Feeding Someone with Love

My new litmus test for humanity is this: are you the type of person to visit someone in a nursing home and feed them soup? There is much banter over kindness, giving of yourself, and loving one another, but at the end of the day, what does that really look like? I’ve seen puffed up pretty boys expounding on good deeds and beauties talking about volunteering, but if I can’t see them feeding someone soup, their words ring hollow to me.

Love? Humanity? For me? It’s the lasting image of watching Bill feed Enid soup. I spent the better part of two years visiting one of my parents on a locked Dementia care unit. Eating was the last thing that my family member still enjoyed, and he did so quickly and with gusto. Enid was on the same unit and shook, so she had a harder time eating. Her husband, Bill, came to visit faithfully and helped feed her, slowly, wiping her mouth between spoonfuls. Talking all the while to her and other residents. After meals, they would often retire to the t.v. area, holding hands on the couch.

If this sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel, you’re not far off. What’s missing is the banging and the groaning of the other residents. The repetitions of the agitated. There was always a scent diffuser going full blast to mask the smell of urine. It was, and remains, an impressive care facility, so I’m not knocking it, far from it. Alzheimer’s is a lot of things, but beautiful isn’t one of them. Not so for Bill and Enid. They were couple set apart, love personified. It was an inspiration to watch how Bill cared for his wife.

After one particularly trying visit to the unit, my husband asked me what was the matter. “I just watched the most loving thing today. Bill was feeding Enid soup. I don’t think you would do the same thing. I totally bet on the wrong pony.” My spouse assured me that he would feed me in my later years if needed. I hope so, but I doubt it. The way I see it? I have about 35 years to turn him into a guy like Bill. He’s not there yet. To be fair, I’m not there yet either, but I’m trying to be.

This year I’ve watched some of the greatest generation pass away. Octogenarians and their peers that were the backbone of our community and maybe of yours, too. 42 years on the fire dept, 37 years as a girl scout troop leader, veteran, Salvation Army volunteer, Gold Star families. I’m worried that my generation isn’t quite up to snuff to fill these shoes. Most of us aren’t the type to visit loved ones in nursing homes and feed them with love. Every. Single. Day.

My Facebook feed has been as divided as our country lately. Yours, too? I work with teenagers and college students. Their level of narcissistic tendencies, if unchecked, makes me shudder and a little sick to my stomach some days, yet hopeful on others when I see them trying to understand and learn. I’m not impressed with indignant social media posts, they alone don’t accomplish much. I’m impressed with Bill feeding Enid soup. Each person can actually do something to help us all: Raise a Bill in your home, in your community, within yourself, and we’ll all be better for it. Set the bar higher for humanity. Feed someone with love. 

Arrowhead 135: Cowards Won’t Show

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The New York Times showed up last year to cover this race, but they haven’t been here for 10 years. I have. The Arrowhead Ultra 135 started in 2005 with a group of 5 snowbikers that wanted to do something crazy, but maybe a little bit cool, too. Let’s bike 135 miles in January, in northern Minnesota, on a snowmobile trail. Every good thing starts as a bombastic crazy-ass idea first: Climb Mount Everest? Impossible. Women voters? Don’t be ridiculous. Ride your bike through the snow? I don’t think so. Until someone did.

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The Arrowhead Ultra can be completed by biking, running, or skiing. It turns out that biking is the easiest, unless the trail is soft and you have to push your bike. Let’s just swing that idea past you one more time, because it’s worth registering: RUN 135 miles. IN MINNESOTA. IN JANUARY. The trail has hit -40 degrees Fahrenheit during races, and sometimes hovers around 30 degrees. Each year is a roll of the dice. You must carry all the gear you need, complete the race with 3000 calories in stow (my racer carries lard), and finish 135 miles in 60 hours. Less than half finish.

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(photo credit: Gear Junkie).

Once a feat is tackled, the flag is planted and the bell rung, you must make it harder, faster, and more punishing. It’s no longer enough to finish one difficult epic journey. While I write this there is a group of individuals that finished running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents yesterday.

You get a special trophy -the Arrowhead A’trois- if you finish this winter race in all three modes of propulsion: ski, run, and bike over a period of three years. There is a Brazilian racer this year that is trying to finish the Badwater series. He has run the Badwater 135 in Death Valley (hottest),  Badwater Brazil (mountains), and is now attempting to finish the Arrowhead Ultra (coldest). He has been training in a freezer. Not kidding. Where does one find cold weather in Brazil? A walk-in freezer. I wish him well, but nothing has prepared him for the six inches of snow today expected on the trail and sub-zero temps at night. 30 degrees is balmy here, 30 below is to be expected and prepared for.

