Hope on a limb…

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I’d like to rename Spring. Yep. Let’s go with “Hope on a Limb”. Spring arrives when you feel like you’re at your wits’ end and pokes its little head out. You want to cheer on these brave daffodils, buds, and birds. Be brave, bits of green!! If a baby is God’s way of saying the world should go on, then I think spring is the affirmation that we shouldn’t be miserable shits on earth. It’s a big beautiful world, people, just stop to take a look around at the wonder.

There are few places, save Alaska and Antartica, that one might celebrate spring with more fervor than in Minnesota. Minnesota transplants in particular start to feel like they’ve earned a t-shirt with every winter they’ve survived. The blizzard of ’97, the April Fool’s day snowstorm of 2014, the time you went sliding off your roof because the snow was so, so high. Some may view it as rather pedestrian to talk about the weather, you probably haven’t lived in cold proud country. We’re grateful in May when it’s 30 degrees “because there aren’t any mosquitoes”.  I honestly just had someone say this to me last week.

I’m thankful to have lived in and traveled to other areas and experienced different kinds of weather and life. I’m well aware that I could live in California where the weather is truly lovely, but as my good friend in San Diego has said “I just wish it would rain sometimes. This much perfection is obnoxious. My soul needs a rainstorm.” True that. I crave sappy movies sometimes because I need to feel sad. I like dreary days, so I can justify reading a book and not working on projects outside. You need balance, between light and dark. My Minnesota heritage has allowed me to live peacefully in the dark and celebrate the light. That ying and yang stuff? Yes. Those Chinese philosophers might have been on to something for the last few millennia.

That being said, the first really and truly warm day of spring? It’s like Christmas, right? It’s like being 10 years old on the last day of school. Wooooo hoooo!!  People are smiling at each other. You say “yes” to things without thinking twice. Your heart is a little bit lighter and your steps more swift.

I’m not sure what phase and space of life you’re in right now. Have you been stuck in winter: dormant? Maybe autumn with loss and change? Summer, bursting with youth and vitality (lucky you! crazy jealous). For me, I’m needing some spring. Are you needing to cling to some hope on a limb? I’m going to to be a courageous bit of green poking my head out. Be brave. Join me.

If you’ve been enjoying Sharing Moxie, then share it for real!! http://www.sharingmoxie.com

Happy Spring, peeps! Keep sharing moxie.

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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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nobakecookies

Too old, too young, just right.

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Until recently, with a birthday mere months away ending in “0”, I have struggled with a Goldilocks complex: too old, too young…

Just right. Finally.

I think we’ve all had those moments after a near disaster averted, a crash that didn’t happen, an MRI that comes back clear, where we think “Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I’ll be better. I’ve learned my lesson. I get it now. I’ll appreciate what I have soooo much more.” But like speeding, our gas pedal quickly gets floored as soon as the cops are out of sight.

It’s always been a race against the clock for me. More, more, more. Faster, first, go. Young, younger, youngest. I was the youngest in my graduating class, started college at 16, worked immediately in a field where age is prized. I remember being grilled on the witness stand once about my credentials by a defense attorney. He said there wasn’t any way I had enough experience. I did. Won that case,  channeling some serious Dr. “Bones” Brennan, with relish.

Blessed with an apparent baby face, I was recently told by a supervisor “You look like you’re 10!” Let’s be clear here, people, telling a 40 year old they look like they are 25 is a compliment. Telling anyone over the age of 8 that they look like they are 10 is condescending, rude, and generally to be avoided.

Visiting a parent on a locked memory care unit, an Alzheimer’s ward, for the past two years has changed me though. I’m no saint, lordy be, far from it. I often dreaded these visits. It forced me to examine the end stages of life. Harsh, heartbreaking and life changing. Suddenly though it didn’t matter if I looked like I was 10, the fact that I knew who I was became the only thing that mattered. It wasn’t about someone challenging my credentials, I could answer all the important questions: where I was, my name, and the people I love.

Perspective matters.

Perspective, it can’t be bought, is often painful in the acquisition thereof, but so needed.

I’ve seen some of the young beaten down by circumstances appear so very old, and then I have watched some octogenarians with the loveliest spark, lighting the way to aging gracefully.

You are just right, in this moment. Be a goldilocks. Blow out the candles. You are just right.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Getting it wrong…feels so right.

 

I have been a rule follower my entire life. I was a good student, graduated early, got a job, went to grad school. Blah, blah, blah.

Somewhere along the way I lost my voice.

