Piss off, Pinterest.

pinterest-fail

I’m looking at you Pinterest, Instagram, Fakebook, and Photoshop. You’ve left me feeling a little bit LESS THAN. You’ve taken the concept of Keeping Up With the Joneses (or Kardashians, blech) to a whole new level, squared. No worries though, I’m throwing in the towel. I’ve decided I can’t keep up and am jumping off that train.

I have found my people… Pinterestfail.com “where good intentions come to die” and Celeste Barber, a hilarious Australian comedian that has recreated celebrity selfies. Take a moment and look this stuff up. Crying. Oh my gosh, these are my people.

celeste-barber

Have you started to feel a bit like you’re in 7th grade again looking at all these airbrushed beauties and their carefully cultivated on-line presence? You know it’s not all real, every day can’t be THAT fabulous for others, but somehow you feel left out? I didn’t love 7th grade. Did ANYONE?! And then…I remembered to laugh. I mean really, people. Life is messy, sometimes beautiful, but often funny.

I identify with Bridget Jones. Do you?  That is one Jones that I could run with. I’ve always wanted to be British, am slightly chubby, prone to failure, and we both love Colin Firth. Who doesn’t? My daughter gave me Colin Firth on a stick a few years ago on Mother’s Day. “What would be the best gift, Mom?” Colin Firth on a stick was always my answer. It remains my favorite gift of all time, but I digress.

colin-firth

I think somewhere we’ve started to lose the ability to laugh at ourselves. We’ve started keeping score with others daily and thinking it’s a real thing. I fail all the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I often share my failures with others, because sometimes they’re hilarious. The picture of the stairs at the beginning of this post? Those are my back steps. Piss off, Pinterest. I couldn’t even get the damn window cling idea to work. I mean, really. Failure at window clings? That’s funny.

Last weekend my niece got married. I showed up to decorate her hotel suite with rose petals, battery operated tea lights, and champagne. I got patted down at the door for bringing liquor into the establishment. I had to wait with the security guard until I confirmed that I was the one paying for the room and wasn’t some deranged drunk trying to ruin someone’s wedding night. Oh my stars, was I embarrassed, but how much did my sisters laugh when I told them? Tears.

So today, tomorrow, and next week let’s all work at laughing more and judging less. Let’s try to remember we’re not in 7th grade. I don’t really care what you have as long as you’re nice to others. Piss off, Pinterest. I’ve found my lunch table and we’re absolutely freaking hilarious. Fail on, friends!

Keep sharing moxie. Sign-up for emails below so you don’t miss a post! And to my new international subscribers, welcome!!

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Lawnmower parents, please stop.

lawnmower-race

Dear Lawnmower Parents,

Please stop. We’ve moved on from helicopter parents to you and I don’t like it one bit. Helicopters would hover, but you seek to mow down every obstacle in your child’s path. You aren’t helping, you’re suffocating. Unless you plan to move to college with your kids (if you can get them to leave you), please turn off your engines now to listen for a bit.

I just spent the last few days trying to register kids for a college fair. I am passionate about college and will do what I can to help any child get there. I found around 5 of every 25 students in a room didn’t know their home address or didn’t know their parent’s number. One would think this might be a bit embarrassing for them, not so much. “Just wait, I need to text my mom to find out my address. She usually does all this stuff for me.” These were teenagers that didn’t know where they lived. This wasn’t a remedial class, nor was this a transient population. They were juniors and seniors in a small midwestern town.

I had a conversation with a parent recently that confessed that she had a pen taken out of her hand when she was trying to fill out her daughter’s forms at college. She was told that she wasn’t the student. That’s right. You as a parent are not the student. You aren’t the entry level worker and you aren’t the athlete on the field. Stop acting like you are. Every time you grab the pen, yell at the coach, and demand an answer from a teacher you rob your child of the opportunity to learn something on their own, conflict management.

