Mean 

Mean 

Fridays are usually my kids favorite days. No homework means straight up fun all afternoon. After the first full week of school I thought my kids would be stoked that Friday afternoon had finally arrived.
All seemed good in the car. Of course my momdar (mom + radar) should have gone off when my daughter asked, “Do you like my outfit?” five minutes into our car ride home.

By the time we arrived home and kids piled out of the car, tears were streaming down her face. “What happened?” I asked; still not putting two and two together.

After a long hug and a few sobs she tells me that a girl said to her, “What are you wearing? Seriously, if you had just changed the bottom of that outfit maybe it would have been okay.” 

Fury. White-hot anger. Pain. Hurt. All this washes over me for her. As that simmers to a calm, I try to clean away this comment that will forever leave a stain. Nothing I say can completely erode the hurt from her heart. I know from experience. Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was a full-fledged dreamer and a stone cold liar.

We talk about responses for next time because apparently this girl thinks everyone needs to hear her opinion no matter what it is. My girl is finally calm and she decides to change her clothes. And even though we move past that hurtful moment, it sits with me still when my eyes pop open at 6 AM Saturday morning.

Kids say hurtful things. Adults say hurtful things. 

I feel that I am doing my part for humanity to teach my children that if something isn’t helpful, kind, or necessary that maybe that little piece of information is better left unsaid. We talk about the Golden Rule at least 10 times a day. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – or in our speak – treat others how you want to be treated.

But…will mean ever never stop?

Hurt people; hurt people. People who feel low and little feel the path to rise up is through stealing someone else’s power. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This quote is embroidered into my soul. 

Children learn to speak by listening to those around them. I hear the words I say spill from my children’s lips.

I have heard people say that parents cannot be blamed for how their children behave. I have heard moms excuse away mean behavior with “kid will be kids”.

If we don’t teach them, if we don’t take responsibility for who they become then who will? What will ever change?

I know what occurred Friday isn’t the first or last time that something like this will happen. Heck, I am an adult and I still face these challenges and comments from other adults! What hurts my heart more deeply is that this happens to all of us. That our world still has people in it that find excuses for hate – they hide behind religion, race, history or whatever excuse they can find to eradicate the simple fact that each of us alone is responsible for what we bring to the table. It comes down to the individual and if you can hurl a hate-filled slur at another human it has nothing to do with anything but your own bad behavior. There is no excuse you can hide behind. Your poor choices and actions stand alone. No circumstance, no religion, no difference, nothing defends that action. You hurt another human. That is all. 

We need to teach our children that simple fact. We are the same. Despite our exterior and cultural differences, we are the same. We all have a heart. We all want love. We all need the human basics – water, food, etc. Treat one another with respect. Do not hurt another person. It should just be that simple. 

Until next time,

Michelle

Scared

Scared

In a weeks time I have written about bravery and grace and just being okay with the falls we experience in life and yet no matter how much I try there is an undercurrent of fear in my heart.

It’s okay to be scared right? Lately I am scared of everything. Okay longer than lately; it started when I was born. I think I was born with extra sensitivity to the world and somehow that made me more afraid of the world; well maybe not the world, but the energy and emotions in it.

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I am scared of the little and the big things.

For starters, I am scared that no matter how much I empty my heart and pour it into my writing that this blog will continue to be nothing more than a diary that is more important to me than anyone else, which is okay, but I want to be a writer so much it hurts. So much that sometimes I run and hide from my own writing and I don’t write because no matter how hard I try or much I write it will never be good enough for anyone else to read.

I am scared that no matter how much I know that God loves me and believes that I am enough;  I will never feel like I am enough. That the weight I continue to feel will only continue to grow – this weight that I feel has already manifested itself into the weight that I carry and I can feel myself waving the white flag as I am crushed somewhere underneath it all. I am scared that no matter how much I want to be seen; that no one really sees me at all.

I stopped watching the news a decade ago because if it hurt my heart then it definitely could damage my tiny son’s ears and heart, too. So off went the news, because I was so scared and my heart was so hurt by the toxins that spewed from it. There had to be better things to report. But now when we are praising men for sitting during our national anthem, when our police officers are seen as the criminals and men are shot in the street for the color of their skin and whole groups of people are killed around the world for their ethnicity or beliefs and our leaders seem filled with more darkness than light maybe there isn’t better news to report. And that is scary. So scary that when I think about the world I am terrified that no matter how kind I am or how much good I try to put into the world that the darkness in it will swallow me up whole and not just me, everything that I hold sacred; everything and everyone that I love.

Scared doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about being a parent. Failing seems to be the name of the game. I know I have taught them manners and I know they are the kids that will help other kids and be kind; that part of life I think they understand. They are really great kids. But this year my kindergarteners have been kicked, choked, pushed, shoved, yanked and called names with words I don’t even allow out of my own mouth. My daughter continues to try to navigate a place where mean is the norm. That scares the crap out of me. I have had to teach them how to fend for themselves and that shouldn’t even exist at their age. What in the heck is happening in the world that our children are behaving this way? This scares me to death. Haven’t we come to be a civilized people where we don’t have to fear for our lives every time we walk out into the world?

The chaos is gobbling up the innocence of our world. The chaos and darkness are pushing out the light at a fierce pace and I can’t help but feel helpless. And that terrifies me. How can I help my own children understand a world that scares the shit out of me? Scares me to the point that I can’t read the news anymore either, because what I read leaves me shaky and nauseous.

