper for my Bachelor's degree.

This evening, I put the final period on the final page of my complete draft of a paper that has been my existence for the last three months. Of course through this part of my existence I had to negotiate every other part of my existence (my kids, household, job, family, husband, etc) yet still manage to live, breathe, eat, sleep, and write this paper. I truly felt like I would never finish or survive long enough to finish it. But, I existed in this paper a few steps at a time to get to where I am with it today. This evening I reached the point that I can say that I only have hours of editing left to do instead of weeks of writing. The final period marked the turning point of just a few more steps to go. With that last key stroke, the exhaustion came upon me, and tears began to roll.

This paper process is a lot like life in fortyness. In this phase of life, we have experienced so many things that we thought we could never manage or get through. We have had crisis, responsibility, duty, even goals that seemed impossible. We were tired, haggard, beat up and exhausted from the trip. But we got through them a few steps at a time. We stayed the course, looking a few paces ahead with the end goal somewhere in our consciousness. By just putting one foot in front of the other, we can now look back and see how far we have come. We have reached our goals, or can look ahead and at least see the finish line.

In fortyness, we need to be conscious that many journeys are reaching mileposts, or coming to an end. There are many of those journeys - the uphill climb journeys of raising small children, the "I can't wait to get to this point" journeys, the raising teenager journeys - that when looking back have passed in the blink of an eye. It is a bittersweet thing. There is rest in front of us, but, the journey is where we have learned all the things that make us who we are today.

In my fortyness, I will look back and treasure most of the journeys I have been on. I recognize that not all of them were happy ones, but I will at least be happy that I finished each and every journey that life has taken me on. I am a better person for taking those few more steps to the destination.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fortyness - Springing Clean!

It is March 22, the second day of spring. The weather has been beautiful, the air crisp and clean, and the desert wild flowers are starting to bloom. It's the time of year that gets us thinking about that cleansing and refreshing ritual.... Spring cleaning.

In the next few weeks there will be tons of garage sale signs and donation trucks about the neighborhood as me and my fellow suburbanites shed our homes of a small portion of what is cluttering our personal spaces. Drawers will be gone through, that old couch will finally leave the den, the knickknacks that have collected dust for years will become the treasure of another. Closets will be emptied of those too tight, tool long, or too old pieces of clothing that we have just held on to in hopes that they will fit us again. What a refreshing feeling it will be....

This year, I will partake in the fastidious festivities of spring cleaning. There is no better way to start a new season than to de-clutter the space you are in. However, I am going to be cleaning out more than just the space between the four walls of my home.

In the third spring of my forytness, I am going to be Springing Clean! I am going to de-clutter me! It is time for those things that I have been hesitant to let go of to be tossed out, recycled, or re-purposed. That weighty bag of self doubt - I'm tired of moving it from one corner to another. That coat of worry - it takes too much energy to wear. Those shoes of desire to please everyone at every turn at every moment - it is about two decades out of fashion. And that nagging urge that I must have everything under control - well it's about as annoying as that sports watch in the junk drawer that beeps every 15 minutes. The time has come for these things to go!

In my fortyness, I want to start this season fresh. With a clean space, a clean spirit, a refreshed heart, and a clear space in my self I can a good footing to spring forward.

But first... I've got to find that sports watch in the junk drawer.... it's driving me nuts......

Thursday, March 3, 2011

FORTYNESS..... Helium and Stones

Helium and stones...What does this have to do with fortyness?

At this stage of life most of us have had a lot of life experience. Hopefully most of it has been good, but probably some of it has been not so good either. I have heard the "good stuff" referred to emotional currency deposit or filling the tank, and the bad stuff as withdrawals or emptying of the tank. Both the bank and fuel metaphors are fitting, but I look at it a bit differently. I prefer to think of it as helium and stones.

Our daily lives and travel along a plane. When good things happen, we feel good, happy, and uplifted. You know these things - coming home to a kitchen that was cleaned up by the kids without prompting, hitting every green light on the drive home, finding $20 in the pocket of the jeans you wore a month ago - that's helium. The more good, the higher we feel. The good stuff, like helium, rises us above the normalcy we exist in. It sort of makes us feel like we are floating above the plane of our everydayness. When bad things happen we feel weighed down, frustrated, and question ourselves. The struggles, kids fighting, the routineness of a job, even things that we once embraced can begin to weigh on us.

The helium and stones are contradictory to each other. One lifts us up, one pulls us down. Too much helium and we float out of reality in a constant state that can't be maintained. When we eventually fall back to normal, the thud into reality is pretty painful. When we are bogged down with too many stones we are pulled beneath the surface and suffocate. Weighted with stones climbing back up to normal is pretty tough.