If our job as parents is to give our children roots and wings, we need to concentrate a little more on the wings part.

Your kids are amazing. They can do great things if you let them. Problem solving is one of the most important skills you can allow your kids to develop. Let them deal with the problems of life, school, work, and sports while they are safe in your home with a soft place to land. Allow them to stumble a bit.

If a teenager doesn’t know where they live, what their parent’s phone number is (unless they look in their contacts) and can’t boil water we have then successfully churned out a generation that has less self-help skills than the generation before them. Granted, they may be able to program your t.v., but if they can’t tell the dispatcher where you live to send the fire trucks…

Your child should be able to complete algebra, write a coherent essay, and pass a citizenship test when they graduate from high school. That is the work of educators and the effort of your children. If your child knows how to wash clothes, make a few meals, mow a lawn, use their manners and remember their home address, that’s on you. Stay off your lawnmower long enough to teach them.

Thank you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Welcome to the family-

Dear Newbie,

Today you will take the hand of beautiful girl. Her father will “give her away” today, but that’s not how it really works. You know that, right? She is joining your family and taking your last name, but we had her first.

I have loved this child since the day of her birth. I’ve been blessed that her mom and dad were willing to share her with me. Your parents are sharing today, too. Weddings are beautiful, but they are hard. Something new is beginning, but an entire way of life is ending. This joy stings.

I’ve learned that families become stronger when you open yourself up to others. We have adopted people, friends have become family, and today you are formally joining our family, but it doesn’t happen in a day. Families become what they are over a hundred gatherings of pizza, beer, and scrabble. The easter egg hunts that become legend and the inside jokes that make people laugh so hard they hurt. You’ll learn.

All I can ask is this: strive to be worthy of her. Every day. She’s lovely inside and out. Every family wants the next generation to be all of the good stuff and less of the bad. Her parents and their combined gene pool knocked it out of the park with her. She’s a hell of a lot nicer, kinder, and goodness personified than all of us on our best days. Don’t take this for granted.

You love her. That’s where it all starts. You haven’t been really tested yet, but you will be. Life will eventually throw death, loss, change, and hardship your way. It happens to all of us. How you struggle through it sets the tone for the rest. If you continue to come back to a place of love, you’ll be alright.

Welcome to the swirling vortex that is our tribe. The woman that you are walking down the aisle today used to love to twirl around in dresses. Did you know that? She used to shout out, “Watch me, watch me! Are you watching me?” I’ve been watching since the beginning. I’m honored to watch you both together now. Keep her twirling and you’ll always have a seat at my table. Welcome to the family. We’ve been waiting for you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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The French Press Dilemma…

frenchpress

My daughter thinks she’s had a rough week. Her french press jammed and her Insta-Hot machine broke. Are you freaking kidding me? This takes #firstworldproblems to a whole new level. I’ve worked hard to make sure that my kids have been afforded different opportunities than I did, but I think I’ve gotten it wrong. Really wrong.

I’m taking my daughter to Europe next June, but now I really feel that what she needs is a mission trip. My intentions in supporting, protecting, and loving her to bits has been well intentioned, but maybe I’ve been missing the mark. Maybe we’re all doing a little too much here with this generation. If her world is rocked by her french press jamming…with her private tea collection…in her walk-in closet, um… good grief.

Let me be clear, this isn’t her fault. She hasn’t been exposed to the harsh realities of life, and that’s on me. It’s Memorial Day this weekend and when I think about past generations stepping up to serve, I am humbled. These brave men and women went into battle, whether they always agreed with the fight or not, to serve and to protect. They were moved by something greater than themselves.

As parents and grandparents, we try to do better, for our children and grandchildren to have more, better, and in greater abundance than we did. In all things though, there must be a balance. I think we’ve reached the tipping point. I’m not going to bash teenagers today, because I know some awesome kids with untapped potential. It’s easy to pick on “kids today”. I think we’ve always done that, which is a cop out. Today, I’m going to say “parents today”. I include myself in this merry gang of enablers. Let’s step up.