Yesterday as we drove home from school the kids started to talk about how they feel things they can’t see. How the current of energy runs through them. Other people’s energy. This scares me to death. They are like me, extra feel-y. I still struggle with not letting other people’s energy invade my space, my emotions, my thoughts. How am I going to teach my littles not only how to fend off actual physical threats but also emotional, maybe even spiritual ones too? They feel this same unbalanced chaotic energy in the world that I do and can’t explain how or why it is hurting them.

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I know we have to go forward and love one another and do good and continue to live our lives to the fullest and that the darkness wins when we feel fear, but sometimes that isn’t enough to stop me from feeling it. Sometimes I am engulfed in fear and feel shaky all day.

I know people who the absolute worst has happened in their lives and they continue to take one step forward; sometimes because life forces them to, but they do it. I am inspired by that and I know that despite my fear that I will continue on as I have been and do my best to do good any way, but I feel better admitting the fear.

Maybe if we are afraid together something good can come of that. Maybe acknowledging the fear leads to a way to face those things we fear and conquer them. Maybe…

Scared but hopeful,

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Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Each year I do a fundraiser and then deliver gifts to 25 people (1 each day in December) to people who need a little extra cheer. These people usually have touched, inspired, or changed someone’s life in our community (or far away – we have delivered to Denver, Utah, and well all over actually) and they are nominated to receive one of the gifts.

I recently received an email about one of our recipients from last year. I didn’t write about her last December because tragedy struck her family just after she was nominated. I waited. I wanted her to have some space to heal and even now I am going to call her Kate to protect her identity.

Kate and her husband, like many couples, had to do extra work to become parents. They have miscarried several times and decided to take one final attempt last year. Kate and her husband were thrilled because she was expecting twins. She was put on bed rest in the second trimester. At the beginning of December tragedy struck when she lost her babies; twin girls.

The person that nominated her still wanted to deliver something, but the basket that had been prepared for an expectant mother on bed rest would no longer do at all. So I found a small business on Etsy where the woman creates angel necklaces for women who have miscarried. The name of the shop is Blue Room Gems (you can check it out by clicking here). Creating a necklace for her seemed perfect. So a new basket was crafted with this handmade jewelry and a hand-made throw. My dear friend ensured that this was delivered at just the right time to Kate.

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Necklace from Blue Room Gems.

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Well, Kate was so touched by the basket and the gift that she took our idea and continued it. She began to turn her grief into energy to help others, as grieving mothers tend to do.

She began creating and delivering baskets of her own to women in hospitals who were on journeys similar to her own. She wanted to gift them hope and love; just as she felt she had been gifted.

The blessings continued and Kate’s story evolved and grew and the hope she felt led her to try again for a baby. Kate is expecting and everything is going smoothly as of now. Continue to pray for her and her family and I promise to keep you updated.

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A display at “Kate’s” house with the framed phrase we included with her gift.

Kate inspired me to keep Holiday Cheer going and this year I want to help as many people as we can. I am shooting for 31 nominations so that we can gift a nominee every day in December. I know we can make it a success this year, too. This is such a wonderful way to give back; because like Kate so many of the recipients pay it forward. This sparks so many to keep giving and hope continues to grow. Our world needs hope and so here we go again with our  3rd annual fundraiser – 31 Days of Holiday Cheer!

It is easy – YOU dear readers, nominate a person you think is worthy and YOU my dear readers can donate, make, or just share this with others so that we can make this the most successful Holiday Cheer EVER!

So how does this work:

To nominate someone: It can be anyone, adult or child, male or female. The person nominated just needs to be someone who could use some cheer or just needs some hope breathed into their life. To nominate someone is easy – just email me a short paragraph about the person, with their name and why you think they should be a recipient. Then include something you think they might need this holiday season. Email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com.

To donate: I will have several “parties” that will allow you to purchase gifts for the holidays or just for yourself or you can purchase for one of our nominees. Then I use the proceeds of these parties to purchase gifts for our nominees. There will be an online Stella  and Dot party and a Thirty-one party online. I will host a LulaRoe pop-up for those close by. And last but not least the things that worked best last year anyone can donate gift cards, cash, or even sponsor a recipient by purchasing something directly for them. Again, email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com to arrange for donations to be collected and Like my facebook page for details about the parties.

Get others involved: Share this post with your friends, family, friends of friends, and community. I know if we have enough involvement we can raise more donations and help people even more than we did last year.

What do we need to beat? Last year we collected over $2000 in cash and gift card donations. Last year we purchased nearly $2000 in gifts and other goods. All together with hand made donations and other purchased items we topped over $5000 in gifts for the recipients.

Can we go bigger this year? Can we do 31 days of Holiday Cheer? YES WE CAN! 

I can’t wait to see what happens this year,

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Big mistakes and bravery

Several years ago I started to disarm myself. Piece by piece I set down my armor. I came out of hiding and decided in order to live fully I must be seen fully. That is why I started this blog and even named it “afourytale” – a fairy tale; four kids – a..four..ytale…get it.

I didn’t want the cliché version of a fairytale; I wanted to rewrite the standard fairytale. Fairytales aren’t beautiful stories with happy endings. Fairytales are messy, unkept, broken stories that do not always have perfect endings. When I read how the little mermaid really ended in her becoming foam on the ocean; my heart crumpled. But I think we need to rewrite these stories with more modern versions of truth. Fairytales are our lives – they are hard, broken, beautiful, messy, lonely, noisy, colorful tales of truth and vulnerability.