I admire people that do hard things, while I recognize that we have a cush lifestyle that allows us to train for these experiences, travel to different places, and the funds to do so. We aren’t fleeing through the mountains being chased by those that would do us harm. We aren’t running through the desert to flee from persecution. My husband doesn’t need to sleep outside in the winter trying to get us food off the trail. We have plenty. It’s a voluntary struggle that all of these racers sign-up for, yet they are the ones that run, walk, and ski it.

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It’s a psychological game at night to take out your sleeping bag and bivouac on the trail. When it’s below zero, your brain wants to survive and may buck the idea of surrendering to sleep. Ultramarathons aren’t for sissies. Winter camping isn’t for the fearful. Racing requires you to step off the sidelines. Arrowhead 135: Cowards Won’t Show. It’s honestly the tagline.

I think everyone can learn something from those that push for more, in every area. For me, if I was hiring, I’d go for a racer. They are tough as hell. Talent only gets you so far in life, at some point we all must do more. Dig deeper. Be better. If you can’t do it, bring a cowbell to cheer on those that can.

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Keep sharing moxie.

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One Year of Blogging- Giveaway

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Dear Readers,

I don’t know what I’ve brought to your lives this past year, but I know what you’ve brought to mine, more encouragement and loveliness than could ever be repaid. So let me celebrate YOU with a giveaway! My first! Share one of your favorite posts of mine from Sharingmoxie.com this past year, comment on this thread or directly on the post, and then you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card for you, and a $50 donation to your favorite library (public, community, or school).

I will draw for a winner on February 8th, the 1st anniversary of my blog. I can’t wait to see who shares posts and wins! Why am I doing this? Because I can’t thank you enough for reading. Some posts have been wildly popular and some have only been viewed by 75 people. So why? I knew when I started last year that I’m about 15 years late to the blogging party, but I wanted to step off the sidelines and try anyway.

Sharing moxie was just the first big step over the past year. I got a new job, traveled more, cried openly, grieved, made a fool of myself, learned to sail, laughed often and loudly. I started asking for what I wanted, and in the process started living a bigger life. You were all there each step of the way whether you realized it or not.

I said that I would probably write about family, books, teenagers, and life in a small town because it’s what I know best. I did. I invited you to take the trip with me and I can’t believe how many did. My heart leapt each time someone in a different country logged on to my blog.

My most faithful followers in the United States and Brazil? Thank you. Readers from Israel, Spain, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Pakistan, Sweden, Greece, Estonia, South Korea, Peru, U.S. Virgin Islands, Australia, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Argentina, Netherlands, Portugal, Philippines, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Jamaica, Mexico and France. Thank you. You reminded me each day that the world is a very big place and we can share the good together. Words matter. You matter. Every single person.

Back to basics…moxie is what?

Full Definition of moxie

1: energy, pep

2: courage, determination

3: know-how

So continue to share moxie with your friends and co-workers that you like the most. Share moxie with the cranks in your life, because they need it. Share moxie just because it’s fun and the world could use a little more fun.

Thanks, friends, from near and far. You’re the best.

Keep sharing moxie. In every form. Every day. Be brave, step off the sidelines, whatever that may look like for you. You’ll be glad you did.

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Dear Beloved Phone

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Dear Beloved Phone,

I knew things were getting serious, but this is crazy. My daughter looked at you 78 times yesterday. I looked at you 28 times. I’m ashamed to say that you’re the first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I see before I go to bed. Some might say that I’m addicted to you, they’d be right.

It’s not you, it’s me. I know people blame you for all your bells and whistles. You’ve become as addictive as heroin, as necessary as carrying a credit card, and as socially accepted as putting on clothes in the morning.

I’m a therapist by trade, but you wouldn’t know that would you? Given the ridiculous things I spend my time looking at with you, dear phone, one might guess my I.Q. to be much lower than it actually is.

I knew we were getting a little too serious, but tracking the times I look at you with the Checky app made me shrivel up inside. It’s hard to put you down, my beloved, but I’m working on it. Like a smoker cutting down on their ciggies, my daughter looked at her sweet apple friend only 25 times today, down from 78 yesterday.

Here’s a bit of research though to deepen my assertions…The time it takes for us to pick up our phones in the morning continues to shrink, according to a study by Deloitte. More than 40 percent of us, myself included, check their phones within five minutes of waking up. First, we check our text messages (35 percent), followed by emails (22 percent). During the day, we look at our phones approximately 47 times and that number rises to 82 for 18- to 24-year-olds. Once the day is over, over 30 percent of us check our devices five minutes before going to sleep, and about 50 percent in the middle of the night.

You’re not all bad, my constant companion. I’ve captured great pictures using you. I stay in contact with friends through you and I love your video camera to capture my kids in action, but let’s be real, you’re also the biggest time suck invented by man. You won’t miss me, but I’ll miss you. Hey, we can still be friends, but let’s spend a bit more time apart.

