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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How crying changed me…

Charles Dickens

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
      I have been pushed in many ways this year to become…more. I say pushed, because it wasn’t a change that I welcomed at the time. I’m thankful for it now, but at the time it was an option of last resort.
     I started crying this year. I’m a better person for it. 
     It’s not that I had never, ever cried before this year, but it was rare. Now, I let those emotions run through me and sometimes spill right out.
     I’m not manipulative with my tears. I’m honest.
     Truth is, I was kind of a crap therapist until I started getting real. You can’t tell someone that it’s ok to feel, to encourage them to share their most sacred thoughts and fears, if you won’t allow yourself to ever be moved by them yourself.
     The world we live in today is one of disconnect. If we all looked each other in the eye and cried a little bit more, I think we’d be better people for it.
     Teenagers can catch a whiff of b.s. at 20 paces. If we’re trying to teach future generations to be compassionate, to embrace sorrow and reach out, we need to do a better job of it ourselves.
     I showed a video of Columbine to a group of teachers yesterday, today I grieved with them and their students. To say these teachers are brave doesn’t cut it. They are compassionate, protective, full of love, and so much more. The best teachers are real. The best doctors, ministers, politicians, people.
     Today, stop looking away. If someone you know is struggling, look them straight in the eye and say “I’m here.” I’m here. You’re here. We’re here together.
Because in the end, isn’t that what it comes down to? I’m here. You’re here. We’re here together. You’re not alone.
Keep sharing moxie.

What didn’t happen this summer…

IMG_8602

You know what they say about the best laid plans…. My boundless heaps of enthusiasm at the beginning of June, for the transformation that would occur over summer, are now staring me straight in the face. I’m getting the family calendar ready for September and summer is now being measured in hours and days, instead of weeks.

Here’s what DIDN’T happen on my summer vacation. I hope it resonates with some of you other suntanned summer slackers out there, too.

  1. I didn’t get my bikini body back, but I swam anyway. 
  2. My children didn’t become best friends, but there were moments that they liked each other. I have photos. 
  3. My house didn’t get organized room by room, but my junk drawer got cleaned out and has stayed that way for two weeks. 
  4. I didn’t prepare lovely meals for my family each day, but my kids kept growing even while subsisting on ratbomb chicken nuggets and buttered noodles. 
  5. My family photos are still in dusty boxes as unorganized as they were on June 1, but I printed new albums from my phone. (Yay, Chatbooks!). 

Every book didn’t get read, every house project didn’t get done, but man, did I have a great summer. If you slacked off this summer, just smile. I live pert’ near the artic circle, y’all. Nearly all of Minnesota becomes a mosquito hell at dusk. Every day spent in the sun is a reason to celebrate. I don’t feel bad about one damn thing I didn’t get done this summer. Not really. Neither should you. If your family had fun, you were able to relax, and there are pictures of the people you love most smiling in the sunshine then you did EXACTLY what you should have done this summer. Well done, friends, well done.

Keep sharing moxie. For real!

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Speak Your Truth

present

Speak your truth. Even as I write this I  am mindful of the fact that speaking your truth does not always parlay into speaking “the truth”. Speaking your truth is what you hold in your heart and believe to be true. Product matters, but so does process. I’m not particularly proud to say that I have, on occasion, written and made some rather scathing remarks. Some of these things needed to be said, but I regret the way I said them (some of them, I’m no saint). On the other hand, there are times that I have not said anything and I wish that I had. Speak your truth when you’re afraid. Speak your truth when you think it doesn’t matter; it does. Stop saying you’re fine, when you’re not.

I’ve been working on this and just so you don’t think I’m all rah-rah bullshit, I’d like to share my early results in order to encourage any of you that are on the fence. Last year my birthday was spent at a Chinese Buffet with a toddler having a melt-down. I said I didn’t care what we did for my birthday (I did) and however we spent it would be fine (it wasn’t). I ended up being crazy mad at my husband which was met with bewilderment, “you said it didn’t matter”. The Chinese Buffet showdown  of 2015 wasn’t fair to him and it was just ridiculous on my part. This year I was direct, explicit and very encouraging: I’d like to go on a trip with nice restaurants, galleries and, no, I don’t want the kids along. Nailed it. See exhibit A above(my birthday present) and B below, as pictured.

