New Month’s Resolution

I’m easily annoyed.

It’s the truth. I have more annoyances now than when I was younger. I think lots of it has to do with the older I get, the more people I know.  I have social media. Before having it I didn’t really know much, outside of my circle of good friends, about who was getting married, getting divorced, what they were eating for lunch, who they endorsed for president, their stance on gun control or that they enjoy placing their kids on railroad tracks to add a splash of danger to their family portraits.  I only knew the details of people of whom I had a close personal relationship.

I didn’t know as much about the people I didn’t know as much about and that ignorance was often blissful.

Before I go on, I promise that this is not a blog post bashing social media or one that will develop into new year’s resolutions of using it less in the coming year.

I think that’s been done before.

Actually, I had decided not to have any resolutions this year at all because they always seem to fade away by March at best.

Who knows what will happen between today and January 1, 2017.

I’ve decided I’m more of a New Month’s Resolution kind of gal.

I can totally do most any goal for 30 days.

Like in 2015, I was a vegan mid-October through mid-November. It was some of the worst days of my life. I like cheese too much.  And I like not feeling hungry too much.  Also, you know what is vegan and completely legal to eat while on a vegan diet? Carbs. I was the world’s 1st chubby vegan. But I did it for a month.

I also did a 30 day squat challenge this past summer. No way am I doing an ungodly number of squats for 365 days. It wouldn’t happen. In the short term, however, I can persevere for the sake of my own ego and to have tight buns for the few weeks when is really matters, which is June and July when I spend peak amount of time at the pool.

Since I have a better success rate with shorter term goals, I’ve decided to take 2016 and divide it up into 12 equal parts.

I went ahead and assigned my goals for the first 3 months. At first, I was trying to assign goals to all 12 months, but let’s be real, I’m far too non-committal for that and it would end in failure. Why try something if there is a good chance you can fail? That’s my motto. It also may be why I’m not hugely successful at anything. But I digress.

So in the words of my accounting friend, who happens to be the only accounting friend I have, “Let’s review this again next quarter.”

As I said, I did think about and manage to set new month resolutions for the 1st quarter of 2016.

They are as follows:

January 2016. I’m going to focus on trying to be happy for people. I’m going to try and have faith in them.

January will be a long month.

When I hear about lifting weights from the person who has never given a crap about being in the gym until now, I will make a concerted effort to encourage them instead of taking bets on how long they will stay on course. I’m going to like Facebook updates about 5k races, dead lifts and CrossFit. I’m going to encourage them to keep at it. I hope this makes me less annoyed by all the talk that comes like clockwork this time every year.

I’m going to try and focus on being happy about seeing people giving it a shot. Win or lose. There is something to be said for trying.

February 2016. I am going to spend this month doing everything I can to keep myself from getting in that end of winter funk.

Every February, I get so sick of myself that I can’t even. All the retail stores are featuring their new spring lines and I’m over here with legs that haven’t been shaved in a week and a slouchy sweatshirt that I also slept in the night before.

I’m going to use this February to focus on not getting to that point. I’m going to take walks when the sun is out, even if it’s bitter cold. I’m going to think positive thoughts. Guys, I’m going to commit to shaving my legs every day this month. Every day. Pray for me. Hold me accountable, but don’t do it by feeling of my legs because that’s a little weird.

March 2016. I’m going to take lent seriously for the first time ever.

I just checked the calendar and it says lent begins February 10th and ends March 24th this year. Maybe I’m not taking it seriously enough by starting on March 1st instead of February 10th, but these are my resolutions, not yours so don’t judge.

This year I want to take the season of lent and use it as a time of genuine reflection. I don’t want to give up something that I can take or leave. I want to sacrifice something that means something so that it will be on my mind this whole month. I want it to be a constant reminder that I need to pray more. I want it to remind me I need to serve others more. I hope it reminds me that I need to be more like the example that Jesus set for me.

I want to use the month of March to get in the mindset of how miraculous Easter really is. It’s amazing how much historical proof has been documented to confirm the validity of what the scripture says happened in the Easter story. I so wish reality television was a thing then.  The Easter story would for sure have won an Emmy.

I want to use this March to soak up the enormity of what I get the privilege of celebrating and being a part of. I don’t want the amazement of it to miss me this year.

So that’s what I’m ready to commit to at this point. I’ll worry about next quarter’s goals next quarter.

As for now. It’s January 1, 2016!!! Happy New Year!!

I’m so excited to see what happens this year. I have an itch in my bones that tells me it’s going to be a good one.

As for the rest of you, go to the gym and wait your turn in line for the treadmill.

I’ll be behind you cheering.

Peace On Earth

I have a lovely friendsin. I’m sorry if you don’t. They are good to have. The term came to be because she and I are friends, but also happen to be married to men who are 1st cousins…so that makes us friendsins.

She is a special lady with a special little boy named Maddox. She has watched her precious little boy struggle for most of his 6 years on this earth. Maddox was born healthy but then at only 3 weeks old he contracted meningitis and suffered significant brain damage. He wasn’t expected to live after he was removed from life support, but he did. Then he wasn’t expected to live to his 1st birthday, but he did. He’s been the exception to most rules.

Maddox is the kind of kid who still manages a smile to assure his loved ones he’s still fighting. He’s never spoken a word and is visually impaired, but he knows his mother’s touch and will light up at the sound of his father’s voice. He is living proof that miracles happen.

He teaches me that it doesn’t take words or deeds to love.

Now, 6 years later and just 3 days before Christmas, it appears he has arrived at the time when he will soon be in heaven.

His mother loves him so much that she recently said she was ready for him to be healed and be with Jesus. I can’t imagine the strength it takes to say those words out loud.  It’s not what’s best for her, but it’s what’s best for him and that’s her heart’s desire. The selfless love of a mother radiates from her.

Through her broken heart she has peace.

When I put myself in her shoes I can’t image I’d be walking this journey with as much grace as she does. I’m by nature anxiety and worry filled, especially when it comes to my kids. She is certainly not free of anxiety and worry, but she has faith that keeps it from overrunning her mind.

Watching her family over the years has been such a blessing and has taught me so much by their example.

Peace isn’t a place we arrive. It doesn’t only come when everything in life is going smoothly. It’s easy to have peace when all is well.  It’s those times of turmoil when our faith is put to the test.  It is in those times when we can discern real peace from perceived peace.

Peace is found when one can believe and trust the promises of God despite the circumstances. It’s living a life of assurance that God is in control thus we don’t have to be. Peace is independent of the outside noise of life and the hurts of this world.

