Confessions from the booth…

ballotTruth: I have voted in every major election since I was old enough to vote. Confession: I haven’t known half of the candidates that were on the ballot…

Before you slip into your Judgey McJudgey pants, bear with me. I consider myself to be a reasonably informed person. I walk into every polling place with a chipper step, smiling and thanking the election judges for their service. I get into the booth and click through the president, governor, senators. Well done, me. Then, I glance down at the representatives. By the time I get to judges, soil and water conservation supervisors and county coroners, I am sweating. I have no idea who any of these people are and how in the world I am qualified to choose them. Sometimes I pick them based on how I like their names. Who is the incumbent? Why is someone running against them? Sometimes I break out eenie, meanie, miney, mo. I’m not proud of this, but I try to tell the unvarnished truth here, so there it is.

Not this year though, my friends! Much like studying for an exam, I’ve read the book beforehand. I’ve downloaded a sample ballot for my exact address and county, so I’m ready. Bring it, election of 2016. I’d like to recommend this bit of reconnaissance for any of the rest of you that have known the stall of shame at the polling place, walking out wondering who you ended up voting for. (see myballot or ballotpedia)

The presidential race has been crazy pants, but I have every intention of nailing it with the small races where I have a blank slate that needs to be filled with information. To that end, I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of a disparate group that has organized a school board candidate forum in my community tomorrow night. My vote may matter the most in this small election that will shape the educational opportunities of my children for the next four years. If “all politics are local” and “the school is the heart of any community” then spending a night to learn about your own school board candidates, mayoral candidates, and county commissioners might be a better use of time than listening to another soul- crushing hash on the future of America from popular media outlets.

Make change where you can, yourself. Start studying. Soil and water conservation supervisors, by the way? Thank you. You have helped to keep this cheeky girl’s water safe unbeknownst to me for years. Thanks for mitigating pesticide run-off. I know your names now. I’m ready to vote for you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Speak Your Truth

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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.

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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!

 

My List of Failures…

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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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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

Graduating from adult camp…

dreamrocks

Today I graduated from adult camp. Not kidding. After spending a week at a leadership camp retreat, I crossed over the rainbow bridge to adulthood, to leadership. And because you’re all my peeps, or you soon will be, I’m going to share some of this wisdom for free. Get ready, friends, I am going to save you thousands of dollars that you can spend on whatever makes your soul sing and heart beat faster.

    1. First day of adult camp is like the first day of school. Everybody is flashing their finest clothes and seeing where they are going to fall in the pecking order. Remember clothes are armor and in new and intimidating situations one must suit up. By the end of the week jeans prevailed. If I had stayed one more day I would’ve shown up in yoga pants. You have got to get down to the jeans and yoga pants level if you’re going to be real.
    2. Listening is important. Not kidding. I don’t listen the way I should, chances are that you don’t either. There is a significant difference between listening to get the gist of something and being really intentional about listening for understanding. A good listener is hearing what is being said and sensing what is unsaid. Being really listened to feels incredibly good. Try it.
    3. Invite new people to your lunch table. To your board room. To your classroom. To your life. I’m an abstract person. I see a haunted spooky forest where concrete thinkers see approximately 20 trees. You need both at your table.
    4. Trust people that know more than you. I found myself on the first day of camp looking around smirking as the seasoned instructors said that by the end of the week we would reflect on this time spent as one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. I was wrong. They were right.
    5. Adult camp food is WAYYYYY better than summer camp. Shrimp, scallops, steak, salmon? And you can drink legally, as opposed to sneaking in a stolen wine cooler from the garage fridge.
    6. I probably don’t speak the same language as you and certainly not the same language as my husband. He gets hopped up about a new calculation in a P & L. I look at him like a deer in the headlights. I tell him that the color of my daughter’s nursery doesn’t feel right and makes me so incredibly sad I want to cry. He looks at me like I have lost my mind. Find out what language you speak and those that you love. It will save time and hurt. We all have filters. I say green. You say grass. I say leprechaun. Make sure you’re on the same page or at least in the same damn book.
    7. Compliments, really thoughtful positive assessments, feel better than sex. Well, mostly. Take the time to write down five things you love and appreciate about someone. You’ll be amazed watching their entire face light up.
    8. Every community needs leaders. You are probably one already. Stop standing on the sidelines. Dig in. The world needs you. Your community needs you. Yes, you. 

Keep sharing moxie.

Really!! Share it! Pin it! Email it! I love seeing how sharing moxie is spreading.

Thanks, readers. You’re the best!

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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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