Love,

Me (and half the world’s population)

P.S. I highly recommend the Checky app (or something similar) to start monitoring your own usage or to check how much your kids are on their phones. Keep sharing moxie!!

That Still Small Voice

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I have never been one to respond to loud coaches, fiery preachers, or teachers that yell. Some are motivated by this, but I’m not one of them. That still small voice though? Yes, please. I wish it would come around more often. Better yet, I wish I would stop talking and slow down my fast and furious brain long enough to be quiet and listen for it.

Let me preface this post by saying the following: I respect all decisions regarding having children or not. Truly. In my younger years I may have asked couples about their interest in this area, but not anymore. I have come to despise that question. Any thought that you are less a couple without children, or complete with them, holds no weight with me. Being asked this question, and the accompanying feeling like you need to justify where you are at with a partner or spouse is a thinly disguised burden. My calm advice is please don’t do it. My pissed off, end of my freaking rope advice is, “For the love of all that is holy, stop asking people if they are going to have kids, have more kids, or really wanted a different kid”. Thanks much.

Disclaimer over, now on to my story. It just so happens that I fall into the camp that wanted kids and couldn’t have them. Perhaps you are in this tribe along with me. I don’t know about you, but I turned myself into an unhinged lunatic trying to have them. The advice is endless. Drink wine, relax, lower your anxiety, eat healthier, take your temp, make a plan. When the front line advice didn’t work, like star students, many of us become even more determined to pass this test: take this medication, have this exploratory surgery, and this one, wait, this one should really be the ticket. Up the game, have fresh vials of hormones dropped off at your doorstep in large coolers. Have a glass of wine, relax, and then have your husband give you injections. Super romantic.

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Through all this, I knew that I really wanted a child. Until suddenly (um, 5 years, I’m a quick learner, right?) I started to question if I was losing touch with my life. As a final push, I went for the brass ring, the doctor of doctors, a renowned endocrinologist at a research hospital. I had to subject myself to a series of tests before he would consider taking on my case. He may have been brilliant, but Mr. Sensitive MD he was not. Imagine the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day off ala “Bueller, Bueller?” and a persistent inability to look at my face.

“Your tests have all come back and you do not have gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, ….or AIDS.”

Me, laughing: “Well, that’s good, right?!?”

Eyes on the floor, “Yes, it does remove some complications.”

Truth is, I would have stood on my head with boiled chicken feet around my neck to please this guy. I just wanted a baby, and not any baby, I was certain it would look like this.

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Celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary with my husband, ” I think I’ll be ok if this doesn’t work.” That was me, finally starting to come to terms with this business of infertility.

At my next appointment with Mr. Personality MD, there was construction thereby forcing me to walk through the pediatric oncology department. I can think of few things more sobering and poignant in America than walking through a pediatric oncology department. At that moment, I felt it in my bones. Enough. Enough. It was the still small voice.

At the visit with doctor that afternoon, he told me it was another bad round, the eggs weren’t right and the lining wasn’t good, they were calling it off. “I’ll go get you a shot to end this cycle.” And there it was again, the still small voice. No. I had never said “no” to this man before, but I did. “No, what for? It’s not necessary. I don’t need it. In fact, I don’t need any of this. I’m done.”

Walking out of that office, I felt such relief. Like mountains moved and waters calmed relief. Amazing. And let me just say, I’m not a shouting hallelujah from the rooftops kind of gal. I called my husband, “I’m done.” I called my sister, “I’m done.”

And to the still small voice? Thank you. My son was born 9 months later. I would have unknowingly terminated the pregnancy that I had fought for without standing up for myself that day.

I wish the still small voice came around more often. It’s out there though. We just need to be quiet enough to listen. Some things come with the force of hurricanes and others come with a still small voice. Be brave and listen.

Keep sharing moxie.

 

Adieu, 2016

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Sometimes you can’t say it better than ones who have gone before you. Adieu, 2016. Still we will rise, 2017.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

by Maya Angelou

Keep sharing moxie.

Squad Goals: Laundry

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Dear Taylor Swift,

I like you, but your idea of squad goals, and all of these carefully crafted pictures, make me feel like a mushroom turdball. I enjoy the concept of wanting good things for your friends, though. So, Taylor, these are my squad goals: the great, bombastic, luxurious, off the hook things I wish for my friends…. (let’s compare).