Watching them be peaceful in the midst of their storm shows me that it’s possible.

During this week, as we are with family and friends, enjoying a table full of food and the sound of excited kids may we always have a heart of gratitude. May we appreciate the good times, understanding that good times don’t last, but praise God neither do bad times.

People have bad days, terrible days, get sick, get divorced, have financial devastation, and are betrayed by those who should love us the most. Things go wrong when we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people.

Not all little boys get to grow up into men.

Love is the biggest blessing and can be the deepest heartache.

Not everyone will have a gift to unwrap under the tree this year, but we were all given a heavenly gift that we can enjoy this Christmas and all throughout the year. We were given a baby who was born to a peaceful woman in a lowly manger.

He was called prince of peace by no coincidence.

He came as God’s gift to us. He gave us promises that he immeasurably loves us and has a plan for each of us.

Christmas is a day to remember and celebrate that gift of peace who was born that day.

If my friendsin can find peace as she watches her son fade from her then there is hope for all of us.

Maddox has a purpose in life.

I believe he is a teacher. He teaches everyone who knows him how much love can be conveyed with just a smile. He is a picture of bravery by being a tiny warrior who perseveres beyond what any doctor expected. The prince of peace proves that while he equipped doctors to attend to his Maddox’s needs, that he is the great physician and the only one who knows the number of our days.

Without ever saying a word to me Maddox is teaching me what it looks like to find peace no matter the situation.

As Christmas rapidly approaches, my prayer is that every single one of you feel the peace God intended for you, despite your circumstances. I’m on the journey to do so as well.

I pray that should our little warrior go home to be with Jesus today that peace will overcome and flood the hearts of my friendsin and her husband. I pray for peace to be so all-consuming that they will clearly recognize it’s coming straight from their Maddox’s new home in heaven.

From my heart to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Rehomed

My husband use to travel a lot. This meant I was often the solo adult in charge of keeping the children alive. My safety never crossed my mind whenever he was home. I’m not sure what I thought he’d do if anyone tried to break in, but I’m certain he would have taken care of it. By ‘taken care of it’ I mean that I know he would kill someone with his bare hands, if necessary. However, in his absence I realized I needed backup.

This is why we got a security system and surveillance cameras installed at the house. I took some self-defense classes and read up on gun safety. The No Trespassing signs were discreetly placed on the front and back doors in effort to detour any prospective intruder or Jehovah Witness. We also decided we would get a big black dog. That should do it. Any more than that and the neighbors may have thought I was paranoid. (Not all of this statement is true. I can’t tell you which part is and which part isn’t. It shouldn’t concern you. PS The security alarm part is true. And the part about the dog. )

It needed to be a big dog, scary bark, but also one that didn’t shed, poop too often or bother me in any way.

Enter Margaux. She was the calmest, most chill would-be killer dog of the litter. This adorable wavy haired pup quickly turned into a balls crazy, ADHD, spawn of Satan dog within a matter of weeks.

I had a vision of my big fury protector walking calmly beside me, watching side to side like a secret service agent, always ready to spring into action if needed. What I got was a dog that required more patience of me than either of my kids had ever required.  We had Margaux for all of 8 months before we rehomed her.

(Rehome is a new word which is a nice way of saying that we couldn’t deal anymore so we gave her away.)

During the short time we had her we: replaced the garage door (twice), replaced the garage door opener mechanism (twice), replaced multiple bushes from the landscaping, backfilled many holes in the back yard, apologized to neighbors who she chased while they were on a neighborhood stroll, too many chewed up shoes to count, etc. During that 8 months, separate from vet costs and food expense, we spent more than $3,000 in home repairs.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven times.”

Folks, I didn’t say it. That came out of Jesus’ mouth. That totals up to the fact that we are on the hook to forgive someone at least 490 times before we can say to hell with them.

Statistically, Margaux would have hit 490 around a year or so, but I’m not Jesus and decided to move on a little sooner than that.

There are times when I have to prayerfully consider what is worth fighting for and what needs to be moved on from. Margaux needed to be moved on from, for both our sakes.

We were toxic for each other. I didn’t appreciate her skill sets of digging, chewing or making me chase her down the street. She couldn’t peacefully live with the fact that I demanded she only gnaw on her chew toys and not the couch legs.

We tried, we really wanted it to work. We got her private obedience lessons and everything. It just wasn’t happening. We weren’t meant to be, her and me.

There are approximately 7.13 billion people in this world. I only know a few of them. Every once in a while life seems to allow a person, or in this case, dog, to be in my life for a season of time then pass on by. Every once in a while that pass on part comes with heartache and disappointment, but occasionally the pass on part comes with relief.  Either way, there are certainly times when pass on is necessary.  In their absence I can usually see how they made a beautiful mark on my life, but mostly the mark is better appreciated after they’re gone.

I always learn something from the ones I had to rehome. Thankfully rehoming doesn’t happen too often. After quite a few years on this planet I finally have come to grips with the fact that I can’t be friends with everyone, whether human or canine. There are some who are flat out toxic and need to be, not given up on, but moved on from.

Dogs are a lot like our human relationships in that they are flawed and imperfect creatures. They fall short. I fall short. We both require a lot of love and forgiveness and require patience.

However, sometimes even after trying everything I know to try it still just doesn’t work. The boundaries I have to set which allows me to be a sane and content individual get crossed. Some relationships steal joy and at some point become necessary to be rehomed.

There comes a time in certain relationships when I have to walk away.

Before you deem me a complete loser for rehoming our dog I do want to mention that we also have an 11 year old, tiny, white dog named Piper. He’s the kind of dog you see Paris Hilton carry in her purse. He’s part of the family. My kids don’t remember life without him. He’s a great dog now. As a puppy he peed on everything. It doesn’t seem as bad now because years have passed and we were younger then, but at the time we were house training him I remember wanting to throw him away on certain days.

We didn’t rehome Piper because despite his challenges we still were able to maintain a sense of joy and peace while co-existing with him.

Margaux presented challenges that were relentless and never ending. She was worthy of love, but made us chronically miserable. She’s happier now with someone better suited for her personality. And so are we.

Her 490 ticker can start new with them. Maybe that’s what she needed, what we all at times need, a fresh slate.

It turns out that Piper, despite his size is a great guard dog. He will bark when the wind blows. Nothing is happening in this house without him to alert us of it. Margaux left her mark in our hearts as well as on several walls and baseboards. She will never be forgotten, but we all concur that life is more pleasurable without her.

It’s important to note that it’s still not wise to attempt to break into my house as our tiny little Piper dog can hold his own. He’s never met an ankle he was scared of yet.

