Tag Archives: life

Being a Grown Up

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“When adult life becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating, I almost feel like I want to be able to remove the skin I’m in and step out of it, taking on a new reality just as I change duvet covers when the seasons change. I don’t itch, not in a physical sense… it’s like a psychological itch; a discomfort that almost, but not quite, allows me to understand why some women simply walk out the door and leave their home and family behind when the challenges of life are piled on top of them.”

I wrote this paragraph a couple of weeks ago. For the life of me, I can’t remember the precise details of what was stressing me so much that I needed to capture these feelings. Obviously, it was intense. And, just as obviously, it worked itself out and I’m still happily married and devoted to my children and husband. I think sometimes the collision of Things I Can’t Control and Things That Don’t Go As Planned just creates the perfect emotional storm, you know?

Do you ever experience these feelings of wanting to just lock the door behind you and walk away? What makes you stay? I think I may need to investigate a little deeper and pull a book idea out of this…

Be Like Me

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I’ve been told twice in the last week that I “always look so busy”. The first time I heard it was from a good, but distant friend who only keeps up on Facebook and by an occasional email. He’s also single, which leads me to believe that if you put our schedules side-by-side, I probably would look pretty busy.

The second time was from a sweet new friend, Olivia. She’s the mom of a couple of small children, and she’s growing a business making handpainted signs. She is constantly posting pictures of new inventory and talking about custom orders she’s filling… so if SHE thinks I’m busy, I guess I really must be. She assured me that it was a compliment, and that it seems like I’m doing so much and doing it well. I laughed out loud and assured her that I am definitely doing a lot, but usually feel like I’m just barely doing everything well enough.

Olivia joked that I should offer people tips on how to be like me, which was ridiculously flattering and made me laugh again. I considered creating a Twitter account called “BeAwesomeLikeMe”, thinking it would be a great platform for some funny buy semi-serious advice about managing the crazy of life… but the name is taken (by someone who doesn’t appear to be all that awesome, I might add). Instead, I’ll share a list of tips with you! Don’t you feel special!??

Laurie’s Valuable Tips For Those Who Want To Be Like Me

  • Do Unto Others. There are people in your community who would love to help you be successful. Seriously, there are. I have found that the more I reach out to support other local artists and crafters and writers in my sphere of influence, the more often I am offered opportunities to be on the receiving end of support.
  • Take Notes. I carry a note pad in my purse at all times. The more I use it to jot down notes when I have and idea for a project or a blog post, the more easily those ideas come to me. Creativity is like a lovely creek through a wooded landscape (with dogwood trees hanging over the water, preferably). The water is always there, but you have to keep it flowing to appreciate the full impact it can have on the life that surrounds it. If it’s dammed up, it gets stagnant. It might take a little while to get into the habit of pulling out the notebook, but keep it on you anyway, it’ll happen.
  • Be Ready. When an opportunity to collaborate with someone on a project or attend a workshop or take on a new task presents itself, sometimes the biggest obstacle to making it happen is simply that you’re kind of blindsided and feel ill-prepared to take advantage of it. You might end up saying no because you’re afraid that it could create a problem in your schedule. Or maybe you’re just not sure what you have to offer in the scenario that’s presented. Remember that if you are being asked to participate – no matter whether it’s something huge like speaking at a conference or just meeting a friend for coffee because they want to bounce a couple of ideas off of you – you have built yourself a reputation that you should be proud of. Be honest, be approachable, and be enthusiastic. Those attitudes plus your inherent talents will make you ready.
  • Take a Break. No matter how flexible or enthusiastic or talented you are, you will need some down time. I try not to beat myself with a guilt stick too much when I get home from work worn out and brain dead, and just need to watch Dr. Who reruns and let the family eat take-out. Your sanity is an important part of your success, and being exhausted and stressed will only make decision-making and opportunity preparedness more difficult.
  • Don’t Take Too Many Breaks.
  • Let Some Things Go. I spent a good number of years wanting to work in theater and film. I blew my best chance to actually pursue a career in that industry in my 20s, but now a fledgling network of agencies and talent is really taking off here in NW Arkansas. I have been really itchy to get head-shots done and see if I could give it a go now, in my 40s. I have already let go of doing theater because the weeks of rehearsal involved simply would be impossible with all the other things that require my attention. But shooting a commercial… or doing some voice over work or a one-line role in a film… I’m still a bit conflicted about it.
  • Hire (or barter) it Out. You don’t have to do it all. Really, you don’t. If you can’t pay for someone to do your yard work or clean your house, you could consider bartering for it. Trade your talents with someone who has different talents. Craigslist has a barter section, and there are a few other websites out there to help connect people who want to trade services. Try looking in the local paper for services people are offering as well, and contact individuals to ask if they’re willing to trade
  • Just Get Up. You can make lists, buy supplies, search for inspiration on Pinterest, and read articles and books about making your life what you want it to be all day long for weeks… but until you get off your butt and start doing something, you’re not going to be like me. You won’t be busy, and you won’t have lines drawn through your “to-do” items. Get up and get BUSY.

