Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Crack Kitten

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning to the many noises of Link, our cat.  He's a loving, well-behaved kitten until almost exactly 5:00 every morning.  Apparently this is the time he has his kitty coffee and kicks into hyper speed.

Crack Kitty is what we call it.

This hasn't been a problem before now because for the last four years I've slept with ear plugs.  Now that the husband has dropped almost 50 pounds in the last three months (take a moment to think about how incredible that is!), he no longer snores and for the sake of my ears, I need to get used to sleeping without ear plugs again.

Which is why the kitten that I usually love and dote on in the mornings is getting scowls and growls from me these days.

This morning he started in on the wooden blinds in our room.  He likes to get behind them and look out, which isn't a problem except that they're heavy and bulky and the bang and clang around when he gets in them.  And when you have one more precious hour of sleep, it's a most unwelcome interruption. 

So I start thinking about what I can do to keep him from being able to get in the blinds in our room.  There are plenty of other blinds on that side of the house that can afford him a view of the dog, he just needs to know that he's not welcome to use the view from our room anymore.

So I'm thinking that I could get some pieces of plexi glass in 5"x18" strips and use L-brackets to mount them to the inside of the window pane where it blocks him from getting his paw behind the blinds to pop them out and let him on the other side.  Cheap and easy and since they would be hidden behind the curtains, it wouldn't be very noticeable.

Once I got the cat to accept that I would cause severe harm to him if he didn't get out of the blinds, he expressed his angst with me by clawing on the side of the bed until I swatted at him.  After that, he decided he'd rather jump up on the bed directly on top of me anyway.  I silently fumed for a moment before swatting him away.

In that moment I envisioned what could be my best invention ever if I had more of an inclination for tinkering.  This invention can be customized for your needs and for the behaviors of your cat, so for those of you who have a cat that 'cracks out' at a certain time of night, you can set the device for that particular time.  In our instance, apparently Link's witching hour is 5:00 a.m., so that's what time I would set ours for.  At shortly before 5:00 a.m. this device would use a variety of sensors to locate the cat and physically catapult/eject the cat from the room. 

Instead of doing just that to the cat that was still—at this time—perched in the middle of my back, I just swatted him off.  He took this as his cue to engage his turbo boosters and spend the next twenty minutes jingling his way through the house at top speed.

This cat is going to be the death of me.  Or him.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

There's Only Grace

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday has disappeared
The dirt has washed away And now it's clear

There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy
And believe me it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
There's nothing left now
There's only grace

I was re-arranging my closet as I listened to these words.  It's my semi-annual ritual of swapping the summer clothes with the winter clothes.  As I did this mindless task my thoughts had wandered to goings on in my life, both past and present.

As I belted out the words along with Matthew West, God spoke to me.

You see, as I had been re-arranging my closet, I was in thought about some ugliness that has drifted through the past few years of my life like fog across the still surface of a lake.  I've been trying to figure out why I have continually felt so plagued with others on the outer perimeter of my life causing problems that made me feel almost as if they were trying to steal my happiness.  And I've begun to wonder if that's what it was....I'm happy.

And the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it all coincides with exactly that.

When I found myself as a single mother so many years ago, there was one thing that I came to inwardly realize.  Only I have the ability to make me happy.  And if I couldn't make myself happy, I had no chance of helping anyone else with their happiness.

And this is a difficult thing to do.  You can't just decide "I will make myself happy" and then instantaneously be happy.  It's a struggle.  How do you make yourself happy?  How do you keep others from making you unhappy?  

Over time I realized that my acceptance of myself played a part in my happiness.  I removed frenemies from my life that continually stirred up drama, I stopped looking for a guy to complete me and my little family and started spending my down time in the yard with Ty or on the couch with a book.  I started finding ways of making myself happy, and I found happiness along the way.

And then along came a man.  Mystery Man, as he was known for several months.  And he made me even happier.  We had about 10 months of sunshine-out-our-backsides-happiness before we got engaged in 2010.  

The happiness didn't stop there.  But the trials started.  Around the time we got engaged I felt attacked in various ways.  On our Wedding Day I was under attack in a big way.  Life was giving me all these reasons to be happy, and others on the outside were giving me reasons not to be.

And so it continued.  As Jason and I started our lives together and found our way together, we had to fight off conflict and drama that I've never really had to deal with before.  It all felt very personal and very deliberate, but now in looking back, it feels different.

Over time things have gotten better.  Where problems were before, they are no more.

And where that source of trouble has faded away, another has stepped up to take its place.  

I've been tried in a big way over the past few years.  I've had phases of ugliness that have attacked me and I've had hateful, nasty, uncalled for comments made to me and about me and it's left me feeling quite ugly on the inside as a result. 