With the perspective, we can keep a balance between the lift of the helium and the weight of the stones. When our feet start to lift, we should keep our eye on the ground so we remember that what we are feeling is good, but it is not what we should expect in every moment of life. When the bad happens, we should keep our gaze up to see that the stones will not always encumber us. We need to keep normal, reality, and real life in our sight. We can also change the perspective of what we define as helium and what we define as stones. Of course we will always have things that make us feel like a we are on a hot air balloon ride and things that feel like boulders crushing us. But, some of the small things in life can be a greater lift....if we let them be. Conversely, some of the stuff that seems so big and heavy can be more like a pebble than a stone if we let them be.

As fortyness sets in, I see I have a lot more control over the plane I am floating in than I realize. I can recognize those things that raise me up and those things that weight me down. I have learned when I need to let go of a balloon to keep sight of the ground, and when to empty stones out of my pockets to make my ascent easier. As the perspective of over 40 years of life experience influences how I look at things, I have learned how embrace and manage my helium and stones.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hat Tricks Creative Hat - Flip Flops!

This is a fun and easy Hat Trick tip to help you wear your creative hat!

Spring is approaching and here in Arizona that means it is the time for flip flops! Why not spruce up your footwear with a bit of sparkle!

Be sure to check out the Hat Tricks Archives for tips and tricks on juggling your hats!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fortyness - February is NOT for the Faint of Heart

Ah...February...... The month we celebrate love.

All around us we see bow and arrow armed cherubs, red foil hearts, and words of love donning store displays. If we have children we are in a frenzy to help them decorate a vessel with doilies, paper, and just the right amount of stickers to create the perfect valentine receptacle. TV commercials depict star crossed lovers, sitting hand in hand as they profess their love for each other over a plethora of fine chocolates and candle light. Velvet boxes hiding diamond laden treasures, deep red roses by the dozens, and the perfectly crafted romantic greeting card all become a part of what is the ideal picture of love.

I don't know about you, but I have only had one Valentine's Day that fit the ideal - the first one my husband and I celebrated... twenty years ago.

All the things that are put before as the prototype for celebrating love skew what love really is. Sure, it is nice to have those things and experience the commercial "romance" of it all. However, those things are at best, a spark in the flame of love, a manifestation of infatuation, or a socially created expectation of love. In reality those things do not capture the essence of love.

The essence of love the deep and enduring caring, the patience, the protection, the humbleness, the thoughtfulness, the forgiveness, and the willingness to stay by your beloved's side through thick and thin. It is hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and giving to the other, not receiving. Of course when we love, we need love in return, but the essence of love is not self-centered, but other-centered. It is not for those not willing to put in the effort. It is not for the faint of heart.

In my fortyness, I see the celebration of love in everyday actions, not just in this one month of the year. It is not in flowers or candy or gemstones. It is in the moments that I can see and know how much love I experience. It is in the moments when I am unlovable but receive love anyway. It is in the moments that anger thick, but love is the knife that slices it. It is in the unseemingly romantic instances between me and my husband. It is in the deep love I feel for my children.

Sitting at dinner last night with my husband, he made a comment about Valentine's Day and our daughters. He said, "I want my girls to know that as long as I am around, they will always have a date for Valentine's Day." Seeing how big his heart is, and how deep his love runs.... that is romantic. That is a true celebration of love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fortyness - In the Thickness of Life

Many of you know that I have returned to school and am working on a communication degree. One of the concepts that is prominent in the scholarly world of communication is the idea of thick descriptions. This idea is that life is understood by the self and others through a myriad of factors...not just the straight forward aspects that are visible. It has to do with context, history, relationships, culture.... there is a lot of thickness to swim through to get to understanding.

I think that this time of life -fortyness, is much like that. It is thick.

By this time we all can probably feel the resistance as we wade through life. We have all probably encountered some bad things. We have had to navigate through trials, loss, and change. Sometimes the outcomes were for the better, and sometimes they were not. Each negative experience impacts how we see, act out and understand the lives we have.

But, this time can feel thick even when things are going well. Even in the great events of life, it may seem like more energy is expended through our emotions and actions. We are so grateful for the good things, yet we "feel" the impact of those great events. We ponder them more, reflect on them more and incorporate them into our view of the world.

Be it negative or positive, each experience increases the viscosity of our daily existence. Our understanding and movement through our fortyness is impacted as each experience alters the context, the history, the relationships and the culture that we exist in. Things that in our twenetyness would seem trite and unimportant, now carry more weight and credibility. Conversely, things that seemed huge in our twenties, are now understood to be simply the life exercises that have given us the stamina to trudge through the thickness of life.

So, what are we to do as we drag ourselves through the resistance of this thickness? Do we look at it as an impediment? Or do we see it as a protective and helpful tension that causes us to slow down and understand life a bit more? In our fortyness, I propose that however we view the thickness, we should not let it weigh us down. Instead, we should understand it as a part of our being in this time of life. Everything that has contributed to it is a part of the narrative that makes us who we are.