I wanted to share that even with all of the mess that life can bring our perspective can create that story into a fairytale. And in order to do that; I was going to have to set down my armor and show all the sides of myself and my life. I couldn’t hide behind perfectionism any more. I didn’t want to be seen as perfect anymore. In fact I had come to despise that word and every time someone would describe me that way I would cringe. I had to shed the armor and leave perfectionism behind me.

Now disarming myself and shedding my armor is something I have found that I have to relearn on a regular basis. My default button is to run and hide. It is so much easier to grab my armor, steel myself and let things bounce off of me and not feel.

After three years of constantly setting down my armor a strange thing has happened. Now when I try on my mask and armor it doesn’t fit right. Something feels askew.

Each time I try to put on my armor or retreat to its steely protection I hear loud and clear these words from the Universe: “Fear not. Remember.”

When I hear these words I set down my armor and go out into the world feeling extremely unprepared, totally naked and yet fully alive. I let what comes hit me and instead of retreating I feel each inch of it and decide not to let others dictate how I feel about something, but to define it for myself.

For instance, yesterday I was called selfish. It stung. It hurt fiercely. But I decided instead of retreating, instead of hiding my hurt, to fully listen to how it was said and decide for myself – is that how I define me?

I take things personally. Does that make me selfish? No, it makes me human. I do not have to change that I take things personally. I am a person after all. I just need to make sure the person that I am talking to; knows that I am hearing them as well.

I am not selfish. My truth is that I am kind, super extra feely, and that being personal and feeling everything that comes at me is how I best process the world. If I just allow myself to feel only what other people expect me to and to only react the way other people expect me to, then I am right back in my armor and that is not how I want to live my life.

Being brave is setting down your armor and being your true self. Brene Brown uses the Teddy Roosevelt quote about going out into the arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

Life is the arena; where we show up leaving our armor behind and let our blood and sweat show for all to see. When we do that we can become connected to one another. We can also become whole. We become fully alive.

Why am I telling you all this? I tend to make mistakes on a large-scale. I tend to make mistakes that affect other people and not just myself. Not on purpose mind you. I go in with my whole heart and do my very best. Daring greatly if you will. But I have also learned that if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t something you should keep doing no matter what.

About a month ago I tried to do something I thought I always wanted; only to find that it didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t who I was any longer; it was only who I thought I was. It was a part of me that fit into my armor. And since I can’t wear my armor anymore without feeling completely ridiculous and askew; this activity didn’t fit me either. I had to say, “No thank you; this isn’t what I want.” It was hard. It was scary. It was also just right for me. Being brave sometimes means saying no thank you, that’s not for me even when everyone else is watching.

And last but not least, being brave also means asking for help. A group of my friends decided to get together. I couldn’t fathom trying to join them. I felt like bad company and thought it would just be a bad idea to go. “No one wants to see me any way. I won’t be missed,” I thought.

The words of the universe stirred in me again…”Fear not. Remember”… and I began to reevaluate my thoughts. Ah-ha! There I go again defining myself using other people’s ideas. What do I want? What is best for me? And my answer changed. I wanted to go. I was still scared and nervous that I would chicken out at the last-minute. I know some of you think this rather silly to be scared of your own tribe, but letting myself be seen by the people I love is terribly difficult, because what if they woke up today and decide they don’t like me anymore. They can see all of me now and if they don’t like me after they have seen everything then what? Fear of pain, fear of rejection still creeps into my soul and takes away my courage to be seen.

So instead of retreating and hiding – my default – I sent them a group text. “Guys, I want to go tonight. But I am scared I will decide to hide here at home instead. Can someone please come pick me up so I can’t back out.” And guess what; someone came and picked me up. Everyone rallied behind me. Everyone understood.

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I can’t live in my armor anymore. I have to live in the arena. My soul is the only thing that feels true any more. Just because my armor doesn’t  fit doesn’t stop me from trying to slink back into it mind you.

Armor has many names…perfectionism, fear, hatred, addiction – the things we use to numb are armor. The things we use to hide ourselves it is all armor. You have to know what your armor is to know how to take it off and set it down.

I have had many people comment on my courage and bravery the last year and I never thought this was me. “I am just a girl,” I say. “I am just trying to take the next best step for me.” But I have taken time to define bravery for myself.

Being brave is….

not letting fear dictate your choices

not defining who you are by other people’s standards

taking your next right step

remembering who you are

remembering to ask for help

setting your armor down and stepping into the arena unprepared, raw and wide open.

I guess by that definition I am brave. But I am also just a girl trying to take the next right step. But I am not doing it in the quiet darkness, steeled against the world. I am doing it here, and in the arena, and out in the open for all to see. Some days that feels really difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So here is to big mistakes and bravery because I have more to make and more to learn.

Fear not.Remember –

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Legit

My heart is heavy tonight as I write my life lessons post for late June/half way through July, but I still felt this need to write so here I am.

I am going to start with the heavy.

We need to pray people…

France, Dallas, Baton Rouge, the whole globe. We need to take a moment and pray.

We ate out tonight and the family at the table next to us bowed their heads and prayed and offered gratitude before their meal. I was struck by how this simple act was so profound and healing.

We need to pray.

We need to lean in together and pray. No color, all religious preferences, all sexual orientations, just gather as humans and pray for one another.

And now on to the lighter side of things just because I feel like if I keep thinking about the heavy and the world my children may inherit if things don’t change I don’t know what…

Where does the title legit come from? Well, I have this awesome friend, Cristal and she is always saying how things are “legit” and well life lessons and life in general are just legit; I mean you can’t get more real than every day life.