Mutually Human

statue of lib

Raise your hand if you remember watching Roots. Or Selma. Or Straight Out Of Compton.

Keep your hand raised if you are a white person who felt some shame and even a little bit of guilt as you left the theater for what racist white people did in those films.

Yeah, me too.

I wanted to pull a Jerry Maguire and run around hugging everyone while announcing “I love black people!” Just to make sure nobody thought any of those bigots in the movie represented me.

I get the feeling that the Muslim taxi driver who picked us up from the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City probably felt the same way.

The museum is not for the faint of heart. It’s a 3 hour self-guided tour of heartbreak. It features relics of that day. The luggage of one of the hijackers, pieces of airplanes, twisted metal, shoes, eyeglasses, firefighter hats and pictures.

Tons and tons of pictures.

Pictures of average looking people who went to work on an average looking day but then ended up having their picture as part of an exhibit in a museum.

All of the bad guys who caused this tragedy were Muslim extremist. I studied their vacant expressions in the pics of them featured in the museum. It was easy to start allowing ugly thoughts about Muslims to build up inside my mind as I continued through the exhibits. We stood and watched the surveillance footage of the hijackers casually checking out of their hotel on the morning of Sept 11th then heading to the airport with mass murder on their daily agendas.

So callous.

It’s hard for any sane person to fathom their rationale.

Also, I’ll admit that prior to arriving in NYC for the Thanksgiving weekend with my family I had to take a Xanax before boarding the plane. It was just a few days after the Paris attacks. The terrorism risk was raised to high for air travel.

So my pre-anxiety due to current world events coupled with my raw emotions from touring the museum had me slightly on edge.

When we walked out of the museum heading to dinner the cab that my husband hailed just so happened to be driven by a Muslim man. I immediately recognized that to feel anything ill towards this young man, as though he had done anything wrong, was discrimination and unfair to him, but I felt slightly uneasy despite the logic.

I watchfully climbed into his car.

Traffic was a snarled mess and it took us a half hour to go 7 miles. In that time we got to know our cab driver pretty well.

I know it’s not customary to chat up the cabbie, but we are from the south. The initial 45 seconds of silence felt weird and rude and uncomfortable so our southern hospitality overrode the ways of the big city and a conversation ensued.

Because of this I can tell you all about the driver, what he loves and what bothers him, his political views and his thoughts on religion.

I can’t help it. When I get nervous I talk.

He was a young 32 year old who called both Libya and Algeria home. He was married and had a baby girl. He and his wife came to America 22 months ago to pursue their dreams of getting college degrees and making a good life for their daughter. His wife attends college classes until 2pm every day while he stays home with the baby. When she gets home he leaves and drives his cab until midnight to financially support the family. Their plans are for him to go to college after she graduates. He told us he fluently can speak Arabic, Italian, Spanish and English. He said his daughter’s 1st language will be Arabic, but that he wants her to also speak English. He was proud of his Muslim heritage.

I asked, “Do you ever have time to see your wife with that schedule?” He shook his head and said, “No, but it’s the sacrifice we make for the dream.”

To further solidify my American snob status I asked another question and immediately realized how pretentious it sounded. I said to him, “So you must really love it here compared to Libya don’t you?” He immediately responded that he misses home, their food and inexpensive healthcare. He told me I shouldn’t visit Libya right now because “the terrorist are doing crazy things and nobody understands them” but once that’s all over and things return to normal there he suggested I go visit. “It’s a beautiful country.” he said.

In that short conversation he became human.

Not Muslim or Libyan or anything else, but just mutually human.

I can sympathize with him on how it must feel to be Muslim right now in this country while the extremist of his faith are making headlines for the most horrific of reasons. It probably feels similar to how I feel when I see people in this country do inhumane things in the name of Christianity.

News Jesus always seems biased and intolerant. The news Jesus and his followers always look harsh and unlovable and condemning. The Jesus portrayed in the national news is not the same Jesus I know.  The Jesus I follow didn’t turn people away or hate anyone.  He didn’t condone anyone being heartless towards anyone else.

I don’t recognize news Jesus. Most Muslims don’t see any semblance of their faith in the footage they see of ISIS either.

If you read my bio on this website you will notice that I said I was raised by Baptist parents.

Want to know who else is Baptist? Those lunatics at Westboro Baptist Church.

You know the ones I’m talking about. They picket at military funerals and hold signs about God hating homosexuals.

Yep, them. They are Baptist.

I cringe every time they do something hateful. I really wish they didn’t call themselves Baptists and weren’t the ones scoring the PR for the rest of us, but the terrible tragic stories are always what is newsworthy. It’s one of the reasons I no longer associate myself with any religious denomination.

The people who shoot up abortion clinics and promote their ideas with fear under the name of Christianity are similarly minded to the crazy people who fly planes into buildings and promote their ideas with terror under the name of Islam.

Right now the big debate is if or how to allow Syrian refugees to enter our country. I don’t like being political on social media or on my blog because I hate reading about that stuff by others. However, when I hear people talk about a nation of people as though they are dogs and less human than we are because a few of them are heartless, it becomes a human issue, not just a political one.

I understand the concern with keeping the bad out. I fully agree that we have to be careful of who we allow to enter our country. It would be foolish not to be cautious. What I don’t understand is the harshness by which some Americans talk about the refugees, as though they aren’t real people.

I certainly hope that if I’m ever in a situation where I need to flee to safety with my family that I’m not rejected because the people who I’m running from are scaring the people I’m running to.

If this is the mentality Americans have then why don’t we be fair and implement these rules for all large groups of people in the name of public safety?

Let’s stop allowing men to attend the movies. All the shooters at the massacres in the movie cinemas over recent years have been men. We just can’t risk it.

Let’s go ahead and shut down online dating too. Statistics show that 10% of sex offenders use online dating services. Scams, rapes and even murders have happened as results of dates set up via online dating sites. It’s too dangerous.
But we don’t do anything like that because it wouldn’t be fair to the majority who are law abiding citizens.

There is evil in every group of people. People are flawed, but I have to believe that there is mostly goodness in every group of people.

As the cab ride came to an end and my exhausted family filed out of the cab I looked back at him and said, “Have a good night. Happy Thanksgiving.” He responded with a smile, “You too.”

Within 24 hours of stepping off the plane in Nashville, TN, from our NYC Thanksgiving trip we were back home putting up a Christmas tree. When the kids were little they would gleefully help decorate the tree, but now as teenagers they laid on the couch watching holiday movies while I did the decorating.