I don’t want my legacy to be a kid that crumbles over a french press, but one that leans in and serves. I don’t want to ask less or her, to make her comfortable, because it’s just easier for me to do things. I want her to know how to make a meal, take care of herself, look people in the eye, and help others. I want my daughter to be a person I want to spend time with, and that others do, too. This is on me. At a certain point it will be on her, but today, it’s me. And you.

The world is already full of wankers; let’s try to do better. Let’s say “no” more. Sacrifice is something that was once well known, it’s unheard of today. Delayed gratification was once a given, but it’s something that we must intentionally cultivate now. French press boot camp starts today. Hold on to your i-phones, this mom just got a backbone.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Find your tribe. Love them. Fiercely.

It’s Mother’s Day. Find your tribe. Love them. Fiercely. Mothers and mothering take many forms. I am a mother, and I have many children that I look out for, whether I’m on their birth certificate or not. I’m lucky to have a mother, a step-mother, an adopted mother, bossy sisters, a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, best friends. My life is teeming with mothers. Some of them have biological children and some don’t. They all mother. Fiercely. 

I ordered flowers yesterday from a local shop in my home town. It was a somewhat surreal experience. I called in a order and they already had my name on file. I realized it’s because the last time I sent flowers it was for a funeral. Don’t start with me about how Mother’s Day is a commercial wasteland. I’ll use my teacher’s voice (and it’s scary). Order the flowers now. Don’t wait for a hospitalization or a funeral. Send the cards now. The texts. The two second Facebook post.

Your mother may be living or not. You’re still being mothered by someone. Mothering takes many forms. It’s beautiful and gritty and ugly. One day isn’t nearly enough to honor the sanctity and near sainthood that these women hold in your heart. Say something real to someone who has mothered you today. Make it count.

Keep sharing moxie!

Grief: The Third Rail

If social security is the third rail of politics, grief is the third rail of life. Few want to talk about it and no one wins this battle in the end. It dims, changes, and morphs, but never leaves. I will not pretend to have the corner market on grief, because every person has their own story. Whether you have lost a parent, a child, a sister, a dog, a friend; grief changes you. It scrapes away the facade,  and what is left is often startling and raw.

I have a sweet picture of my son being held by his Grandpa. Shortly after the picture was taken, he lost the last vestiges of memory. He forgot where he lived and who we were. Every loss is unique, debilitating and, usually, devastating. Death is death. This is not a contest. Who wants to scoop up on the prize of greatest loss? Um, yeah, no one, that’s who.

I was once at a dinner where Rudy Giuliani spoke. I remember little of what he discussed other than the number of funerals he attended around the clock after 9/11. The one quote that stuck with me is this, “Weddings are optional, but showing up in times of grief? Absolutely necessary.” So true. It’s incredibly easy to be a part of the events where joy abounds: a wedding, a baptism, a graduation. To show up at a funeral, and embrace the awkward silences and tears? Those are the people you remember. “Grief forces you see: who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore, and who always will.”
I think grief is the 3rd rail because even though it’s always there, it’s something that we tend to want to smooth over quickly, to move past as fast as possible. I’ve decided recently though that there is something really beautiful in taking time to talk to someone, to listen, to see their eyes fill with tears, while tears well up in your own. It’s real, it’s raw, and it resonates.
Embracing someone in their sadness is often a forced pursuit. It doesn’t come naturally to most, and it’s actively avoided by many. In one of my first jobs I was placed in situations to sit at the bedside of others that were dying and didn’t have anyone to be with them. This remains, to this day, some of the most heartbreaking memories of mine. To be at the end of your life and have a stranger placed at your bedside to hold your hand? I’ve worked hard to establish and maintain relationships to avoid this very scenario, not dying, that will come for all of us, but to die alone or with a paid stranger? Please, no, no, no. If you want a reality check on the life you’re living, take a moment now to imagine yourself in your final moments. Who is there and who isn’t? If you need to get to work on some things, here’s your nudge of encouragement.
It’s been a sad week for some lovely people for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps you fall into this mix. You know the difference between the rushing “how are you” and “no, really, pause, pause, pause, eye contact, how are you?”. It such a gift to be listened to, isn’t it? I just don’t think there’s a replacement for it. So here’s my challenge for all of you, dear readers, grieve and let others be grieve with you. To allow someone in, really in, when you’re broken to down to basics and rubbed raw, is a gift, and such a compliment. That they would share this honest moment with you? Yes.
Be real and allow others be real, too. Be charitable when grief gets ugly, because sometimes it can be very, very ugly and angry. Look people in the eye and share their sadness. Grief is awkward, halting, consuming, and distancing. Cards are nice, e-mails are thoughtful, but showing up is priceless. Show up for the hard stuff. Even with your awkward silence, side hugs, and sweaty hands, show up for the hard stuff. 

