Fear No More 

Two years ago, after recovering from a surgery, I started taking Pure Barre classes. I knew right away the pain I was feeling wasn’t normal. And two months later, I was under the knife again having major surgery. It was supposed to be an 8 week recovery, but that wasn’t even close to my experience. It was so bad that in the early days I cried and at times, wished to be dead. It was a few months before I could go an entire day without needing someone to help me stand up. Nearly two years since that surgery, I still have pain, though considerably less (thank God).
I was cleared to workout again before the holidays, and have gone running on occasion. But I have held myself back from “real workouts” out of fear even after getting the okay from one of the top doctors in his field of medicine.

Fear will ruin our lives if we let it, but I’m so tired of holding myself back. I’m so tired of living in fear. I do it in every area of my life. I’d shut my heart off to the world after all the emotional pain I’ve been through. But recently someone found a way to opened my heart up again, only to turn around and try to crush it.

And it hurt. But you know what? I’m okay. And I think it made me realize that I don’t want to go through life afraid of pain – physical or emotional.

So, today I went back to Pure Barre with a mix of fear and excitement. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish the class.

But I went anyway. And you know what? It was hard. It hurt. And I had modify some moves. But I didn’t leave. I persevered. And I know that I will reach my goals. At one point the instructor even came over to tell me I was doing a great job. Talk about encouragement!

Pain is where we grow – both physically and emotionally. I’ve known this, but I wasn’t ready to face it again until it found me on its own and reminded me that pain isn’t what stops me; it may slow me down but only I am what stops me. 

And now I’m excited. I’m excited to see where life takes me. I’m excited because I know it will make me a better person. I’m excited because when I push through my fear, it loses some of its grip on me, which gives me the reassurance that I can do this again and again. I can face fear and overcome it. I won’t allow the fear of a broken heart or the fear of working out to the point I need yet another surgery stop me. My body is sore and fatigued, but my spirit feels renewed.

So I’m ready to take those steps in fear both emotionally and physically and see what transformations will come.

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A Year Without Facebook 

​It’s embarrassing to admit, but I used to be addicted to social media. My drug of choice? Facebook. 
I realized a long time ago it was a problem, but I couldn’t control my time on there unless I deactivated my account. It was always short lived, though. I gave it up for Lent one year and felt wonderful, but quickly fell back into my old habits.

When my husband died in 2010 Facebook became my pseudo-therapist. I poured out my emotions for everyone to see. I needed to purge the pain raging inside of me. Sometimes I’d post 7 times in one day. I was essentially publishing my diary and all the dirt that my grief journey was collecting.

The attention fueled me to continue, and I cared very little that it wasn’t all positive. Some people walked away because they couldn’t stand to see the mess I had made of my life, others couldn’t help but watch the train wreck that unfolded before their eyes. They could pop their bag of popcorn, and watch the chaos that consumed my existence from the comfort of their homes. Still, there were many who offered me unconditional love and support, and stood by my side through it all. Those are the people I am most thankful for, though I cannot fault any who walked away.

Facebook evolved into my place to vent about the ridiculousness of the world at large and especially our own politics.

I decided that my New Year’s Resolution for 2016 would be a year without social media (i.e. mainly Facebook). I wondered when I took on the challenge if I’d make it, and if so what my life would look like a year later.

I’m delighted to say that it was the wisest and healthiest decision I could have possibly made for myself and my children.

2016 was one of the best years of my life. I was present in my life and with my children. They didn’t complain that I was “always on my phone” because I wasn’t. I focused on what’s truly important – my children, my life, that which is in front of me in reality, not everyone else’s lives, not what’s going on 3,000 miles away, and definitely not the political spectacle that seemed to define the year for so many.

My head wasn’t in the sandbox, though I tried to keep it there as much as possible. I knee what was going on, but not being connected and consumed by the social media frenzy gave me the objective perspective I would have never gotten otherwise.

From what I can tell, 2016 was marked with anger, hatred, and division that seems reminiscent days long past in our nation politically, racially, and genderally (yes, I know it’s not a real word).