I’ll take it.

Right now I’m just happy we are safe in our home, not worried about suicide bombers nearby and not feeling as though our kids are in imminent danger as they head to school tomorrow.

Praying for the refugees who cannot say the same.

So grateful I live in this great country of ours.

Giving thanks a many.

Boys Are Gross

Last weekend I took my son, my nephew and a friend to our church youth group leader’s apartment. They had plans to go get pizza then head to a local elementary school to use their gym for a game of dodge ball. On the way there the topic of career aspirations came up when I posed the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The conversation then went as follows:

My nephew: “I want to go to the community college for the first two years then transfer to the University of Kentucky and get a degree in nursing.”

Me: “That’s great. You would make a good nurse.”

My son’s friend: “I really want to get a scholarship to play soccer for Brescia University and get a degree in biology.”

Me: “You shouldn’t have trouble getting that scholarship. You are a really good soccer player.”

My son: “I know for def that I want to get a degree in science and then go work for NASA in Houston, TX. I’m thinking I want to go to college somewhere in Florida or California because, you know, more boobs there.”

Me: (face palming and making a sigh)

By the time this conversation had turned into an enlightening glimpse into my son’s mind, the moment was over and I was pulling up to their group leader’s apartment. I happily unloaded my car full of 13 year old boys and thanked the Lord that there are actually grown men who volunteer their time to hang out with them. I’m even more grateful that dropping off a car load of 13 year old boys at a grown man’s apartment on a Friday night wasn’t weird…because their leader is just that awesome.

On the way home I thought about my son and how he is changing as he grows up.

He is a self-proclaimed mama’s boy and I’m completely at peace with that. When he was little I would play a game called Who Loves You? with him and his sister. I’d ask them that question then they would answer with names of people who they knew loved them. The game could last all day for my daughter. She would answer each Who Loves You? question with a long list of answers including: Mommy, Daddy, Grammie, Pawpaw, etc.… However, the game was always a very short lived distraction for my son because no matter how many times I’d ask him the playful Who Loves You? he would answer with a joyful “Mommy do!”

I mean, come on, that’s adorable.

But now, he’s talking about choosing where he will earn his education that eventually will steer him towards his career goals by which campus would offer the most cleavage viewing opportunities. It’s a small example of the new trend in my house as I raise a brand new teenage boy. I can’t keep parenting the way I always have because he’s not the kid he’s always been. As he grows I’m forced to grow with him as a parent and adjust where necessary.

I decided it’s time to pay closer attention to how I am able to help shape his newly expanding mind so that he doesn’t become a complete chauvinistic ass as an adult.

I’ve come up with a list that I’ll call…..hmmm…..

3 Ways I’m Trying To Keep My Teenage Son From Becoming Chauvinistic Ass

1. I don’t let him kill hookers.

My son likes video games. When I was a kid we got a Nintendo and saved that Mario Bros princess more than a few times. Never even once, do I recall the princess wearing fishnets and smoking a cigarette as she walked towards the fire-breathing dragon. I don’t recall ever having the ability to fatally shoot her in the face. Video games nowadays (use of the word “nowadays” is indicative of my advancing age and wisdom to any of you laughing at the term right now!) Nowadays video games have ratings similar to movie ratings. I’ve had to pay close attention to those games with an M rating. Those games usually feature very realistic images of people. These people often include voluptuous women clad in black leather and stilettos. There is actually a game where you can steal cars and kill hookers. How can we justify allowing our young boys to virtually kill women for pleasure and let them indulge in near pornographic images of prostitutes then not expect them to have warped views on how to respect and show self-control around women in their non-virtual lives? He gives me lots of push back on this one, but I’m under the conviction that allowing him to disrespect women, or any human for that matter, in the virtual world is one step towards him becoming desensitized to it and then disrespecting them in the real world. When he’s 18 I won’t be able to stop him from playing the games he wants, but while he is a 13 year old I can stop him. So I do.

2. I respect myself.

If I’m going to expect him to respect women then, as a woman, I’d better dang well be sure I respect myself. I want his image of a woman to be a reflection of me. I don’t want that image to be one of weakness or one that resembles a doormat. I want my son to see my priorities in life and recognize that I am one of my priorities. I want him to see me practice self-control yet still speak my mind in a respectful manner. I want him to see how a woman can set boundaries in the relationships in her life while still being able to fully love and show affection in those relationships. I want him to learn how to treat a woman by seeing how I allow others to treat me. I have to find, then always use my backbone. If I want to raise a man of integrity, I must be a woman of integrity. It’s not easy. I fail all the time. I have to right wrongs often, but I think that’s all part of the learning process for the both of us. I hope by watching how I handle things when I get them wrong that he will see that while we aren’t perfect we still get back up and keep trying. I hope he can learn by watching me behave like a lady that women are not delicate flowers, but equals and should be treated as such.

3. I choose my battles.

My son is gross. There’s no other way around it. It’s not just my opinion either. Ask our friends or family, they would all back me up on this one. His room is covered in Hostess cupcake wrappers, glasses half full of sweet tea normally accompanied by a fly floating on top no doubt dead from sugar overload to its tiny little insect body. His bathroom induces a gag reflex. We are talking toothpaste on the sink, dirty clothes all over the floor and a toilet reminiscent of one of those truck stops off an old two lane highway. We have gone rounds and rounds over this. I’ve grounded him, given ultimatums and tried scare tactics by sharing with him how one day he will wake up with a horrible ring in his ear and that ringing sound will be that of a roach that has crawled into his ear from under his bed. But after all the turmoil his untidy part of the house has caused, the result is that it’s still untidy. As I review the list of things I want him to really get branded into his head a clean room falls pretty low on the priority list if I’m being honest. Maybe before he moves out on his own he will have arrived at the place in life where unflushed toilets will bother him, but for now I will keep his door shut, focus on the war rather than the smaller battles and will only go into his room to retrieve his laundry then quickly shut the door behind me. Whomever he ends up marrying, should he go down that path, will have her work cut out for her in this area, if things don’t change before then. I can’t make it too easy for his future wife though. I don’t want to hand her over too perfect of a man. They will need things to talk about.

Do I think any of these things will keep him from not enjoying a hottie in a tight shirt who walks by him on a college campus? Not at all. However, I really hope that the respect he has developed for women through some of these efforts will keep him from Bronx cheering her when he sees her.

No offense, men from the Bronx. I’m sure you’re nice people.

Unfriended

Dear Teenage Daughter Of Mine,

I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided that we can’t be friends.

It’s not me. It’s you.

You help me understand why some animals eat their young.