My soul has become heavy and weary, so much so that when the song Worn (by Tenth Avenue North) came out, it was instantly my Heart Song.  

I’m tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

And this is where my thoughts were as Matthew West sang Only Grace and I found myself singing along with him.  When I'm worn and I'm broken, I turn to God.  But I also turn in on myself, too.  And when I turn in on myself, it's hard not to feel sorry for myself and to see—both magnified and amplified—all the things wrong with me and all the things I'm missing.  And when the reasons for your unhappiness are all too obvious, it's hard to see others who appear to have it together and have everything that your heart hurts for and not wish that they at least knew a little of the pain that you were feeling.  

I've thought for several years now that these attacks on me may not be what they feel like...what if they're unhappy people struggling to be happy for others.  What if they're wounded souls—like a wounded animal—that strike out at the hands and hearts that could help them if they'd let them.

What if this is why God keeps allowing others to hurt me like this.  Over and over again.  Part of me thinks it's because I'm not bold enough to stand up, speak up and demand "Enough is enough!"...part of me thinks there's a lesson I'm missing out on.

Today, as I sang Only Grace I wondered if it's because I could be an example to those He's trying to reach.  The most hurtful people are all too often the people that have been hurt the most.  This is how they were raised, this is how others have treated them.  This is what they know because it's what they were shown.  The difference between me and them is that I was raised differently.  I was given mercy and love on a regular basis.  I can show them better than they are showing me.  I can give them better than they are giving me.

What if instead of becoming hurt, I became humble?  What if instead of carrying a grudge, I shared grace?

The thought of how very hard it would be is overwhelming.  I can hold a grudge.  I know how to do this.  I've practiced and perfected it for thirty-two years.  Maybe it's time for a little grace instead.  Maybe next time I'm insulted, I can let it slide and understand that the problem really may not lay with me.  The blame doesn't always have to be placed on my shoulders, but if it is, so what.  My God is strong enough to help me carry it.

God works through the difficulties.  Maybe this is His way of telling me to start letting go of my grudges.  And in the process, I can give to others the grace that He's given to me.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Getting There | 100 Happy Days

It has been way too long.  I came back here to add a badge to my blog and was greeted with the smiling faces of the Lake Hamilton kids that brightened our morning almost five months ago.

Five months.

Once upon a time I was on this blog several times a day.

Once upon a time I smiled every time I came here...just like tonight when I saw those kids faces.

Once upon a time this was my sanctuary.

Once upon a time, people used my blog and my words as a way of connecting to me and showing they cared for me.  Not ammunition for criticizing me.  Which has been the reason for my absence for far too long.

I'm doing my best to move past that.  The individuals that were using this sanctuary to hurt me four years ago have now embraced me and are learning to love all of me and not just the (limited) socially acceptable parts of me.

Slowly but surely, I'm bleeding the negativity out of my life.  Slowly but surely I'm getting there.

And when I'm fully there, I'll be back here.

Until then, here's some of the happiness I've had in the last 59 days as I've participated in the 100 Happy Days challenge.

*edit* - okay, so the widget will either let me enter my user-name or the hash-tag, not both.  So you're getting my whole Instagram instead of just the #100happydays images.  That's okay, just more to enjoy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Encouraging

This morning, The Boy and I wound up behind this bus of Lake Hamilton students.  What a great way to start our day!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why I want to raise a nerd

The Boy:  “I’m afraid I’m going to get made fun of.” 

We were on our way to school this morning when my son told me this.  I had just taken this picture of him.  When we were still getting ready earlier that morning, I had told him to get some gloves to wear for school.  He got out his Pikachu hat with the gloves sewn into a scarf.  He looked stinkin’ adorable.  But he was still worried what the other kids would say.

Me:  “Do what you’re comfortable with.  If you’re not comfortable wearing it, don’t wear it.  But if you like it and you want to wear it, then wear it.  Don’t let others decide who you should be.  I get made fun of, too.  I know what it’s like.  You want to wear your Pikachu hat, and you should wear it because you like it.  But if you’re afraid that you’re going to be made fun of and that you won’t be able to handle it, then you can leave it here and just wear your regular gloves.”

The Boy:  “[Unnamed Relative] said that I don’t need to listen to you because you’re going to turn me into a nerd someday.”

Me:  “Being a nerd isn’t a bad thing.  I would be proud if you were a nerd someday.  I would be proud even if you aren’t.  I kind of hope that you become a nerd someday because it’s ‘nerds’ that have created so many good things in life.  Electricity, computers, video games, medicine…  Nerds aren’t bad, they’re people who make life better and more interesting.  Just remember that this is why it’s very important that we don’t make fun of others for wearing or doing things that they like.  We should always encourage each other.  If somebody likes something, we should allow them to like it, even if we don’t.”