We need to laugh people…

Laughter is truly the best medicine for the soul. We need to laugh and play and just enjoy the moments that we do have when we can. (Sometimes you have kids crying and shit is legit and you cannot laugh at that moment, but you will laugh later and that is the thing to remember…laugh when you can laugh). For example, one of the twins locked themselves in the bathroom 4 years ago and then seriously did it again this week. I was quick to laugh because I learned from that first lesson and that nifty little key to unlock the door this time was a life saver.

But a couple of suggestions if I may…

Download Snap Chat and play with it. My son thinks I am whack because I don’t post anything on Snap Chat, I have it just for the filters. And I say so what?! Because seriously I have never laughed so hard. And really do I need another place to post crap?

 

Because that is too legit to quit…am I right?

And play like a kid because sometimes it is just freeing and fun…

Billy Beez, I highly recommend it. It’s legit.

The family that dabs together stays together…

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Enough said, because they did this over and over and over and laughed and laughed.

Even dogs get excited to order Starbucks…

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Seriously, I think that dog ordered a latte and a lemon scone. I hope he paid for the car behind him, because random acts of kindness are legit.

Wear the crazy leggings…

So I know, LuLaRoe is kinda cray, cray the way people hunt and shop and talk about unicorns. You don’t have to get sucked all the way in…but those buttery soft leggings, I mean, I pull those on and I feel 12 all over again. It’s the 90s with Full House and Rave Hairspray. And that is worth $25 and a little embarrassment when you are wearing them at the grocery store right?

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But mostly do what it takes to get through…

Life is not fair. I know I have first world problems, but I empathize and understand that a lot of people do not. I know that things can be so hard. I deal with death on a daily basis and I know first hand what shattered lives look like. I know. I do.

I think we each have to do what we can to get through. To find our way.

For me, it’s knowing that I will teach my children to leave a place better than you found it, use their manners, do their best, chase their dreams and always help the person up behind them. To listen to other people’s stories.

I will work to make sure they take responsibility for their actions and pitch in and help out wherever they can. To teach them understanding and compassion in a world that so desperately needs it. And mostly to love them. But also to love my life and set the example. To be a person who shows not tells. To be a person that is afraid, but lives life any way.

And these sweet faces help keep me legit. Two of these faces turn 6 tomorrow. Two of these faces are closer to being a teen than a kid. All five of these faces are the best parts of my life. All five of these faces can drive me absolutely bat shit crazy and at the same time make my heart explode with adoration and unconditional love. These five faces get me through each day…

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Until next time,

Michelle

Life breathers

Life breathers

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life-breathers, too.

Yesterday was like any other day; work steadily flowing in and projects to complete, kids to love and instruct, bickering to manage, meals to prepare, guilt and stress to squelch, and of course the echoes of the outside world that sneak into our lives via radio and TV. But as life does there were some pretty amazing moments yesterday and a wonderful visit from a beautiful, sincere friend. Those are the life breathers, the moments that give my life the pick up that it needs, the moments that matter more than the noise.

Lately the world has been super topsy-turvy. But, somewhere in the world it has always been super topsy-turvy. I am like you though, I feel a bit like my nerve endings are open to the world and when I watch the news or read an article about politics I am left feeling anxious and disappointed and saddened by those people in the world whose poor choices hurt other people.

The thing that gives me hope are life breathers, the moments and people who remind me that there is love, courage, kindness, and just plain good in the world. For me yesterday when things were getting a bit crazy and I had sat at the computer long enough and the kids had bickered long enough, I dragged them on a bike ride. My daughter was less than happy about it to say the least.

As we peddled along, and she sulked along, her brothers began to laugh and smile in the open air. I praised their attitudes and got a, “WOW, mom! You are the worst mom ever!” It stung, it always does. But, then it also made me laugh. If I am getting under her skin and holding her accountable for her behavior I am doing my job. And for a moment I thought about how so many moms and dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, and uncles are all trying to do their job giving a child the things they need even when it is tough love so that the world can be filled with people who are compassionate, thoughtful, responsible, and well just plain good.

That in itself was a life breather, that thought filled me with hope for our world, reminded me that there is so much good out there.

We came home and my parents stopped by. They are leaving on a cruise and wanted to give the boys their birthday gifts. Just watching them interact with the boys and the joy everyone had at just being together…that was a life breather. And to top it off, the goofy moment when I was trying to get the Spiderman silly string figured out so that it would spray correctly and accidentally squirted it right at my dad’s face and the ceiling; that was a life breather. We both laughed so hard. It felt good to laugh that hard. Life is funny and that is a life breather. We need to laugh.

We sent them on their way and I filled the dinner table with plates of food I prepared; a home-cooked meal, and that was a life breather. Sitting all together as a family over food I prepared. It felt good to breathe in that life moment. It buoyed me up and reminded me how to let the little things carry the same weight as the big things, maybe even more sometimes. I tend to let my mistakes carry the most weight; in fact sometimes I think my actual body weight is proportional to the guilt I feel about what I mess up in life. It is important to allow the moments of success fill you up, too.

At at the end of the evening my dear, wonderfully vulnerable, honest and real friend came by in her pajamas. I was in heaven. That was such a life breather. She had a terrible, horrible, no good bad day and came to seek a few moments of refuge with little old me; I was almost in tears I felt so honored and thankful. We talked until midnight. Sitting and talking with her reminded me just how much people need other people. We need to be seen and loved and lifted up; it breathes life into us like nothing else can. It puts the fires out when we stop and see one another. When we stop and listen to each other’s stories and offer meaningful exchange, we change the world for the better.

