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.

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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.

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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?!

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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…

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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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The French Press Dilemma…

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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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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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