  1. I will never make you wear a bikini and jump in the air wrapped in flag towels, but I will expect you to suit up and swim. No matter what your body looks like, you’re good. Just jump in the damn pool and then we’ll have a cocktail.
  2. I wish clean laundry baskets for you. I know you work very hard and most days it seems like you are behind before you ever even get out of bed. Savor the moments when you feel like you have your shit together. (this empty laundry basket lasted 8 minutes tonight).img_0157
  3. I hope you look up from your phones, your computers, your work, and see your peeps that are outside your door waiting to spend time with you. Just close your stuff for 15 minutes and listen to them, really listen. You won’t regret it.
  4. I hope you get time to yourself that is not limited to going to the bathroom or taking a shower. Your squirrel cage needs time to unwind and you deserve to take these moments.
  5. Spending time with your friends is important. Make it happen. We may not dress up in leather mini-skirts and rock the club scene, but we have fun. You need this Miss Mini-van.
  6. Stop scheduling plans, adventures, trips, goals for everyone else. Make your own. You’re worth it.

Taylor, your bar is set pretty high. As you can see, my squad goals are pretty pedestrian. You do you, and I’ll support my squad the best way I know how. As a favor though, if you’re friends with the pixies and the fairies, please tell them to stop stealing all our socks. It’s ridiculous. Can’t we just get along? They take one and leave the other. Insane. They already have enough pony tail holders and missing scotch tape to cross the river Jordan. We just want our socks to match again.

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Thanks, T. You’re the best.

Keep sharing moxie.

Want. Need. Wear. Read.

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The Christmas gift-giving concept is straightforward: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It sounds simple. It should be simple.

I pitched my idea to my firstborn and, ever the rule follower, she promptly gave me a bullet point list. 1. Want-Bookniture, furniture made from books. 2. Need-Shopping money for Paris.

I stopped reading at number 2.

I tried with my preschooler. “I want a drone.” What do you need? “I need a drone.” This prompted a discussion on the definitions of want and need.

Is this a hard question? I turned inward. What do I want? What do I need? Nothing, really. My children don’t truly lack for anything, but I don’t either. So what do I want? Time. Uninterrupted time with them, with my sisters, with…my favorites. What do I need? The same thing, time.

I realize that now that my list-making days are over. I’ll be asking for the same thing every Christmas from now until the end. I want time with the people I love. I’m going to be vocal about it, too, so my children start to begin to get the idea that this concept of time is important. As in, “my mom has been asking for time with us for the past 20 years, it’s sooooo obnoxious, it’s all she wants.” I’m not some paragon of sainthood, but I realize that my children will only live under my roof for a short period of time. I will always want more time with them, especially at Christmas, and I’m perfectly comfortable making them feel guilty as hell if I don’t get it. It’s all I’m asking for.

I just spoke with a colleague yesterday that hasn’t had their children all together for 10 years over the holidays. She wants time. There is a lovely young woman in our community that was just diagnosed with cancer. She wants more time, god, she deserves more, please.

Christmas is a magical time for some, for others they’d like to just get through it. It’s financially and socially stressful and is less a celebration of true love and selflessness than it is of consumerism. Grinchy, grinchity, grinch.

When it comes down to it though, our deepest wishes, the theme is often the same. You want more time, you were deprived of more time, or you haven’t found the right people you want to spend time with.

For all of you, dear readers, I hope your Christmas is filled with time. Time with the people that make you laugh till you cry, drive you insane, make you snort with derision, and fill your heart up. Find your tribe. Love them, fiercely. Merry Christmas, friends.

Keep sharing moxie.

 

Winning & Losing Graciously

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Last weekend I ran (walked) a 5k race with my 4-year old. Once he realized that the race didn’t end at Dairy Queen he started crying. This quickly devolved to the point where he pointed to everyone ahead of us and yelled “They’re cheaters!! They are all FAST CHEATERS!”

I was pissed.

We walked back to the starting line talking about the importance of trying .We discussed that he isn’t going to win every time, no one does. I thought we had an understanding, a good talk, valuable life lesson. Pat on the back, well played, Mom. Wrong.

We got to the end of the race and he started yelling about cheaters again after he saw the racers got medals. Awesome. We hit the high points again. We talked once more before nap. We talked at dinner. His dad talked to him. We will continue to have this conversation again and again until he gets the concept of losing graciously. I will suck it up whenever I lose, because I know he is watching my every move.

Tomorrow it’s election day in the United States. We have had a hotly contested, dichotomous and divisive race. We will have winners and losers tomorrow. It will sting. It will be celebratory. It will still be divisive.

Some lovely, albeit naive, people are talking about how great it will be when the election is over. I fear that it won’t be. We are not a nation that loses graciously. We give out medals to all in order to avoid it. We blame it on other people. “It was THEIR fault.” “It was rigged.” “The (teacher, boss, supervisor, colleague) doesn’t like me.”

I really, really don’t want to debate the merits or weaknesses of anyone in any race at this point. Let’s just get mentally ready that there will be winners and losers tomorrow. If your candidates win, please don’t be obnoxious. If your candidates lose, please don’t be obnoxious. Remember, the preschoolers are watching. Let’s try and set a good example for them. 

Keep sharing moxie. Follow me at http://www.sharingmoxie.com!