restaurant

Life isn’t all wine on a Saturday afternoon dining al fresco, so in my day to day hum drum life I’ve been practicing this, too. I have been setting up one on one meetings, some easy, some hard to speak my truth. On that note, speak  your truth and then shut-up and listen. We connect so little face to face with people these days that sometimes when you speak your truth and listen, you might cry, you might soften a little. In my book, that’s a lovely thing. You have little time for posturing when you are sitting face to face with someone, if your intent is honest and true, there is so much less of that. An e-mail is quick, where a real conversation takes time, but is a true foundation you can build upon. So far I haven’t regretted one moment of the time I have spent doing this, time well spent.

Speak your truth, kindly. You can say the same thing any number of ways. Be charitable until you know you’re being played. Then continue to speak your truth in a way that you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you have done everything you possibly can. Sleep well with that truth then, even if the change you wish doesn’t occur.

Speak your truth, but know it’s only your truth in this moment. You may change, too. I have.

Keep sharing moxie!

 

Whimsy: we need more of it.

I have always believed there is more good in the world than bad; I still do. I’m not advocating that you bury your head in the sand, but I would encourage you to turn off the news for a bit, put down your phone, and look around. The world needs you to pay attention to the good stuff. Where’s the whimsy, people? The things that delight you? The little touches of humanity that make you smile?

If you want your daily dose of fear, watch your 24 hour news channel. If you need some whimsy, read on.

whim·sy:
playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor; a whim; a thing that is fanciful or odd.

This is my tote bag. It cracks me up every time I use it.

bigbooks

I have a canary yellow bike and I just found the perfect Nantucket basket for it today. I’m looking for a bumble bee decal for my bike next.

basket

These are the cups I use at the lake. I smile whenever I see them stacked up in my cupboard. Aren’t these cups cheerful? They just shout “hello” don’t they?!

cups

See? Wasn’t that a nice little bit of respite? You can believe the world is going to hell in a hand basket or you can look to things that inspire you and people that are trying to help.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”― Fred Rogers

Today, take a picture of something that delights you and share it with someone. I just did.

Keep sharing moxie.

Mother Teresa’s Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

[Reportedly inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, and attributed to her. However, an article in the New York Times has since reported (March 8, 2002) that the original version of this poem was written by Kent M. Keith.]

My List of Failures…

sail

Here’s what I’ve decided…my list of failures isn’t nearly long enough. Not because I’m greater than Cheese Whiz, but mostly because I haven’t been brave. We polish ourselves to a high glossy sheen on social media, but I love it when people are fearless enough to admit their face plants, their failures, their stumbles. Buckle up, here’s a few of mine.

  1. I can’t do a cart wheel. As a 7 year old, this was a big deal for me. My parents threw me a bone eventually and said I could do “a monkey-wheel”. Guess what, darlin’? You can’t do a cart wheel if you’re too scared to throw your legs all the way up in the air. Scaredy-cat.
  2. I was in figure skating for many, many years and pretty much sucked at it. I could spin like a devil, but was too afraid to jump more than three inches off the ground. I dutifully dressed up in outfits bedazzled and sequined up the ying-yang to try and pull off routines that never involved jumping. Ever.
  3. I didn’t go to my first college choice. I was accepted, but too scared.
  4. I talked my college roommates into joining ballet with me for the first time when we were 19. All the little dancers lined up to watch us at class, because they thought we were the real deal. We weren’t. They let us know. Loudly.
  5. I went to the Grand Canyon and didn’t hike it. Not once, but three times.
  6. I built a house that was stupid expensive and nearly resulted in divorce. This failure stings every month.
  7. I have applied for a handful of jobs that I didn’t get. Yes, I’ve kept track. What an obnoxious narcissist…
  8. I have taken up cake decorating, yoga, photography, running, French, and EMT classes with short lived runs of enthusiasm. This has lead to years of teasing from my friends with miscellaneous detritus of cake decorating supplies, dark room materials, airway tubes and epi-pens lying around my house.
  9. I started this blog, which will likely never be very successful because I don’t promote it much. Also, because it’s sloppy, written off the cuff, and (oooooh harsh) mainly centered around my pedestrian life.
  10. I took sailing lessons this week and was the worst in my class. It turns out that I am good crew material. Captain? Not so much. Why? Because I want the boat to go in the direction I want, whether the wind is blowing that way or not. “Tack, tack, tack. This isn’t a motorboat!”. Probably a good metaphor for life. Change your sails a bit you bloody, stubborn fool.