I would have been swept up by the fury had I not unplugged for the year, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed my life nearly as much. More importantly, my children wouldn’t have enjoyed  me as much, and they are what’s most important.

Yes, what’s going on in the world and our nation are very important, but nothing is as important as our children, families, and communities.

Here’s the thing: We will never all agree on anything, so to get along best we need to be willing to agree to disagree. Sure there are moral issues that need to be addressed, but we get so worked up over things that are not truly significant in the long here.

Here’s something else: There are so many worthy causes that need to be fought for. We can’t all fight for all of them, so it’s a good thing our passions are different. While I care deeply about animals (to the point I may have yelled at someone recently who was trying to hit a dog, and I have rescued 6 animals in the last 4 years), my passion is more for Human Trafficking. I have a cousin whose passion is animals and not people.

My point is, the world can balance itself if we invest in our passions. If we spend our time taking care of our families and our communities, and bringing awareness to the plight of those both near and far in a non-hateful way we could get so much more done. If we stopped using social media to attack others and spread hate. If we used social media to solve problems instead of just complain about them.

I’m not judging because I’m guilty of many of these things myself. But the truth is if we don’t stop worrying about everyone else’s lives and start taking care of our own then the world will continue to self-destruct. 

Be the light the people around you need to see. 

As for me, I’m staying off of Facebook. I know my limits and the past few days have shown me I’d rather not be sucked back into the vortex of chaos. 

Peace, love, faith, and contentment to you all. 

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A Sick Kitten and a Changed Boy

​We adopted Marvin and Coco one year ago today. The kittens were part of my children’s Christmas presents. Little did we know then that 4 month old Marvin was sick. We took many trips to the vet over the next few months and spent hundreds of dollars trying to get him well.
There was no pushing this kitty away when bacon or salmon were around, but I knee something was really wrong when I offered and he wouldn’t take it – he wouldn’t eat and barely drank anything.

We went back to the vet in May, and he told me Marvin needed surgery. The assumption was he had swallowed something that was obstructing his intestines, but I couldn’t afford the $1,500 price tag after all I had already spent. So, they sent us elsewhere.

We ended up at WellPet Humane in Atlanta. The owner came in on her day off because it was deemed an emergency and the other vets were booked solid.

When she called in the middle of surgery, I assumed it was to tell me it was worse than expected and would cost more than originally thought. Sadly, it was to ask permission to euthanize our beloved Marvin. He was dying and and there was no way to save him. To finish the surgery would be inhumane because he would starve to death in the following weeks. Of course, I gave my permission to end his suffering as my heart broke and my eyes flooded with tears.

I gained my composure and went to take my babies out of school early to say our goodbyes. My sweet, innocent Avery thought we were just going to go visit him while he recovered. But Nathan saw my tear stained face, and said, “He didn’t… did he,” as tears welled up in his eyes. It wasn’t a question. He knew Marvin didn’t make it.

I hadn’t felt such grief since the early months after Tom’s death. I had lost pets before including one I’d had from the time I was 3 to 20, but none had ever made my heart ache like this.

My sweet, sweet boy, who has been through more than any child should, lost his beloved kitten just 6 days after the 6th anniversary of his Dad’s death. Our whole family felt it. Coco hid in my closet staring at the wall refusing to eat unless I carried her to the food bowl for weeks.

Marvin and Coco have both blessed our hearts more than I knew animals could. And Marvin (both his life and death) did something even more powerful than I could have ever imagined – he softened my sweet boy’s heart.

Marvin’s death allowed me the opportunity to comfort my son like I should have and couldn’t do when his Dad died. It gave him the permission he needed to cry – the permission that had been stripped from him when a close family member told Nathan that he was the man of the house now and needed to be tough. Marvin brought our family closer together in life and even more so in death.

God knew that sweet kitten wouldn’t live long, but he needed love while he was here – and we gave it to him. God also knew we needed Marvin more than he needed us.

It still aches. We still cry and tell each other how much we miss Marvin. But in the seemingly simple act of adopting a shelter kitten we were given such a gift that transcends grief and pain. 