I’m certain it wasn’t one pivotal ground shattering moment. These things often happen by degrees, tiny losses that accumulate into something more. There’s a chestnut that I often pull out in therapy sessions…I’m going to share it with you for free (because I like you): listen to your gut. It won’t lead you astray. Listen to the little niggling voice that says “Yo-ho matey! Not o.k.” or alternately, “Yes, yes, yes!!!”.

I recently built a house which was, and remains, a money pit nightmare. If I’m being honest, one of my biggest mistakes was that I was so afraid of messing up that I couldn’t commit to anything. I was a builder’s daily dose of pain. I vacillated between being pushy and then folding like a card table. “Move the wall here, change the stair case, oh, forget it.”

In the end, my daughter complained that I didn’t pick out any colors in the house. (See her room and my hallway above). Beige isn’t in her color palette. When it comes to decorating, like many other things, she is bold and decisive.

I am smart, but bland.

I have reached a pathetic precipice where I don’t want to pick out a color for my stinking walls, because I don’t want to get it wrong.

Oh my. This is a sad state of affairs.

The only thing I’ve been getting wrong is my life. Here’s to adding color, literally and figuratively to your lives, people. Claw your way back. It starts with paint color for me, prosaic, I know, but it leads to other things. If I can pick a paint color and hang something on my walls that screams “yes, yes, yes!”, then maybe I’ll be ready for more. One day soon I can apply for that dream job. Writing this blog has been a step towards…something.

You like Harlequin novels? Stop hiding them under your bed. School supplies light your fire? Line up those post-its with pride. Want to go on a road trip? Map it out and save your change. Maybe then, you can move onto bigger things, too. I get it, I sound a bit like Oprah here. Life your best life and all that, but she didn’t become a billionaire by eating bonbons.

Lot of quotes out there about a life un-lived, I have little to add upon the great writers in this regard. Your voice is important. Find it. Pick a color. Not worrying about getting it wrong…feels so right. 

Keep sharing moxie.

P.S. Hello to my first fan, from England, whoever you are! Cheers!

 

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Embrace life like a three-year-old

Every age can be pretty awesome, but I think the three-year-old population really nails it. Here’s a top ten list of why everyone should have a preschooler in their life.

  1. They radiate happiness (and anger, and joy, and frustration in quick order). Just leave the camera on long enough and you can watch nearly every emotion ripple across their face.FullSizeRender (35)
  2. Carpe diem? Seize the day? A 3 yr old lives it. This kiddo wakes up every morning and yells, bellows might be a more apt description, “Look Mom, look, it’s another day!”. This is said with genuine excitement as in “Woo hoo! Can you believe it?”. It truly doesn’t matter if it’s a snowstorm or if he’s in Jamaica. This kid is thrilled that the sun has risen once again.IMG_6545
  3. Magic is real. When else would you ask for a live penguin for Christmas and be certain it’s a slam dunk?
  4. Life is full of big events and small ones and a three-year-old will narrate Every. Single. One. “Why are you in the bathroom? Are you going potty? Can I look? Can I flush? Why are you looking at me? Why can’t I watch? I like to watch. Don’t shut the door. I WANT TO TALK TO YOU!” All. Day. Long. One could start to feel like a superstar getting this much attention.
  5. Super duper helpful. See exhibit A. My assistant finished their job decorating for Christmas in record time. Keep it simple, people.

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 6. Naps.Sweet Nectar of the gods. Nap time. For you, too.

7. You can buy costumes and dress them up. It’s 50/50 on whether said costume  will be met with enthusiasm or regarded as a medieval torture device.

FullSizeRender (30)8. Preschool concerts are the best. You always have one nose picker, one crier, one loud and proud singer, the waver, and the commentator. One hopes that your kid doesn’t embody all of these roles at once. Children’s sermon is a wild card with the preschool set, but that’s why people sit up and pay attention when the kids start answering questions.       FullSizeRender (34)

 

 

 

 

 

9. The biggest gig they have going all year is their birthday and Christmas. When you’re feeling overwhelmed thinking about the 200 e-mails you have to answer it’s great to stop and listen to them invite and bar their sibling/friend/cousin from their birthday…in 6 months.

10. Let’s be honest, a 3 yr old hasn’t been knocked down by life. They’re still pretty fresh from God, but they can talk, emote, learn, and explore in a way that your rusty crusty brain has forgotten. They are bright shining lights and it’s pretty awesome to bask in their glow.

Here’s to all the preschoolers. The three-year-old set is out there nailing this thing called life. We could learn a thing or two from them.

Keep sharing moxie!

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