This conversation first thing this morning both broke my heart and hurt my feelings.

Can I just say first and foremost that one of the worst things about being a parent is that you put so much effort and energy into making sure your child is happy and confident and secure with whoever they are and whoever they're becoming and whoever they want to be...and others get to make 'funny' comments to break their confidence?  This is honestly one of the things I detest the most in this world  No wonder suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.1  We're teaching our children from a young age that you have to be who others expect you to be and not who you were created to be.

With that said, I thought I'd just take a moment to share with you some of the reasons why I think my kid would benefit if he were to grow up to be a nerd.

But before diving in...let's take a quick look at the word "nerd".  There are a lot of people throwing that word around as if it's something lowly or ugly.  There's nothing negative about it.  Like nerds, the definition of a nerd is a frank, honest, and candid assessment.  We don't hide it.  And we shouldn't apologize for it either.

Merriam-Webster defines "nerd" as:
  1. a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc.
  2. a person who is very interested in technical subjects, computers, etc.2
The Urban Dictionary lists 369 different 'definitions' for the word 'nerd'.  The top four ranked are:
  1. One whose IQ exceeds his weight.
  2. An individual persecuted for his superior skills or intellect, most often by people who fear and envy him.
  3. An 'individual', i.e. a person who does not conform to society's beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.
  4. A stereotypical label used to describe a person that is socially inadequate. A four letter word, but a six figure income.3
So I struck out the first one above because it's pretty offensive to say that larger people can't be nerds, too, even though traditionally it's the skinny white male that's thought of as the nerd.  Nerds—much like homo sapiens in general—come in every shape, size, and color, and dimension.

That's the thing about nerds.  You don't have to fit into a cookie cutter to be one of us.  (Note:  Cookie Cutter is our household slang for the types of individuals who all choose to look the same, act the same, talk the same, and be the same.)

We're accepting.

This basically sums up every reason I could give for why I'm glad I'm a nerd, and why I would be glad if my kid wound up being one, too.

You don't have to look like us to be one of us.  In fact, nerds are kind of like tongue-prints, there are no two nerds that are alike.  Which is why it feels like nerds embrace differences and diversity a little better than non-nerds.  Wear what you want to wear, make what you want to make, share what you want to share, be who you want to be.  We know what it's like to be a pariah for being who we are.  Why would we victimize someone else for being true to who they are?

You also don't have to be passionate about what we're passionate about.  Just be passionate.  Obviously I love Doctor Who.  Does that mean I roll my eyes and groan at every Sherlock fan that comes across my Tumblr Dashboard?  (Trick question:  Sherlock, too, has attained a level of awesome in the 'epic' division and I thoroughly enjoy it as well.)  Find something you like and tell the world why you like it.  You'll meet new friends with a shared interest and you may introduce existing friends to a new passion, but if you don't, that's fine, too.  I enjoy a good book (or a bad book or just about any kind of book) and my husband relaxes best with a video game controller in his hand.  That's fine.  We like what we like.  Nerds accept this.

How do we learn to accept this?  Typically by being rejected.  Honestly, that's the best way to learn.  And I'm okay with my kid facing a little rejection.  I want him to know what it's like to be different so that when he meets others that are different, he can be accepting of them and not hateful, hurtful, or critical.

I also want him to learn to be accepting of himself, too.  I want him to have the safety of being comfortable with himself because I believe that if you're not true to yourself, you'll never truly feel comfortable being yourself and you're less likely to find an honest feeling of safety with anyone else.  If you can't feel safe with someone, how will you be happy with them?

I could list economic reasons as to why I would be tickled to raise a nerd, too.  LZ Granderson did a fine job of it, though, so I would just point you in his direction if that's what you're interested in (See:  Why I'm raising my son to be a nerd, 2011).
Jocks go on to play for your favorite team but nerds go on to own the teams those jocks play for. --LZ Granderson

When it comes down to it, I will love my kid no matter what he turns out to be.  If dyed his skin green and decided he wanted to be an alien when he grows up, you know what, the only thing that would change for me is what colors we choose to wear for our Christmas Cards.  If he woke up one day and embraced sports whole-heartedly, I will cheer him on at whatever he chooses to try—whether he succeeds or not.

But the honest truth of it is that my kid likes to read.  My kid likes science.  My kid loves to learn.  My kid is fascinated by technology.  Why wouldn’t I embrace that?  Why wouldn’t I encourage him?  Why would I make him think that he is anything less than one of God’s most wonderful creations—no matter what he does with or becomes in his life?

My kid is a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) kid.  And those kids are going to be the adults that will be running the show in the future.  Does that mean there’s no place for Jocks or Pencil Pushers or Cookie Cutters?  No, we all have our place in the future.  But my I want to raise my kid to change the world, not change himself.
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