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The bottom line is that life breathers can be little moments of happiness, peace, joy, sanctuary, ah-ha moments, or life breathers can be other people who love us unconditionally or the best part is we can be a life breather for someone else, or everyone else we meet.

Now, I know no one is perfect and thank goodness we aren’t. We would never learn anything or be even the slight bit interesting if everyone were perfect. The point being, we can’t always be life breathers, everyone once in a great while can have a fire-breathing dragon moment, that is just the way it is. But if we are life breathers most of the time what a wonderful world it would be; and what a wonderful world it is because if we really stop and pay attention and drown out the noise of the media saying, “Look here, look here” and we chose to look for the life breathers instead of the fire breathing dragons; I think you will find what I have found, there are way more life breathers in the world; way more.

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life breathers, too.

Until next time,

me

Not too proud for do-overs and other random musings…

Not too proud for do-overs and other random musings…

Two blogs in a row people…What!? What!?

I know I can hear your cheers through the computer and yes, it is a miracle.

Well I guess because the twins are going to officially be big kids and we have been pretty busy up in our hizouse that I have a lot that I feel I need to share. I know I over share people…that is beside the point.

Any way back to my over sharing; I wanted to let you in on some more stuff that I am learning this month…

I talk too much. No for realsies…I really, really do. I am going to start carrying duct tape in my purse or on my person at all times. I think I will get some of the cute kind from Hobby Lobby though. Enough said.

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I am passionate about education and yet I always feel under-educated to share my opinion on things. I speak from the heart and what feels right from experience. I should probably stack up some facts and research to back those feelings up before I go spouting them off. It’s just a thought. Don’t get too nervous for me.

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Parenting is serious business people. It is daily marathons without any training or experience. This shit is for realsies. Like for real, for real. I have been peed on, pooped on, spit up on, thrown up on and scariest of all hovered over in the dark and scared to death by a child whispering “mom” in the middle of the night. That is some creepy-deepy stuff right there.

I have felt more joy and pain that I ever believed capable by a human heart all due to my children. But I have to say having four small humans all upset at you because of the choices you made as a parent sucks big time.

Mind you I know that if they are all upset at me I am most likely nailing it. All four mad at me that is a 100% success rate in the parenting world. I know you’re jealous. Don’t worry you can do it, too. If I can do it, so can you. Plus it was super easy, I just made them do homework, clean and help out instead of playing on their iPad/Video games and they lost their minds! Can’t say it didn’t sting a bit though to have them all gang up and be angry at me at once. With good friends to vent to and cocktails it is survivable. Also, learned that from experience. Just saying.

Having friends that you can pour your heart out to even if it is crazy nonsense like why do I care if my kids are all unhappy with me because I make them do their homework is absolutely priceless. Find your tribe and hang on for dear life because your people, friends who will hold you up and tell you the truth; they are invaluable. I mean I called a friend yesterday as I hid in the closet from my children just to vent about my crazy mom life and I can’t thank you enough for always having my back and always, always telling me like it is. Find your people. Hold on to them. Invaluable. Got it? Okay, next thing I am learning. Ready. Go.

When your parents are the absolute best people on the planet; let them know it. I already knew this before but being a parent really drives it home. I mean they are serious proof that you can survive your own children.

I have called my mom numerous times to apologize to her when my own kids have served up karma right in my face. I am sure I need to apologize to my dad too. You raised three girls, and I am learning girls have mad attitude, those are some serious survival skills, Dad. You made it through three girls. Mad props to you. Thank you for being amazing and still being my biggest fan. I am a lucky girl.

Last one, see I started with I talk too much to prepare you – see that now?

I am literally living on hope and faith and pixie dust these days. I make mistakes and learn. But one thing I have learned is that I am not too proud to ask for do-overs when I can. Whether it’s admitting I did something I shouldn’t of to my kids or asking for a do over from a friend; it is worth the ask.

Exhibit A. Sunday our family was at the Unravel 5K Family Fun Run and the kids complained all morning about every little thing trying to get out the door. It must have been too early for them on a Sunday. Any way by the time we get there I am doing everything possible to hold it together to try and SHOW them how they should behave and that they should be grateful that we are here to support this cause.

Two separate friends come over to say hi. And I said a very quick hi to them. Well once everything was calm I realized I was probably kind of snappy to them so I found them both and asked for a do-over hello. It went awesome and I felt much better. I am sure they did to. There is that saying people will always remember how  you made them feel and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t made anyone else feel bad just because we (my kids and I) were having a bad morning. But it all worked out okay.

So I talk to much; I am working on that one. It’s a hard one for me. You are still reading this so it can’t be all that bad, right?

In a nutshell: Remember this too shall pass and keep living the dream.

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Peace (And I mean that in the true 1990s since of the word)-

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Humble & Kind

Humble & Kind

Tonight our family went to the local elementary school talent show. My daughter was singing Tim McGraw’s Humble & Kind.

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This show was something so special. There were acts with kids dancing, singing, playing the guitar, clarinet, piano, recorder and trumpet. One child solved the rubik’s cube in 56 seconds. There were classes that performed together and courageous little’s who stood and faced the crowd alone. Children hula hooped and showcased gymnastic talents. There was even an impressive improv act that stole the show. Alumni including adults stopped the show with a quick flash mob! There was just a little bit of everything.

One of the other uber cool things about our local school is that the tech crew, complete with sound, lights, and back stage crews is all student led. It is phenomenal. All trained by an amazing woman who runs the theater arts program. Who takes no credit and gives students the ability to shine both in front of and behind the stage.