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Keep sharing moxie.

Plan C, D, & E

Going with Plan A is easy peasy. Rolling with Plan B?  Most can. It’s the person that can rock Plan C, D & E that I want in my bomb shelter and on my speed dial.

This brings to mind my Aunt Mary, a coffee can filled with pee, and a messed up pan of rice krispie bars.

My Aunt Mary rocked plan C, D, & E often in her life with panache. Quick to laugh at herself, she was able to carry off many things that would leave others crying in their coffee grounds. Family legend says Aunt Mary once brought  a pan of bars that had 5 different kinds of cereal, but really it was only 3. Families can have long memories about a little slip-up, right? 😉  As I recall, the bars started out as Rice Krispies, but running out of those, she added Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles. Those were some fine looking multi-colored squares of sugar, clearly illustrating making do with what you have. (This week I had my own Mary Moment resulting in a quick and dirty batch of no-bake cookies. These were made when plan A, B, & C were utter failures).

I’ve never been painted in a corner, but I have been painted upstairs. Honestly. I was playing with my cousin, visiting Aunt Mary, and she painted the stairs in a somewhat Amelia Bedelia move, with us on a upper level. Ever the problem solver, she pitched food up the stairs till we could come down without messing up the paint. Truly one of my favorite memories at her home.

Everyone has a Griswold family vacation story or two in their back pocket. Ours was a multi-family caravan road trip to Wyoming. Before cell phones, you’ll recall it was somewhat tricky to communicate between vehicles, not for us. We proudly flew a red sock out our window if we needed to pull over. After my younger cousin figured out that he got a break to check out a gas station whenever he had to go to the bathroom, why that red sock was flying ALL. THE. TIME. And then, he was given a can to piss in by his mother, you guessed it, Aunt Mary.

Aunt Mary had some big issues go down in her life as well, but she dealt with them, owned them, and made them a part of her history, not her future. I’d like to think I learned some things about living from her.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”, “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry”, “roll with the punches”… I could go on and on. You get my point. Life is messy. If you’re sitting here reading this and living exactly the life you imagined and dreamt of as a child, yay you!!! Actually, wait. Seriously, who are you? If you have the keys to the kingdom…it’s only nice to share. MOST people have to move along to plan C, D, & E at some point. For me, it’s how you do it that says more about you than having to roll along to your 5th plan. You can go kicking and screaming, yelling, kicking the dog, or you can suck it up, straighten your shoulders, and do it. If you’re really talented, like Aunt Mary, you can just laugh.

It’s no easy task to laugh at yourself, to take ownership, and move on. I’d rather have one Aunt Mary than a 100 powerful people that would throw me under the bus at the first given opportunity. So this week, my sage sharing moxie advice for all of you, my dear readers, is this– be a Mary, not a Jackwagon. 

Keep Sharing Moxie!

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