When you were born you were exceptionally adorable, far surpassing the adorableness of the other babies born that day. I’m sure the other mothers looked at their newborns that day with great disappointment. You were such a good baby. You took long naps so that I could get a break, you slept all night in your own bed. You ate anything, which made me feel superior to the other moms complaining about their picky eaters. You were independent and had a desire to do things on your own. You took crap from no one, even as a toddler. When the sweet old man from church would touch your hand and smile at you, you would respond by pulling your hand back and throwing a ‘go to hell, go straight to hell’ look at him. You were so cute though that he would just laugh and try again next week. You were pretty perfect, actually. I had high hopes for you.

Now you are a teenager and at only 14 years old, you are equipped with a super model body and killer eye lashes. You draw attention of older boys because you don’t look a day younger than 17. This is not fair to me, being that I’m a full 7 inches shorter and 15 pounds heavier than you. You are still very strong willed, smart, creative and totally hilarious. You still will on occasion shoot a death glare at anyone talking to you whom you are not fond of (it’s something we are working on). However, none of this is why we can’t be friends.

You have turned from a sweet wide eyed little girl who loved zoo animals and American Girl dolls into a hormonal, irrational, emotional teenager. I have to strategize how I’m going to approach you about topics I fear may set you off, like trying to tell you that the wait at Olive Garden is too long and we are going to have to find a plan b restaurant to eat. When you are hungry you are especially scary. Full disclosure, you get that honestly. You may have inherited that trait. You bounce back and forth from being a child to being a fun loving, energetic teenager to being an immature adult. This is why we can’t be friends. People have warned me about this teenager thing, but I didn’t believe them….not my baby. Turns out they were on to something.

We can’t be friends because you need my help to survive your teen years and become an adult who people don’t avoid at parties.

Right now you don’t really need the other half of my BFF heart necklace. You need a mom.

When we argue because you have decided to wear your new fall outfit that includes an adorbs boho top layered with a long cardigan and skinny jeans with ankle boots on a day in early September when the weather forecast calls for a humid 92 degrees I am reminded that while you may not like me, you need me. Literally, need me to save you from heat stroke on the bus.

When you roll your eyes at me and mumble something hateful under your breath as you walk out of the room because I won’t allow you to ride in a car with the 16 year old boy you are crushing on I can see your innocence and how short sighted you are right now. You don’t see all the life altering consequences that can come from it, but I can so I’m willing to let you treat me like I’m the one being unrealistic in the matter.

When we are on a paradise beach vacation where everything seems perfect, yet when one little thing doesn’t go your way you curl up those long legs into a ball so that you can get in my lap and nuzzle into my chest to cry I’m yet again reminded that even though you are getting closer to being grown, you are still a child. You need me.

Let’s be honest. You have friends. I have friends. We don’t need to be each other’s friend right now. I make you insane with all my dumb rules and frankly you aren’t always a peach to live with either.

Never mistake my determination that we can’t be friends as a lack of love. I’ve prayed for you since the moment I discovered I was pregnant. Every day. My prayers have shifted as life has shifted. I used to pray that you would sleep well at night in your crib. I prayed that your diaper rash would clear up. I prayed that you wouldn’t get too hysterical over the shots you were going to get at the doctor’s office. I prayed for your self-esteem as you went through that awkward phase of snaggled teeth and crooked glasses. I prayed that your 1st day of high school this year would go great. Daily, I pray for your health, your safety, that you will make wise decisions and that you won’t get involved with the wrong crowd. I pray that as you edge closer to those dating years that you will know a douche bag when you see one. I pray that you will find a balance between confidence and humility.

It’s hard for you to understand and I don’t expect that you will ever fully understand until you have children of your own how deep my love is for you. You are the best part of me and your dad. You and your brother are the beat in our hearts. When you hurt, we hurt. It’s our job to raise you to be an adult who is kind, responsible, respects herself and shows respect to others. We want to send you out into the world as ready as you can be for what life will throw at you. We want you to be fierce and strong.

As it turns out, to fulfill that mission, this love I have for you is not well received all the time. It sucks and I wish it wasn’t that way, but I have hope it won’t last forever. It’s okay that you don’t always like me or think I’m cool.

So when you yell at me to come into your room to curl your hair in the mornings, complain about how it looks afterwards, ask me to iron your shirt, make you some breakfast then on the way to school remind me of a 3 page form I need to complete before I drop you off at school or you won’t be able to attend the field trip I knew nothing about, I will take a deep breath and do it.

Because I love you.

Also because I have been praying to God that you will have a daughter exactly like you one day. That, in itself, will be the reward I need to make this all worth it.

I hope you understand. Don’t take it personally.

Love,

Mom

Walk This Way

My dad is my guy.

After I grew up, got married and had a couple kids, my dad was still my guy.

He was my go-to for most anything. Something breaks, he’s who I’d call. He could fix anything. Before I got a car with navigation and would get lost he would be my 1st call. I’d call him and he could tell me exactly where to go to get back in the right direction. He expected me to call him when I got to my gate at the airport, when I landed and when I checked into the hotel on business trips. When I was sick he would make sure I had Sprite then would call throughout the day and wake me up to ask if I was getting any rest. When he sat next to me he held my hand. Always. If I ever went more than 3 or 4 days without talking to him I would get a melodramatic voicemail while I was working that said something like, “I guess the only way I can talk to you is if I schedule an appointment. You don’t love me anymore. Maybe one day you will find time in your busy schedule to call your dad.” Then would laugh and say, “Just call me when you can. I don’t need anything. Bye baby doll.” He would sing Barry Manilow’s song ‘Mandy’ to me on my birthday. He loved me. He made me feel safe.

Love like that takes some of the sting out of living in this world.

One sunny day in June, he went to the ER with numbness in his arm, some dizziness and a headache he couldn’t shake. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and was dead 8 months later.

Life is brief.

18 months have passed since my Dad died. I’m no longer consumed by my grief. I don’t cry every day, every week or even every month. I can think of him and find comfort in the legacy he left with me. I’ve adjusted to life without him.

This morning I dropped off the kids at school then went downtown to run. Actually it’s mostly a jog. Who am I kidding, it’s a slow run until I remember that I really suck at running then it’s quickly downgraded to a jog until I approach a big hill, which then gets downgraded yet again and turns into a winded, panting walk sometimes crawl. The goal is to just make it back to my car before I collapse and embarrass myself.

