Monday, October 5, 2015

TBH.....I Pray you LIVE BIG!

This past weekend I was sitting in my driveway at a firepit, and my neighbor’s daughter (who is 14) was there and we were talking.  

We were having a conversation about school, and social media, and friendship, and Homecoming, and more.    This girl is amazing, and she is one of my favorite people.   So much so, that I spent a night with my adult friends, talking mostly to her.  And she had a lot to say…..some incredibly funny, and some pretty serious, and some that really made me think.

I was telling her something my eighth grade daughter had said to me about not wanting to do anything to embarrass herself that would follow her to high school.   And my young friend exclaimed “I KNOW!!   I COMPLETELY AGREE!”     And I tried to impart my adult wisdom to her saying something like “be yourself” or whatever.   And here is what she said…

“I know it seems that way.   But I think it’s harder for my generation than it was for yours, because everything goes on Instagram or Facebook.   It’s ALL out there.”

And I got to thinking about that, and you know what?   She’s right.

It is so much harder in some respects.   When I was home on a weekend with my family, I wasn’t bombarded with photos of what everyone was else was doing.   I didn’t’ have to look at pictures of all the parties I wasn’t included in, or the dance I wasn’t at, or notice if suddenly my friend count was down.   Who left me?   Why?  What did I do?

I didn’t have to worry about someone posting a picture of me that I didn’t’ like, or that made me look silly.    I didn’t have to worry that anyone would comment on a picture or a comment saying something negative.   WE didn’t worry what our rate would be, or TBH.  I worried when I was at school, and I worried when I was out, but when I was home…..I was safe.   I was protected.

Our kids are not. 

And I hate it.   People who won’t speak to you in person will see moments in your life that don’t involve them.   They will comment, and make judgement.    Our kids are putting so much of their lives out there for social acceptance, and it’s hurting them.

I don’t know what the answer to this is.   Good or bad, social media is here.   We all take selfies, and snap photos with our phones, and comment and look and post….   But I guess what I am going to take away from this is to try to teach my kids that their success or failure has nothing to do with how many followers they have.    I am going to encourage them to live their lives big, and if they choose to post about it, to do it without apology.   If you are living your life truly, then let the rest be damned.

I know I can’t take the pain of growing up away.   Middle school is brutal, and I can only imagine what high school will bring for them, but I hope I can somehow convince them to live big.   

Don't let the internet make you small.   EVER!

LIVE BIG FOR YOURSELF.   And don’t spend so much time looking at what everyone else is doing.   Because TBH, Like for a rate, and all that other BS will mean nothing when they find what truly makes them happy.

And I hope my neighbor hears me too. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

What "After" Looks Like

I went to the gym today.


It’s been a while.   And I always feel a little dread when I know a workout is going to be hard.   But I went.   AGAIN. 

And even though I haven’t been in a while it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t go back.   That even though I have gained a little or lost a little or whatever, that no matter what, no matter how long has passed, no matter how much I know it might suck, I ALWAYS go back.

And  I had a little light bulb moment that has been brewing in my head for a while.

I belong to a great gym.   Anytime Fitness in Liberty is awesome.   I love the staff, my trainer who I have been with for several YEARS is there and he rocks.   I have friends I can always count on for a hello when I am there…..   It’s great.   And I have very little to complain about except this.

Before and Afters.  

Corporate gyms always post the before and afters of their “success” stories to motivate people, and lately I have seen on their pages the “share your story” or “how did you succeed” stories and it has really gotten me down.   I don’t have that perfect “after” photo to share.   I have worked and worked, and lost and gained, and broken bones, and torn things, and sweat my BUTT off, done a half marathon, and still the struggle remains.   And what the gym industry is showing me through their campaign is that unless I am a perfect size 6, they may not care quite as much about my story because it’s not as glossy and sexy as losing 100 pounds and competing in my first body building contest.   I haven’t cured myself of diabetes, or anything dramatic.   And sometimes when I’m feeling low, I look at that and feel like somehow all the lifestyle changes I have made aren’t important if I don’t have a miraculous makeover to show for it.

But my story counts. 

My story is important.

And I have an “after” too.

You see, my “after” isn’t a picture.   It’s a part of my life.   If you look at me, there are things that are different, my hair is longer (and greyer), I have a few more wrinkles, but my weight hasn’t changed a lot.   My “after” isn’t something you can necessarily see.  

My “after” may look very similar to my “before” from a physical standpoint, but what has changed is the place that health and fitness sits in my life.  

Because NOW I would never dream of quitting.  

I have been consistently exercising since 2008 when I started this journey, and now I would never even entertain the thought of NOT going back to the gym, no matter how long it has been.   It’s become part of who I am, and part of what makes me feel good as a person.   

That’s my after.   

That’s the change I have made.   And it’s just as valuable, even IF it’s  not as marketable.  J

I am by NO MEANS taking anything from those amazing transformation pictures.   I know folks who have been featured and their stories are nothing short of inspiring.   I read them sometimes to motivate myself.  

I just think it’s important that people understand that that isn’t the ONLY form of success.  

Sometimes it’s a little less noticeable, but not at all less admirable or important.   I proved that to myself today as my trainer kicked my butt.   I won’t quit.   Ever.   And that’s something to be really proud of.

It may not look like much, but the change has been immense.