Tell Me A Secret

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We all have secrets. Some of us keep secrets from our spouses – the fact that your credit card balances aren’t quite as low as you claimed, or maybe the fact that you were engaged to someone else before you met them. But what about secrets that would be appreciated, or even cherished, by someone else… but you decide to keep them to yourself. Have you ever been selfish with a memory?

As my husband has been receiving updates from his step-mother and watching his father suffer what is probably his last battle with a lifetime habit of cigarette-smoking, we have talked about his feelings and how I can support him through the child’s journey he’ll be taking as his dad goes through treatment. One evening we reflected on my mom’s cancer battle, and he suddenly said “There’s something I haven’t told you before.” Obviously, in other circumstances, I might worry about this statement, but in context I simply wondered what he could be referring to.

His tears welled up a little as he confided a secret he’s kept for over 3 years. The night before mom died, as my siblings and I wrapped up an evening spent laughing (loudly) and telling stories in her hospice room, we each said our good-nights to her and headed out the door. Rick was the last to bend over her and give her a kiss, and he told her he loved her. She was heavily medicated to relieve the seizures she was experiencing due to her brain tumor, and had not been responsive or able to communicate for a couple of days. We were hopeful that she was able to hear us, but unfortunately we didn’t get to hear what she may have wanted to say to us. But when my husband said goodbye, she responded to him. He doesn’t recall recognizing any words, but she mumbled. She recognized that he was communicating with her, and she let him know.

Mom was probably the closest thing to a real mother that my husband had, but they had only a short time together – almost exactly 6 years. She was never one to mince words, nor did she hold back when heaping praise. She took Rick in when he moved here, unemployed and broke, from Colorado to marry her daughter and be her grand-daughters’ step-dad. They had so much in common it was kind of funny. I used to joke that he married me for her. ūüôā

We left my youngest brother with mom that night to spend the night in the room with her, and around 6 a.m. he let the rest of us know that she had died in the night. I suppose I could be upset that my husband never told me about that night. Some people would be, I’m sure. I mean, she was¬†my mother, afterall. I certainly would have enjoyed knowing that she recognized him. But, I know she thought he was pretty great, and I’m so pleased that her effort to say something to him at least confirms that she knew we were there. I hope that she heard our laughter and knew that she had done her job in this lifetime… she raised four children who will care for each other and be there for each other in her absence. She taught us how to remain positive and move forward through difficult times with determination.

I think it’s better that she didn’t respond to me, because I probably would have wanted to make her say something… I would have asked the doctors if perhaps she wasn’t ready to go. I would have hung on, even when it was obvious there was no point. It was time to let go. She said what she needed to say to the person who needed to hear it. I’m glad he has that special memory… but I’m also glad he finally told me about it.

My word!

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That reads as though I’m exclaiming… “MY WORD!” in some kind of Downton Abbey, upstairs-at-the-manor type accent. But really, I’m just talking about a word. My word. One Little Word.

LISTEN

That’s my word.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook about a year-long project called One Little Word that is a project-based way for participants to incorporate a word into their lives on a daily basis in an attempt to live a little more intentionally. (Are you as tired of the phrase “live more intentionally” as I am!?) The project is done through a workshop available at Big Picture via Ali Edwards, a blogger, scrapbooker, and blonde.

The group of ladies I’m doing this with are all bloggers, and many of us are not scrapbookers, so there was some discussion of whether or not it would lend itself to being creative and thinking outside the box that is full of die cuts and washi tape. We agreed that there are plenty of ways to utilize our own creativity, even if it’s just letting our word guide our blog posts for the months ahead. So off we went.

For me, the word listen rang out pretty quickly – but of course I then had a hard time creating phrases around the word to focus on each month. Words like Open, and Create, and Move, and Joy seem much easier to jump off of. So I’m not done planning my year yet, but that’s okay… I think working to come up with additional phrases is going to be a good part of the exercise for me.