As I was heading up the big hill at the panting, near collapse part of my walk a song come on my playlist that I don’t remember having put on there. It was sandwiched in between Lenny Kravitz and Rihanna. It was a song from a Christian artist, Laura Story, called ‘Blessings’. I was amused at the irony of the eclectic mix of musical genres, but continued to trudge up the hill without much thought until a lyric from that song created a tsunami of emotions causing my eyes to well with tears.

The lyric was:

“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. And all the while, you hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.”

It may have been pure coincidence that at that moment I was literally running alongside the hospital of the ER where my Dad went. It could have just so happened that a song like that would pop up in the middle of my playlist. It could be totally random that the song that popped up contained a lyric that spoke straight to my heart altering the course of my morning. But I think not.

I was still about a mile from my car. By the time I got there, I was a mess.

I had been living with a chip on my shoulder.

My secret problem, that I really hadn’t even fully admitted to myself, was that despite my faith in God I’ve always wondered why he didn’t answer my prayers during the time that I was losing my Dad. 1 John 5:14 says that we can be confident that when we pray he hears us. Mark 11:24 even says that whatever you ask for in prayer, to believe and it will be yours. For 8 months, I prayed that my dad would be healed. I prayed for the chemo to work right up to the time when it didn’t and then my prayer changed to “please heal him or take him.”

I was kind of quietly pissed about the whole ordeal if I’m being honest.

I finally made it back to my car. I got in, pulled up the lyrics and read them several times. “He loves us way too much to give us lesser things.” Was my request to him to heal my Dad and keep him here with me a lesser thing?

Yes, actually, it was.

My Dad was coming to the end of fulfilling the purpose God had created for his life here on earth. The problem was that my plan and God’s plan didn’t match up. It didn’t work for me. I didn’t like it.

Thank goodness I’m not in charge.

I can recall praying for relationships to work out only to later be grateful that they didn’t. When I was fresh out of college I prayed for a certain job then much later on saw how it would have been a disaster had I gotten it. I’ve prayed for God to take away the various pressures and stresses of my life, not understanding at the time that he was preparing me for the purpose he had created for me. That the pressures were often what motivated me to do more, get better and become who I am.

I’m happy I don’t always get what I want.

My heavenly father loves me more than my earthly one was capable of and he won’t allow anything lesser for me.

Even if I don’t like it. Even if I don’t understand.

I started a blog on July 8, 2013 to keep everyone current with medical updates with my dad and to help keep all the questions he got to a minimum. It quickly turned into posts mingled with personal stories about our relationship. He would call me after a post, sometimes crying, and tell me he read it 10 times. He’d ask when I’d write another one. It kept me motivated to produce. After he died the blog site sent me a beautiful book with a copy of all my posts and everyone’s comments in it as a keepsake. When I got home this morning, I dug it out and randomly opened it to an entry from November 13, 2013. On that date I was wrestling with the same issue.

An excerpt from the post that day reads:

“One day when it’s my turn to leave this earth I think my 1st question to God, when I see him face to face, will be to see the playbook. I’d love to see the strategy he came up with for each of our lives. This helps the cheerleader in this situation relax and cheer without it being as burdensome of a task. I can root for the team and not question the coach. There is a reason he is the coach.”

Such a good reminder, written with own words, to further douse me in peace this morning.

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, he did, indeed, love me way too much to give me lesser things. He loved my Dad too much to give him lesser things. I still don’t have the answers to why, but I have faith that tells me it was all part of a much grander plan.

My heavenly father (I picture my Dad standing with him as he did it) choose a time when I was alone and clear minded to infuse wisdom. It’s amazing really. He used a mundane Monday morning jog, with girl deep in the middle of jamming to a collection of randomness including the likes of Jay Z to speak to her heart in a way she understood.

Because he won’t allow lesser things.

Gangster Rap Wisdom

Last weekend was my birthday.

I did what any middle-aged, mom of 2, yoga pant wearing woman does. I went to a Fall Out Boy concert with Wiz Khalifa as the opening act and Hoodie Allen as the opening act for the opening act.

So to set the scene, I’m with my son. It’s his first time attending a concert. Picture a 13 year old boy with good hair, wearing seer sucker shorts and boat shoes sitting beside his glossy lipped mother in white lace shorts, holding a coach purse. We were in no danger of losing each other as we could be easily spotted from about anywhere in the crowd. This is because everyone else was teenage to early twenty-somethings dressed in black and wearing skull caps.

The concert was set to begin at 7pm. By 6:30pm we had our $8 slice of pizza and $5 root beer in hand, sitting in our seats, ready and waiting. A popular DJ came out and began warming up the crowd. Pretty good. Got our heads bobbin. Then a rapper came out, Max or Mac or something. Couldn’t really understand the words he was saying (refer back to 2nd sentence where I confessed to being middle-aged), but he seemed like a nice boy. Then another rapper came out. Hoodie Allen, another young up and comer, again didn’t understand a word out of his mouth. It was probably for the best.

But then, the opening act who was getting as much hype as the headliner came on stage. The crowd erupted. I was excited and cheered too just from the influence of the energy the crowd was generating. Wiz Khalifa walked out in baggy jeans and a baggier blue t-shirt. No need for introduction as the crowd was ready so he immediately began rapping. Unlike the opening acts for the opening acts who I’d just heard, I was able to understand most of what he was saying. He was on stage for an hour. Longest opening act I’d ever witnessed.

This is what I pondered from watching him for the 1st time:

1. He likes weed.

I’ve never tried weed. Maybe I should. Maybe we technically did as we were breathing air from the cloud of smoke that hovered over the people on the floor. Wiz seemed like he was in a really good mood because of it. He talked about it to us a lot and he barely even knew us. Most people smoke weed to help them feel happy, relaxed and detached from reality. That sounds, to me, like it would be perfect for a Monday or when the in-laws are coming for dinner. However, he smoked it the whole time he performed and spoke of his love for it during his entire time on stage. I wish he didn’t feel so bad that he needed to detach from reality so often. I wonder why he needs a drug to help him escape from his emotions on a regular basis. Made me a little sad for him. Maybe money and fame don’t buy happiness. I don’t know.

2. N****r, please.

I’m not only not willing to type out the word, I’m also not willing to say it. I’ve been taught that it’s offensive and rude. Wiz is not afraid to say it. Over and over and over. Now I realize it’s a freedom he uses in his art form, but it sure seems like we are taking a giant step back with educating our children on how to respect others when that art is being marketed to millions of youth whom will memorize the lyrics and sing them back to him at his concerts. Wiz, stop calling yourself ugly names. You don’t deserve it. I don’t want a large crowd chanting an offensive word that many people are trying so hard to keep out of their kids mouths…out of respect for you. Love yourself a little more than degrading yourself and an entire race of people. Let’s just call you Wiz, if that’s the name you like. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Think of your audience! Remind yourself that you’re smart enough, you’re good enough and gosh darn it people like you.