Not at all what you might expect from a school amidst farmland and across the street from a field filled with goats.

But inside there was something you would expect from humble surroundings; it was what left me in awe throughout the show.

What left me in awe? It was not only that these sweet, innocent performers had the courage to stand up before their community, friends, family and peers to bare their talent, but they way it was received. No matter what the talent was the students would cheer each other on. If a name was mispronounced; other students corrected the MC who was a local junior high student volunteering their Friday night to host. If someone couldn’t be heard the tech crew rushed mics over trying to be inconspicuous as not to disrupt the performer. Acts were able to start over if they stumbled. If someone got nervous the crowd roared in cheers of support. Young children without the aid of a parent or other adult sought out a performer to tell them what a great job they did. There were hugs, high fives, and smiles between all the children.

This school community is something rare and special. A place I cherish. A place filled with an amazing group of educators and parents who have built a community filled with kids who truly care about each other. No wonder there were so many children ready to perform. They knew they were in a safe place filled with people who truly cared about them.

Our little country school with its amazing talented children is most beautiful because it is filled with students who are humble and kind.

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Innocence on the field

Innocence on the field

There are eight little four and five year olds running around the field. The coach has instructed them to pass the ball back and forth to each other as they make their way from one end of the field to the other. Each group is trying to figure out exactly how to accomplish that task.

One child who has played before, shows his partner and they quickly speed through the drill. They are done and waiting before the other three groups start. One child tries to take the ball all by himself, one child has moved to camp out in the goal and another is starting to wander off by the sidelines to get water. A couple of the players are waiting for their partners because they understood what to do, but their partner have checked out (remember there is one in the goal and one on the sidelines).

Whether it is their age, inexperience or the wind just entered through their ears and stirred up their brains to wonder about different things instead of completing the task at hand; they were all doing things differently. In the end all four groups ended up finishing the drill and standing on the opposite side of the field.

This got me to thinking about life, and how we are all doing the best we can. Most of us finding our way. Maybe we are apprehensive, curious, have our own agenda to complete before we get started on what is at hand, or are natural leaders and forge ahead – we are all just moving forward (or in loop de loops then forward or stopping and then starting again) in our own ways.

With everything going on in the world, wether it is the political election and its teeming climate of hatred or terrorist attacks on innocent civilians or genocide or drug and sex trafficking or just plain seething frustration that seeps out discontent on Social Media or even face to face, it struck me that while these children completed the drill not one of them was angry or seething with frustration. No one was upset that all the others had a different or wandering way of completing the task. There was definitely some guidance from parents and coaches, but it was loving guidance because of the innocence that was on the field.

Of course witnessing this event had a precursor so my observation was definitely tainted with the discussion from earlier that day.

My children and I had quite a talk about respect, kindness and acceptance after the attacks in Belgium. We started to talk about how terrorists come to be and how we can not succumb to a fearful way of thinking. We talked about how we CAN dislike someone, but that doesn’t mean we should ever be disrespectful.

The events that are transpiring in the world that I mentioned earlier are all disrespectful, selfish acts when you strip them down. All are fueled by hate and fear.

My whole life has been guided by fear. I stayed in a relationship because I was afraid to be alone. I didn’t go away to college because I was afraid. I didn’t go to a party in high school because I was afraid; instead I watched the girls through a window from my parked car, let my fear overcome me and drove home. I didn’t tell people I was a medium because I was afraid. And even at soccer practice last night I didn’t go sit by this really awesome mom I met because I was afraid. Afraid that she may not like me, afraid that I might be a bother, just plain afraid to say the wrong thing.

We cannot be led by fear.

How do we fight what is happening around us?

We cannot be led by fear. We have to be kind, open, respectful and selfless.

I know there is discontent. It is rampant.

There is a tense, heaviness to the air. I know you can feel it, too.

There a lot of you, that like me are good and kind and want to make this world the best it can be. We are working toward that. The media and the spotlight are shining on the negative.

HATRED makes a lot of noise. It is messy and loud and dark. Shadows can cover up the light from time to time.

But we have to remember that even though we may be led to the see more of the fear and more of the turmoil; the light is still shining bright and we can focus on being kind and respectful and keep it at bay. It doesn’t mean it won’t touch us or hurt us, but it does mean that it can’t own us. It can’t suck us into its gnarly, twisted grasp.

We are the innocents on the field of life. We need to be able to find our own loop de loop, start stop, or forge ahead way. We need to offer each other space or loving guidance. Not criticism for being different, lost, afraid, weak, lonely, or afraid. I think we need to remember we are all just making our way at our own pace with our own baggage and make way for each other. Move over and offer a seat, a shoulder to lean on, rebuild our community of humans as ONE of many different kinds.

It is a nice thought and I am still an idealist; I think it can be done. I have a friend that always says don’t just be sorry, be active. We need to be active in order to heal this world of ours. We need to teach our children compassion, grace, kindness, respect, and open-mindedness. Anything is possible, if all those little munchkins at soccer can make it to the other side of the field; so can we.

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Yours kindly,

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Lucky Socks

Lucky Socks

Today I am wearing my lucky socks one last time.

I love these socks, despite the hole that has appeared in my left heel and I think they deserve to be worn one last time.

These socks have been around for the birth of 3 of my 4 children. They still fit! Not something that can be said about very many other things in my closet. They have seen me through sleepless nights, presentations, late night writing sessions, my first reading, parties, and just ice cream nights on the sofa. They are my go to superstitious, Irish girl socks.