I pulled out an unused journal to help me brainstorm, and made a pretty first page…

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And then I started listing. So far I have four focus points to use as I create and write about this project:

Listen to my family

Listen to my heart

Listen to the universe

Listen to those who know

I’m looking forward to seeing how those come together for me, and how they impact my career, life with my spouse and children, the way I spend my free time, and the pursuits of my “alternate career” of writing and creating.

For the creating part of this project, since I don’t scrapbook, I also jotted down a few ideas for how to make something else that can give me time with my hands focusing on my word. I came up with a couple of ideas. One was to create quilt blocks that apply to the lesson for each month (the lesson I learn, not the workshop lesson). I’m not a quilter, but it would be a free-form kind of thing so I wouldn’t worry too much about perfect stitches. That would be my excuse, anyway… ūüôā Another was to make a chap book at the end of the year out of pages I make using photos, ephemera, and writings that were impactful for each month. Haven’t decided yet.

So, what do you think? Have you done the One Little Word thing before? What did it mean to you, and what suggestions do you have? Keep up with my lessons and ideas here… and feel free to share your own!

There’s a Liiiiiiight…

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When I was my oldest daughter’s age, I was running off on Friday nights each week to attend a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Music! Costumes! Bad acting! And overt sexuality which, at that time in my naive existence, was just salacious enough to make me feel naughty but not bad enough to scandalize me. It also caused me to knock my weekly RHPS habit as soon as my mother suggested she might go with me. Of course, my mother would not have thought it was a Big Deal. But until I got to know her better as an adult, I didn’t know that.

My daughter donned her cap and gown and stood with the rest of the senior class at a school assembly today. She wasn’t seated alphabetically like the rest of them – in fact, she was on the last aisle of chairs sitting alone. She won’t be attending the commencement ceremony Saturday night because she is still working to complete her final class online. Also, because she’s sure that her current situation (being in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy) would cause her some pretty serious discomfort if she had to sit in a folding chair for a couple of hours. (But, mostly because of the unfinished class.)

“In the velvet darkness
Of the blackest night
Burning bright.
There’s a guiding star
No matter what or who you are.”

I felt so proud that she is finally going to be done with what has been, at the best of times, a very difficult scholastic career. And at the same time, I was unbearably sad. It brought me to tears that were almost uncontrollable to watch her standing on the last row, in a room full of peers but so not a part of the spirit of the moment. As the school song was sung, and the rest of the students all threw their arms around each others’ shoulders and swayed back and forth in what was obviously a group action they did at pep rallies and such… Delaney stood alone.

When I asked her later why she didn’t just step forward and latch on to the students on the row in front of her, she just shrugged. I don’t know if it bothers her to not feel a part of the group, or if it just doesn’t occur to her to make herself a part. And I don’t know which of those possibilities bothers me more – that she may not think of it, or that it does bother her but she won’t acknowledge it. Either way, the moment was heartbreaking. I think of all of the ways life can be difficult, and how she may never feel like she fits in. Worse, she may not know when she has the chance to make things different – easier perhaps – and the opportunity will pass her by.

At the assembly, one of the teachers gave a speech that focused on the need for plans in one’s life, and also for the need to be able to change those plans when opportunities, tragedies, or just unexpected events come along. Which led me to silently offer up a little “thank you” to the powers that put that speech in that teacher’s head. It was, I hope with all my Mother-Soul a speech that will stay with my daughter for a long time.

What’s interesting, though, is that it’s not the “be flexible” part of the speech that I hope sticks with her – although it’s a valuable lesson. I actually want her to get something out of the Make Plans part. Unlike many of her peers sitting in the gym with her today, she certainly didn’t think about where to go to college or what her major will be… there was no way that college would be an option with the grades she (barely) maintained for the last few years. I don’t know how seriously she has considered a potential career path either… I know she doesn’t say or do anything that makes me think she gives it much thought. And now that she’s going to be a mommy in a couple of months, any plans she had been making in her head have definitely had to be put on hold.

The part about being flexible was definitely aimed straight at me. The last couple of years have left me pretty sure that making plans is potentially a futile exercise. But I suppose I can agree that if I can change those plans and make the best of what’s handed to me, my life is still successful. The support and love I give to my daughter right now is certainly more important than any idea I had to sew more or write more this year. Selling a few more tote bags won’t have nearly the impact of making sure my daughter and her daughter have a good start on their life together. Today’s words were a good reminder.

As good as I feel about my mothering skills and parenting decisions, my mother is desperately missed at times like this.

time is weird

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A year ago yesterday my sister took my mom to the emergency room and after a couple of scans, found out mom had a mass in her brain. That was 365 days ago. 12 months. 52 weeks. You know the saying that time flies when you’re having fun? Well, the opposite is also absolutely true. Time DRAGS when life is falling apart around you.