3. The body is a canvas.

I gleaned from watching him that your body should never run out of space for new ink. One day, I hope to have an opportunity to find out the story behind all the symbols, plants and designs that adorn his body. However, as the aforementioned middle-aged mom of 2, I’d like to use this time to issue a word of caution to all his young fans whom are likely not going to read this blog, but it will still make me feel better to get it off my chest soooo. If you have career aspirations to become a rapper, prison guard, tattoo artist or lead a gang of bikers then tat it up. Try and see if you can include your eyelids too. People forget that area sometimes. However, if you have a career path that would lead you into other, more conventional areas, I’d warn against any ink on the face, neck or hands. As a better visual, maybe think about only tatting the white parts of a farmers tan.

4. He’s a nice guy.

Wiz is charismatic and quite encouraging to his young fans. There is a lot to learn from him. I know, I know, that’s not what you were expecting to read next. I have to hand it to him though, he impressed me with the motivating messages he kept yelling to the attentive crowd. He told them to “believe in yourself”, “you can be whoever you want to be”, “you are powerful” and “go after what you want, don’t let anyone get you down”. Wow, Wiz, nice move. Not that you asked, but I approve. If that’s the kind of thing you say to your fans, no wonder they like you so much. You take the time you’re given on stage and build up your followers. While we were in line to buy a t-shirt, my son and I even overheard a young girl tell another young girl that you make her want to try harder to be better. You clearly are a smart man too. I mean, you smoked kush (yes, I know cool words for marijuana now) the entire time and still managed to remember every lyric to every song. Impressive.

Wiz, I kind of like you, minus all your drug references, calling yourself names, calling women biotches and the teardrop tats on your face. Actually, I agreed with the girl in line, you made me think of being better too. Made me think of how favorably people respond to a relaxed, non-judgey attitude, laced with words of encouragement. Made me want to try more to be like that. Made me want to sit you on a couch and talk to you about the hurt you cover with drugs and mean lyrics. Made me hope someone was encouraging you to be better too.

We are all in leadership roles. Whether it be leading our children, a group of friends, employees, a Little League team or leading by example, we ALL lead. We can learn from ole’ Wiz. After all he is successful in gathering quite the fan base. He’s doing something right. Perhaps it’s the non-judgmental, positive, encouraging way he engages his followers. They respond well to it, imagine that! Kudos, Mr. Khalifa.

After that Fall Out Boy came out and killed it. Maybe it was the contact buzz, but I totally forgot about how I didn’t fit in and rocked out with my 13 year old. Nothing like a good mother/son 2nd hand smoke high as your kid’s 1st concert experience to make you question your parenting skills. Glad I forgot how much I liked those Fall Out Boy songs because it was like a birthday surprise. Love how exciting and energetic it is to be around people who are dancing around with you! Happy my son had a great time and wasn’t bothered by being at a concert with his mom.

I didn’t expect to be most affected by the opening act, but I’m glad I got a chance to be introduced to Wiz and his music.

So that’s it. The concert didn’t end until 11pm. We decided to stay the night and went back to our room and ordered food from a pizza place around midnight. We sat in bed, watched Disney channel, ate junk, then slept in our clothes and left the next morning. It earned me some cool mom points.

Cheers to another birthday in the books. Another year older. Another few new songs I learned that can be downloaded into my playlist to help make it just a little more psychotic.

Freak In The Sheets

My mother tells a story of when I was about 5 years old. She heard a noise in the middle of the night. She got out of bed to go investigate and noticed I wasn’t in my bedroom. She then walked into the kitchen and found me pushing a baby doll stroller back and forth with a dazed look on my face. Sounds like stuff out of a scary movie. She said I had no memory of it the next morning.

My friends from school have stories of me sitting up in bed and talking about random things during the night when we had sleepovers.

My husband most often gets to witness my bizarre behavior during my sleep. Mostly talking nonsense in the middle of the night and sitting up in bed sleeping. Once he got up and found me in the kitchen rummaging through cabinets. I’m not sure what that was about.

I’ve had seasons of insomnia for as long as I can remember. My mind won’t shut off. The daily stresses of life always seem to create the most sleep stopping thoughts right about bedtime.

My typical insomnia-fest routine looks something like this:

Lay in bed, eyes closed, hoping I’ll fall asleep.

Start hearing noises. Assume someone is trying to break in my house. Get up and check door locks. Double check to make sure alarm system is on. Peek in the kid’s bedrooms to make sure they are still in there. Give the dog the ‘you let me know if you see anything fishy’ look.

Go back to bed to stare at ceiling.

Pinterest

In no certain order my mind then begins to relive conversations, contemplate if my son’s dentist appointment is tomorrow or the next day, think about upcoming social events, kick myself for something dumb I said to someone, what I’ll wear, did I remember to send in the enrollment form for my daughter’s next thing, etc., etc….

Fall back to sleep approximately 45 minutes before alarm goes off to start the day.

What ticks me off the most is when my husband is in the bed, has been in a deep sleep since 30 seconds after hitting the pillow and is clearly not thinking about a thing. Hateful Amanda wants to jerk the pillow out from under his head and make him talk to me about chemicals or monthly EBITDA goals. That talk normally spaces me out and has me sleeping with my eyes open within seconds. Nice Amanda doesn’t do that. She just stares at the ceiling and listens to him snore

When I mention my insomnia to friends and they respond with ‘try some melatonin’ or ‘don’t drink caffeine’ I nearly want to punch them because I’ve already taken enough melatonin to induce a coma and haven’t had caffeine in months yet still sleep evades me. No remedy helps, no cocktail that is promised to help me sleep works.

The biggest problem with me not getting sleep is that being tired for too long makes me emotionally fragile. The outcome resembles the same attitude of when I’m overly hungry and the restaurant is being slow with the food. You have been warned.

This week during my middle-of-the-night-reading-something-anything moments I happened upon this scripture. Pretty confident it wasn’t just by coincidence that I stumbled upon this specific verse out of all the verses in the bible.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Therein lies my problem.

My lack of trust. Lack of faith. My attempts to depend on myself and do it on my own. Falling into the reoccurring problem of people pleasing. That’s what keeps me up at night, not insomnia.