When I think about these socks I think about how I pull them on in the hopes that things will go well; that the chips will land in my favor. Maybe even that there are such things as miracles and pots of gold. That anything is possible. My idealistic heart beats a little brighter.

That is kind of how I approach the day. Right or wrong, I don’t know. My dad always tells me to walk in like I belong there. That it is confidence that people follow and are attracted to. There is truth in that for sure. I see it all over. Day in and day out. People follow others who behave as if they know what they are doing. People gravitate to far less secure people than myself because they are boisterous with confidence and charm. The confidence is so bright it seems to attract people like moths to a flame despite what might be underneath it. It always bothers me how people are so easily attracted to fake light, but they are none the less.

I guess I like to go out with my armor down lately. I find more comfort in what is real and raw. I know that leaves me as somewhat of an outsider at times; okay I feel like an outsider all the time.

I saw this from Humans of New York on FB this week and it struck me.

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www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork

 

This was so moving to me. It made so much sense and I think that it encapsulated the way I am facing things with my own life these days. I show up; maybe forgetful, quiet, timid, reserved, big-hearted, extra feely, overweight, underdressed at times, hurried, rushed, abrupt, not always present, but I show up and give it a go ready to learn and grow. Always with the feeling that I don’t belong and have so much to learn.

People are glamming themselves up these days. Whether it is in their facebook feeds, their make-up, or how they portray who they are, but the truth of the matter is a lot of us aren’t being our true selves when we go out. Or some of us are falling into a trap of hiding behind a cause, mentality or blame game that makes it less about us and more about “them”. Even though there is no them – it is always us, always. I think most of us know the jig is up, but there are quite a few these days that have worn their masks and been in hiding so long that they are starting to believe their own rouse.

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Me – with my make-up mask, best feeling self to go out into the world.

This is a parody of how many pictures I had to take to get a good picture of myself – see that may be how many tries we have to have or more to get something so we feel like it might be just right or at least close enough.

My husband is good at everything. He helps without question, pitches in, works hard, makes friends easily, is well respected, funny, kind, athletic, strong, can play any game, do any handy task, is up to date on current events, speaks intelligently, is knowledgable, seems to pick up new things easily and well next to him I often feel like I just don’t add up. We were talking about it today and it hit me that, that is more than okay. That is what I want people to see. I want to be anything but perfect and I want my own vulnerability to be a beacon for others to feel they can share theirs to.

What makes us different, flawed, unique and interesting is exactly what makes us humand and being human is what makes us the same. That is the common dominator. And in a world where it feels like differences are being persecuted and people are wearing their hate on the outside, wouldn’t it be nice if people started walking around wearing insecurity and vulnerability on the outside – open and ready to learn from one another. Welcoming each other for who we are instead of how we might be perceived to be.

Because look at the beauty that can be found in moments just as they are; no posing or filters…

Happy, little, blissful, real, raw moments.

So today I have my lucky, hole-y /holy socks on. Today I approach the world ready to learn, vulnerable, wearing my insecurities on the outside. I will walk in with my heart and my perspective open wide because there is so much to learn. I have so much growing to do.

Keep learning, keep growing, keep showing up and breathe,

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Day 20: Strength

First let me introduce you to Jane and Hilda. Jane nominated Hilda for Holiday Cheer this year. Jane and Hilda are great friends and definitely teaching BFFs. If you aren’t clear on what that is exactly, this Buzz Feed post here will help you out.

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They have been friends for years, taking trips, teaching together and many other adventures.

This past year has been a difficult one for Hilda, to say the least. Her sister passed away and then her partner, Rodney fell ill. He was in and out of the hospital and Hilda cared for him until he passed in May. They had only recently finished renovating the home they purchased together when he became so ill he had to be hospitalized.

Jane sat with Hilda the night that Rodney passed. Staying with her until late into the evening or early morning depending on how you look at it. Only to be texted a short time after she finally went home to catch a little shut eye that he had in fact passed peacefully.

Hilda is an amazing educator, a wonderful mother and grandmother and the best friend anyone could ask for. She is the first one on your doorstep to help when you are going through a difficult time or you just need some extra hands to complete a project. She always has time to listen to your troubles and will always offer a shoulder to cry on, but she helps lift your spirits and you can’t be sad around her for long. Her positivity is absolutely contagious. Nothing stops her from achieving what she wants to do in life.

Even though this year was filled with much sadness, Hilda forged ahead and has continued teaching in the Evergreen School District. She continues to hike, travel and spend time with her friends.

Thank you Holiday Elves and Gina Guglielmo for donating to Hilda’s gift and helping offer her some cheer and support during the holidays. You were able to provide Hilda with a beautiful wine basket from Guglielmo Winery with a complimentary tasting for two and a Spa Gift Certificate.

Best wishes to Hilda,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

 

Day 18: Raya Sunshine

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Roughly 7 years ago I met Raya. We met through work; I was training her on a new software. She was bubbly, friendly and it didn’t matter when I saw her she was always fashionable, always with great shoes.

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Raya isn’t afraid to speak her mind or express her feelings. We quickly became friends and I learned of all her family’s struggles. Both she and her husband had lost their jobs due to the down turn in the economy. As they struggled to find their new way; they lost the family home that they had raised their three girls in. But always the optimist, Raya forged ahead knowing as long as they had each other they had everything they possibly needed. They moved a few times from rental to rental and finally at the end of last year decided to go on a grand adventure and head to Oregon to start over.