Hands down though, my biggest regret is that this list isn’t longer. I could toss a few more in here, but you get the idea. I wish my failures were bigger, because that means I wasn’t too scared to try. I wish that I had reached a bit higher, even if that meant landing harder: in cartwheels, in skating, at work, at play.

Personally, sometimes I’m a real jackwagon, too, but I consider my behavior to be a daily work in progress. I don’t wake up wanting to be a jackwagon, I don’t think anyone does. Some days we just derail a lot faster than others, but we try, right?

So, here’s to embracing our failures, our missteps. Let’s try to not be too glossy, and reveal our warts a bit. What’s your biggest failure? Let’s reframe that, what has been your greatest attempt? I’ll keep adding to mine and let you know. I really hope skydiving works out though, because some things have more of a margin for error than others.

Keep sharing moxie!

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The Lake: good for the soul

sunset

People, I’ve found, are passionate about their lakes. I mean that quite literally, “their lakes”. Once you’ve grown up somewhere, had a magical experience there, or worked hard to spend your retirement years at a certain dream location it becomes “your lake”. The possession doesn’t end there, because “your lake” becomes the lake by which all others are measured. I’ve been to algae laden rivers, lakes overrun with party cruises, and oversized ponds just to watch people puffed up with pride as they shared their bit of paradise with me. I smile politely, as one does when someone is looking at a hairless dog named “baby”, because you know what you have is better, bless their heart.

Being by a lake is good for the soul. I don’t put much stock into astrology, with people being a water sign or some thing, but I do believe that some people need a lake (or an ocean or a river) to reset themselves. I am one of such people. I’m fairly simple in this regard. If I’m intolerably bitchy I either need a nap, a snack, to go off and read, or to go in the water. Snack, sleep, read, rinse and repeat.

I haven’t written in two weeks (bet you missed me!) because I needed more water and less connectivity. More than that, as a mental health provider, I believe in prescriptions and therapy, but I also believe in the power of being outside. I watch my son pour water in and out of buckets all day and think that he’s probably on to something. Some kind of real life zen garden.

So, dear readers, since I want only good things for you… I hope you are packing up soon, unplugging in the near future, and heading out on the lake. Any lake. Your lake.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Getting kids outdoors: Camp is magic

This is why our future is in better hands than you might think, because of kids like these… Here’s a group of young adults sitting down and watching a sunset last night. They weren’t talking, just watching and taking in this truly magnificent sky. They weren’t told to sit down, they just collectively stopped in their tracks, sat down, and said “wow”. These are some outdoor kids. The lake, the sunset, it’s all part of their employment package. They’ve eschewed higher paid summer jobs for this perk you can’t put a price on.

I was asked to conduct a Mental Health staff training at wilderness based camp this week and was privileged to meet these young adults. They will guide teenagers on canoe trips all summer long, thereby unplugging themselves and the hundreds of kids that show up on this secluded island for a wilderness adventure. These young adults may take have grown up with iphones, but have taken more pictures with fish than their own pouty duck faces. They know how to use a compass, pitch a tent, and cook over a fire that they have built themselves. They’ll teach kids how to paddle, how to portage, fishing, and tell them that “yes, you can do this” even when the campers don’t believe they can. They will be silly and ridiculous and encourage others to be crazy and sing. Just sing. Loudly and off key works just fine.

“I wake up on my own at camp, with the sun. If I looked at my phone at home, I would roll over and go back to sleep, like every single time. Here, the sun is brighter and the dark is, like, black. You can’t see a thing unless the moon is shining. I feel better at camp than any place in the world.”

Did you have a camp? A place where you packed your bags and stayed in a old cabin with a group of kids and a counselor that was the coolest grown-up you had ever met? Man, I hope you did.

I’m old and I just went to camp and met some of the coolest counselors ever. Camp is magic. That part never changes whether you are 10 or 4X10. Camp is magic.

Keep sharing moxie.

 

 

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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