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A Martha Stewart B-Day (Just Kidding)

Martha Stewart, I am not, but for my daughter’s birthday, I tried. Sorta. I only let her invite 6 girls silently hoping that not all would show because I wasn’t sure I could pull off a birthday sleepover. There were 13 girls for my 9th birthday sleepover, and my Mom never allowed me to have another birthday again (and she could be compared to Ms. Stewart in some ways). I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Thankfully for me, only 3 came to the party.

There were 13 girls for my 9th birthday sleepover, and my Mom never allowed me to have another birthday again (and she could be compared to Ms. Stewart in some ways). I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Thankfully for me, only 3 came to the party.

I turned to the ever helpful Pinterest for party ideas. I hit the jackpot and decided on a handful of them. We never even got to them all and now have fun crafty supplies for another time. But while my kids were in school, I tried my hand at decorating.

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I turned to the dollar store table cloths for this gem. The picture doesn’t do justice to the jagged and uneven edges of the strips, but you can clearly see my finely tuned cutting and tieing skills at the top with nice even lines. Lovely, huh? I expected my daughter to hate it when she came home, but she loved it. She also loved that I taped balloon-covered table cloth on the front door.

The girls all loved painting letters and doing their nails. I bought popcorn and candy for a movie, and they had a great time. I didn’t do any party games because that’s not my style – well neither are 20160917_084908 crafts,but that was a big hit.

And I was able to do it all under $100 including pizza, drinks, cupcakes, and breakfast. I asked my birthday girl if she enjoyed this party better or the one she had at Sweet and Sassy’s two years ago. She emphatically said this one! Now I know how to save $300!

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I seemed to have forgotten that my daughter is only 8, and it doesn’t take much to make her happy. I don’t have to be Martha Stewart for her, and thank God for that because I don’t come close.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl!

 

 

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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

I stay as far away from the news these days as possible. It’s not that I don’t care about what is going on in the world, it’s just that I have decided to take the “ignorance is bliss” approach for a while. I did, however, hear the story about Jacob Wetterling, and my heart broke.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And I suppose it hits my heart a little harder right now since I have children around his age. When I read what that young boy asked his abductor, the tears just started flowing from my eyes. “What did I do wrong?” He asked. As a mom, I wish I could wrap my arms around him and say, ‘Nothing, dear sweet, innocent child. You did NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING wrong!’

Children are afraid of monsters under the bed, while parents are afraid of monsters out in the world. I refuse to even type his name, but the guilty man is a true monster.

It’s sad that we can become desensitized to the horrors out there, but those words are haunting me. I pray they don’t haunt Jacob’s parents. I can only imagine what they are feeling right now and have been feeling for the past 30 years. I pray I can never do more than imagine. I pray for peace for that family. I pray that God keeps a hedge of protection around my own children.

I am always excited for my kids to get home from school, but today I know I will be hugging them extra tightly and reminding them that NOTHING they do could ever make them worthy of bad things happening to them.

God bless the children in the world.

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A Lost Thing

 

I found this on my computer from the end of 2015, and it just resonated with me today…

Once upon a time my life was the antithesis of a fairy tale. It read like a nightmare more than I could have ever imagined. My world shattered the day I lost my husband. The funny thing about the word “lost” in regards to the dead is that I don’t believe they are truly the ones who are lost. I believe that when someone we love dies, we lose a piece of our heart to the other side, and we are the ones who become lost as we search for it.

The day Tom died was just the beginning of my journey as a lost thing. What I didn’t realize then was that lost things desperately want to be found things, so much so that they cling to any hint of interest and the possibility of finding a home. I found a few temporary homes along the way – one that I thought for sure would be permanent. But each time I was just setting myself up for failure and disappointment.

Then one day I made a home for myself, and I realized that I wasn’t really lost anymore. Eventually I became a found thing because I found myself. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen after one defining moment. Sure I experienced a handful of defining moments in life, but really I cannot pinpoint a single conversation, event, experience, idea, or decision that created this significant change. It was an accumulation of those moments that led to other moments, which all connected together to kept pushing me a little closer to where I was supposed to be.