Upon this lightbulb moment, I began to pray…silently, so not to wake Mr Sleeping Beauty. I say something along the lines of ‘Thank you for taking this. Thank you for caring about the details of what worries me. Thank you for promising to give me rest. I need it. I’m so sorry for making this harder on myself than it needs to be. I must be hard for you to watch. Please forgive me for forgetting how much more full my life would be if I would just trust you more.’ I then begin to have a conversation (prayer) silently in my head of what’s really eating at me and ask him to take it. He already knows anyway so I lay it all out no matter how petty. I tell him I don’t want to worry about some frustration I have with a friend. That I’m really tired of being worried about how many calories I consumed that day. How I’m worried about how someone else will act at a meeting. Everything. I go into detail of each and every thing and thank him for taking it.

The most intriguing of this to me is that I fell asleep during this prayer. If it were anyone else offering to be dumped on and I fell asleep while dumping they would be offended, but I think in this case that it must be a promise being fulfilled from God. Maybe when he sees me finally throwing up my hands and surrendering and trusting him he gives me the desire of my heart. Sleep.

I woke up the next morning, realized I fell asleep during the prayer and felt exactly what he promised. Refreshed and new.

Before anyone comments let me say that insomnia is a real medical condition that people really have. It’s miserable to want to sleep and not be able to. I, however, wasn’t suffering from insomnia. I was suffering from a self-induced, perfectionistic method of trying to be in control over what I most often had no control over.

I’m the child of a king. I can sleep well at night!

And now I do.

Until the next time.

Spinny Chairs

I have never been a fan of American Idol. I watched the first couple seasons way back when Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were judges, but stopped watching because I couldn’t stand how mean they were to the contestants. I agreed with them many times, but I would have found a less abrasive way to tell the brave contestants they have no singing ability rather than making soul crushing remarks of rejection to them. Call it my southern upbringing, but being rude is never attractive. Simon would famously criticize the appearance of a contestant, telling them they don’t look the part forgetting it was a singing competition, not a beauty contest. He even would laugh at some people, like he did with the super talented Susan Boyle, for their un-Hollywood like style. This started a trend for all the other singing shows that have spring boarded off American Idol’s fame. They are all the same. Is there a rule somewhere that all singing reality shows must feature three famous celebrity judges, one of which is required to be a royal ass?

There is a show that has taken my fancy. The Voice. It looks the same as all the others at first glance. They have four celebrity judges (Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams) who listen to countless numbers of aspiring singers and critique the artists’ performances. Each judge chooses contestants to be on their team by sitting in spinning chairs with big red buttons in front of them. If they like what they hear they push the button, spinning their chair around to reveal the identity of the singer. For the remainder of the season the chosen contestants work with their judge (coach) and compete against each other until a winner is ultimately selected at the season finale. What makes this show different and endearing is that the judges don’t get to see the contestants until after they have chosen them for their team. It has zero to do with appearance of performer and 100% to do with their performance….imagine that. If more than one judge chooses the contestant, the contestant can choose which judge’s team he/she would like to be on. That’s another one of my favorite parts of the show. In that case the judges vying for the contestant usually try to use flattery to persuade them to join their team. It’s fun to watch the awkward 22 year old IHOP waitress from Kansas stand there and watch as Adam and Pharrell fight over her. You can see the surreal experience playing out on her face. The show is refreshing in that every contestant gets a fair shot. It doesn’t matter what they look like. They are judged on talent.

One of the areas I volunteer in my community is in the student ministry at my church. Oh how I wish we could strap those teenagers in chairs and let them talk and get to know each other, not seeing the physical appearance until after conversation. Not until they’ve decided they want to push that red button and spin around. The spinny chairs would aid in developing more authentic and unlikely relationships. It would help cut those friendships that are mostly for status. It’s not just teenagers either. Adults do the same thing. We often gravitate towards people and form our friendships using the Simon Cowell method of judging. Relationships matter and life is just too short to be like Simon. He would pick contestants this week, then later eliminate them when their lack of talent becomes obvious. He passed up amazing contestants and chose some that weren’t as good based on the level of eye candy they offered. In contrast, Adam, for example, never seems to be negatively affected by the contestants surprise appearance because he has already fallen in love with their talent. The appearance is just an unimportant side note. His choices are more longstanding. It pains him to see them get eliminated as the season progresses because he chose them for honest reasons….being their singing ability.

My husband is the oldest of 5 siblings. His parents both worked to keep a roof over their heads, but there was never much extra money left for anything not necessary. He had clothes to wear to school, but it wasn’t the stonewashed Guess jeans that everyone had or the latest pair of Nikes. He remembers how he was judged by how he looked by kids he went to school with. One story that he always tells is of a teacher who made fun of him in middle school. He recalls wearing a pair of sweats this particular day and being picked on by kids because he had a hole in the knee of them. When a teacher overheard this instead of defending him he started making jokes with the bullies and teasing him as well. He talks of how much that embarrassed him and made him feel less than the other students. Flash forward 20+ years and my husband is with some business associates at a restaurant when he spots that teacher at another table eating. He walked over, shook Mr. Jerkface’s hand and asked him if he remembered him. He told him that he was a former student of his. The teacher didn’t remember so he told him his name. That’s when the old, balding, now retired teacher’s mouth dropped open. He did remember him. He couldn’t believe who that boy from his class so many years ago had become. The teacher seemed impressed, asked him where he went to college, asked what he does for a living and congratulated him on his accomplishments. My husband told him thanks for being part of putting that drive in him to succeed. When the teacher thanked him and asked him how he did that my husband told him something like this: “Because you made fun of me when I was in your class for what I was wearing. I was just a kid and it was all I had to wear that day. School was hard enough for me, but your comment that day made me more determined to prove everyone wrong. So thanks.” The teacher seemed obviously shocked and apologized having no memory of that happening. I wish that man had a spinny chair back when my husband was in his middle school class. He could have without unfair comparison clearly heard how smart, driven and ambitious his student was. He would have definitely hit that red button and not cared as much about the pants the kid was wearing.

We all want to be judged fairly. We hope that someone will look past our outward imperfections and see us for who we are. The person who offers that to us esteems themselves even higher when that happens. That person is an encouragement to us and adds fuel to our passions and talents. It builds us up and makes us better. When we offer that to others we discover relationships that are valuable and real. Most of us don’t look like the photoshopped images we see on the magazine covers, but we are all gifted with abilities that are unique to us. Not judging a book by it’s cover is easier said than done, but worth the effort. It’s win-win.

Would anyone choose Simon over Adam? If you know of anyone who would please let me know. I want to talk to them. As their friend you may consider having a heart to heart conversation with them. Friends don’t let friends admire Simon Cowell.