Less than a year ago my mom was living with me as we tried to figure out what to do about her living arrangements for the long-term as she went through treatment and prepared for her surgery to remove the tumor. It would be hard to believe if I didn’t have the skid marks from her wheelchair side rails on my bathroom door.

It’s hard to believe that only two-and-a-half months ago she was living at home and drinking coffee from her favorite mug every morning. She was watching the hummingbirds that had just returned after I had filled their feeders outside her picture window.

It’s nearly impossible to believe that there is no reason to have her phone number on my new iPhone contact list. Her name will never pop up on my display to tell me she’s calling. I won’t get daily reports about the deer in her front yard or a request for Ensure from the supermarket. And I won’t be dialing her number to let her know what happened at work, or that I made some new bags to sell on Etsy…and yet,¬† her number IS in my contact list. And it’s still in my email contact list too.

365 days fly by in our lives so easily… we let days and weeks and months go by without finishing projects, or making contact with loved ones, or taking the steps to change our lives when we are in a rut. But if we choose, we can pack so much in to those days. I hear a quiet voice in my head (no, it doesn’t sound like my mother!) reminding me that I need to make the most of my time. I need to live the life that I will be okay about leaving someday.

My mother had a lot left to do and I am certain that she was pissed about not finishing it all… but I doubt she had many regrets. She lived her life her way, and made an impact on sooooo many people she came across. Would that I can be so fortunate.

Just a second…

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Just a second.

How often do you say that?¬† To your spouse or significant other who needs you to help unload the groceries from the car… to your kids who ask for help with their homework… to the person you’re talking to on the phone when you pull up to the drive-thru window to order a SuperMegaBurger and a 40 oz. diet Coke…

Only a second.¬† It seems like such a small bit of time.¬† It’s insignificant, really.¬† So unimportant are seconds that they aren’t even noticed until it’s the last play of the game, or you’re running late for work, or you’re waiting for the brownies to come out of the oven.¬† But seconds are so¬†precious.¬† A few seconds can mean life or death.¬† If not for a few extra seconds, you could have no seconds left.

My friend Katie was on her way to work this morning when a few extra seconds saved her life.¬† She was driving down 540 and going through Rogers when she got into the left lane to let someone in who was coming up the ramp to the freeway.¬† As she continued on she noticed a big truck up ahead, a concrete mixer.¬† It was in the right lane, and since it was going¬†a little slower¬†than she was,¬†she decided she’d go around it before getting back over.¬† As she cruised along, slowly catching up to it, a pick-up truck came out of nowhere flying across the median in front of her and t-boned the mixer.¬† It hit right at the driver’s side door, and she immediately slammed on her brakes. As she listened to¬†debris¬†hitting her vehicle she tried to make sense of half a dozen thoughts in a split second; pump my brakes? swerve right? then I might hit the mixer… swerve left? no, the frost in the median will put me into a skid… is there anyone behind me? am I going to be hit? is that thumping a blown tire on my car?

As she braked, she saw the mixer topple to the left and start to roll… she lost sight of the pick-up as she watched in disbelief the mixer rolling sideways over and over, through her lane, and into the median.¬† She came to a stop just past the ruts in the mud where the pick-up had initially crossed the median.¬† She was horrified, shaking, frantically dialing 911…

When the police arrived they asked her to stay on the scene since she seemed to be the only witness.¬† Other vehicles passed her after the accident, and drove north on the other side of the median.¬† No one else stopped.¬† They must have had no seconds to spare in their busy lives.¬† She finally asked one of the officers what had happened to the truck, since she couldn’t see it.¬† She assumed it had gone over the embankment to her right.¬† The officer told her no, it was under the mixer.¬†

Only a few seconds kept Katie from being a statistic today.¬† She would have surely died had that truck hit her with the force it hit the mixer.¬† At this point we know one person went to the hospital, but we don’t know which driver it was or what happened to the other one.¬†

We all go about our lives feeling pretty comfortable.¬† We have our to-do lists, and our Very Important Meetings, and our waxing appointments.¬† We worry about how our hair looks, where the nearest Starbucks is,¬†and whether or not our roast will be done in time for dinner.¬†¬†We should be thinking more often¬†about how we are treating our fellow humans… what we are doing to make our community a better place to live… how often we tell our loved ones how important they are to us.

Every hour – every minute –¬†every second is a treasure.¬† Live like you’re only seconds away from death, because you might be.