She knew that she and her husband would both be able to find jobs where they could actually live comfortably. Rent in California just continued to climb higher and higher, so they knew they needed to find a place where after earning their paychecks they could actually have some breathing room.

They have only been in Portland a short time, but already they are finding and creating a home there.

Bella, Raya’s youngest daughter, heard about holiday cheer and wanted to nominate her mom. She knew that even though the world couldn’t see the toll that the past few years had taken on Raya, she knew that it had. She wanted her mom to know how loved she was and how much people were rooting for their success.

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This is a sample mug. Visit https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1081209668 to go to the Etsy shop.

 

Raya, was the recipient of Day 18 of Holiday Cheer. I found mugs on Etsy that showed a connection between CA and OR (Bella is still here in CA) and we made ornaments with pictures of the whole family in them to hang on their tree every year to remind Raya that even though family might be miles away they are always with her. We also got her a welcome mat for her new home and a Home Depot gift card.

Thank you Elves and Bella for helping bring some sunshine and cheer to Raya!

Peace & Love,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 17: Meet Vanessa

Day 17: Meet Vanessa

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

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Okay so today I am going to get up on my soapbox a little bit for this one. Pediatric cancer is a cause that is near and dear to my family. I know too many lives that have been forever altered by this disease. Did you know that 3 new medicines have been created for pediatric cancer in the last 20 years and that 23 new medicines were created for adults in 2012 alone? And as you saw from the stats above there is little funding that goes toward pediatric cancer from the government or other existing cancer organizations. Unravel, which I have spoken about before is an organization that specifically raises money for pediatric cancer. We need to start paying attention to these stats and to the faces of pediatric cancer and start saving their lives.

Today’s recipient is fighting cancer and if you noticed we had an earlier recipient that is fighting pediatric cancer and we have another one I haven’t yet written to you about. Bottom line there are too many children that are fighting this disease to have only 3 types of medicine to fight it and very little funding to back new research.

And now as I step down from my soap box that brings me to Vanessa. Readers meet Vanessa.

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Vanessa  recently had her leg amputated as part of her battle with this disease. Shaleen nominated Vanessa and had this to say about her, “I have seen some of her journey on FB and it is truly amazing to see her bright smile in every single picture whether she is out and about in her wheel chair or in the hospital bed. Her huge family has been right by her side through this all. To see the love they have for Vanessa and the strength they all have is amazing!”

 

When Shaleen told Vanessa’s aunt that she had been nominated and was chosen to receive a gift she was so touched.  She wrote in to say, “[T]hank you so much. It’s definitely been tough, but she’s still here with us and despite what she’s gone and going through she’s in good spirits. She’s a tough cookie !” She also let us know that she really wanted an American Girl doll. What happened next brought Shaleen and I to tears.

I posted on my FB group page that we needed an American Girl doll for a recipient that was battling cancer. I had two donations within 10 minutes. The sense of joy and gratefulness that encapsulated my heart was indescribable. You have already seen that Elayna received one of the dolls (click here to read about it in case you haven’t read that post yet) and Vanessa was given a doll as well. Then what was even more special is my friend Rebecca heard about who the recipients were and she told her mom who then made scarves and hats for all the girls and tons of doll clothes! You elves are one amazing bunch that is for sure!

 

It gets better…Katie who donated the doll, movie, and one of the outfits took her girls with her so they could share in the Holiday Cheer and learn about doing something good for others. Check it out…

Then this transpired on Facebook after the delivery of the gift and I just had to share because this is what holiday cheer is all about!

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Speechless yet…yeah I was, too.

I know I speak for all of us when I say we are sending prayers and thoughts of supreme strength to Vanessa and her family. She is a brave soul who is definitely one tough cookie. We hope that the gift brought her some joy and let her know that there are so many people rooting for her, so many people whose lives she has touched.

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Until there is a cure,

Shaleen, Katie, Rebecca, Michelle and the holiday cheer elves

P.S. to learn more about Unravel click here.

 

Day 16: The Artist

Life is its own protection from death – Aliza Hubbs

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Aliza, the artist, is today’s recipient. Aliza is a warrior, a true survivor. But more importantly she is a wife, friend, sister, daughter, mother.

I met Aliza in junior high. She was always kind, generous, and lived with such an open heart.

She and I had mutual friends and this year at holiday cheer time our friend Shaleen mentioned to me what Aliza had been through the past year. She had 6 surgeries all while fighting breast cancer, all while being a mom to a young child. I knew she was a perfect candidate for holiday cheer.

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Aliza is an amazing, caring, compassionate, beautiful soul. I am in awe of her strength and courage as she chronicled some of her journey on her Facebook page. She was raw, honest and authentic as she shared her trials, pain, and gratefulness for life.

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I wanted to share Aliza’s thank you card with all of you so that you could see that you do make a difference. Thank you to those that contributed to Holiday Cheer and helping spread goodness this holiday season.

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Sincerely,

Michelle

Day 15: Mom is the word

Moms are all pretty amazing really. How they manage all that is on their plate, how they find a way to smile through the chaos, how their hearts do not explode because of the amount of love that resides in it, and how they keep their sanity through raising children.

IMG_3352Today’s recipient is a mom. Her kids are grown, but being a mom never ends. She has had a difficult year and her daughter wanted to let her know that despite the obstacles she had faced this year she did it with grace and strength. Her daughter was so proud of her mom and all that she had overcome.

We hope that the holiday cheer found this mom and brought her a smile. We hope it reminded her of all the goodness that resides within her.

Happy Holiday Cheer,

Jacinda and the Holiday Cheer Elves