Can I explain how each of these things impacted me? I can look back and say “It all started when…” and “This event happened where I met that person who had that conversation with me and it triggered this idea and then I went to the other place and…” And so on and so forth. I can see in hindsight just how the pieces have fallen into place, but it was the divine hand of God that orchestrated the whole thing. And it all started when I started leaning in towards Him. The more I leaned in the more I saw His hand at work. It wasn’t what I wanted, and it wasn’t what I pictured, but it was exactly what I needed, and really life has been better this way for so many reasons.

No longer am I a lost thing. No longer do I have to search for a home and settle for less than the best because I was never created to settle for something less than what God has for me. He helped me build my own home and I found myself.

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Steal a Soda Get a FELONY?!

I read an article today that epitomizes what is wrong with our criminal justice system. At an Arkansas McDonald’s three people went through the drive-thru asking for cups of water, then went inside to fill their cups with soda. The manager told them to return the soda, but one of them didn’t. The driver tried to get away and the manager tried to stop him. In doing so the manager got hit by the car, which is apparently the reason for the escalation of charges. That in itself seems a bit over the top. There should have been a separate charge for that, however, not a felony robbery charge. FELONY. I can’t believe that stealing soda from one of the wealthiest entities in the world whose profits on soda well exceed 100% in the markup constitutes a Felony Robbery charge!

This is an 18 year old “kid.” Yes, he’s legally an adult, but anyone over the age of 25 will likely tell you they were still kids when they were 18. But now this guy will forever have an arrest record, and if the charges stay as they are he will also be a felon.

This issue runs deeper than just this once incident for me.

Felon is a serious label, and I believe it is used too frequently. It ruins lives that otherwise should not or would not be ruined because that label will significantly limit job opportunities, which means that it will be much harder to become a productive member of society. Instead of contributing to society people who have been over jealously charged with felonies have a much higher propensity for recurrent crimes.

Perhaps this young guy will catch a break and it will be dropped to a misdemeanor. I know morally these guys were in the wrong. They stole. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou Shalt Not STEAL.” There is nothing after that giving any room for a gray area where stealing something little from a big corporation is okay-ish. No. He did wrong and he should be punished. But a felony robbery charge is just over the top. Fine the guy and make him do 400 (or some other arbitrary number) hours of community service.

But jail time? Not only does it increase his chance of recidivism, which hurts his life and the lives of those he commits crimes against, but it also hurts society as a whole. It costs an exorbitant amount of money to keep people in jail. Whose money? Well, taxpayers of course. And I for one do not want to be paying my tax dollars putting this kind of felon in prison.

I’m currently sitting on the Grand Jury in my county, and even though I have a degree in Criminal Justice, and once aspired to be a lawyer before becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I am surprised at myself with how little I know about our justice system.

My eyes have been opened by my experience to just how ridiculous some of these charges are against people. Don’t get me wrong, crime should be punished – I err on the side of legalism perhaps too much so, but I’m shocked and bothered by things that fall under felonies, and can’t true-bill some of them solely on the fact that they are felonies and not misdemeanors.

I’m well aware that deals get made and charges get dropped, but there are some things that do get through especially when it’s a repeat offender, and sending someone to prison on a minor transgression is just as wrong as the guy who stole the soda.

Instead of over populating our prisons with those who committed small time crimes, we should put money into programs that will help rehabilitate them and reduce the amount of recidivism.

It’s so much more productive to take care of things on the front end than it is to deal with them on the back end, and that is what prison is – the back end. But truly it hurts the bottom line far more than creating programs to lessen the amount of people in prison to begin with.

Besides, isn’t it worse that McDonald’s lies about the ingredients in its food? How about all the poison and carcinogens in their food? There’s something like 90 ingredients in McDonald’s french fries from what I’ve heard. The CEO and people running corporations like McDonald’s should be charged with crimes against humanity for all the health issues they contribute to. Now that would be justice.

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