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Safe Place to Land

Last weekend I drove to Iowa to move my parents from their home of 40 years on the farm to their new home in town.    I was five years old when they moved into this house.   I have no memory to speak of, of any home before this one.

As the week drew shorter leading up to the move, I found myself feeling very emotional.   As I received updates from my sister on the state of the move, I would cry, or be sad, or find myself just sitting and looking at pictures trying to burn them into my head.  I was so afraid that once mom and dad moved from the house, I would forget everything.   And in this case, everything meant a great portion of my life.    Like somehow THIS house contained my childhood, good times and sad times, and when it was gone……that would be too.

So I started making a list of things I didn’t want to forget.  

I didn’t want to forget the dinging sound that the flagpole made when the wind blew hard.

I didn’t want to forget which stairs to skip to make sure not to make noise when you got home after curfew.

I didn’t want to forget the time my brother and sister scared the bejeezus out of me by hiding at the end of the hall in a clown mask and jumping out when I came upstairs.  (and to this day the hallway always makes me jumpy in the dark)

I wanted to remember every birthday, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  We laughed a LOT in this house.

I also wanted to remember the losses.   From people to marriages.   This house was ALWAYS a soft place to land.

I was afraid of forgetting how we picked apples in the orchard, baled hay, climbed in the barn, rode horses in the ring, flew kites on windy days, sledded down the driveway, swung on the homemade swing set. 

We had Easter Egg hunts in the yard that sometimes got physical.

We got stuck in the snow in the driveway.

We had snapping turtles show up from the pond, and stray dogs all the time.

I was afraid to forget all the pets that we had laid to rest on the hill in the pasture. 

I didn’t’ want to lose the images of so much and the list went on and on….

It was heartbreaking, but we knew it was best for mom and dad.   It was the next chapter.   And we had to move things out.

I arrived on Friday, and by mid day Saturday, almost everything was moved to the new home.    And something pretty amazing happened.   As each piece of furniture was moved, as each box left the house….so did the amazing energy that this beautiful farmhouse held for me for all those years.    And as we moved them into the new house, the energy moved too. 

For you see…..I realized that what I was afraid of losing…..the memories…..the sense of comfort that I have always gotten from driving up that long driveway…..was not the house, but the contents.   And not just the stuff….but the people who had shared these memories with me.

And as soon as mom heated up the “sloppy joes” we had for lunch on Saturday and the new house smelled with that familiar scent, and we all convened for our first real meal at the new house…..I knew we’d be fine.   Because it isn’t the house, but the people in it that make the home.   And my worry of forgetting has faded a little.   We won’t ever let ourselves forget because when we are together….we remember.   We tell stories.  We love each other.

So, on Sunday when we finished cleaning, and we five stood in the house together, there was hesitation to walk out.   We took a picture on the porch of just the five of us…just as we came to it nearly 40 years ago.  No one wanted to be first, to leave our home for so long.   It was bittersweet.  But we left.   And we drove down the lane.   And we headed to town to the new house.  

And once we arrived, we started laughing through our tears, and I knew we’d be okay.   Because it isn’t the house that contains the family, it is the family that occupies the house.  And we've just decided to occupy another.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When the Earth Quakes, Walls Crack.

I want live completely in the sun.

This is a simple statement, but one that I have taken a long time to come to.  And when I say this, I don’t mean I want to go to the beach, or sit outside (although that would be AWESOME), what I mean is, I want to take ALL of my life into the sun.  

To do this, I have to give a tiny bit of back story…

When Andy was born, he was not healthy.   It was a tough time for us.  Fast forward a few weeks in his life, and we are having long term stays at Children’s hospital. It was a very tough time. 

You would think that a Children’s hospital would be full of light, but in reality, that place was dark.  They had expanded building next to building with no regard to sunlight or air.   Our room had two windows, both of which looked out not upon a sunny courtyard or play area, but upon a brick wall that extended floors upward blocking the sun, or any view of the outside world.   I never thought of it until today, but those windows to nowhere, they closed me off.   They made it impossible for me to see that the world continued to move, and people continued to go about their business, and the sun continued to shine.    Lots of time I didn’t know what time it was, and it always felt like night.  It was dark, and it was scary, and it was hard.   I spent a lot of time staring at that wall outside my window, wondering what was beyond it. 

But we survived, and my son is essentially healthy nearly 11 years later.   And you may ask yourself, “’then WHY are you bringing this up Tina?”

Well here’s why.   Today I had an epiphany about that time in my life.   I walked into that room one person who was scared and isolated and alone.   And the irony of the room was that the windows were brick, and I couldn’t see out.   I was completely in the dark with the emotions of those days.    I didn’t see the world continue to go about its business.   I only saw what was contained in that room.  And what was in that room was scary and uncertain.  In that room I didn’t relax, or smile, or fell hope.   In that room I was on high alert.   All. The. Time.

Time passed, lots of time, and eventually my boy got healthy and strong.   And we were allowed to go home.

I emerged from that room, presumably to a happier, brighter, sunnier place.   My son was better.   We had answers.   But what I have realized, is that part of me has continued to stay behind to stare at the brick wall, stuck in time on high alert, waiting.  And the part of me that did walk out of there , has spent the better part of a decade trying to pretend I am the same person I was when I went in.   You see, this isn’t about my son and his journey, it’s about ME and MINE. 

When I walked into that room, both literally and metaphorically, I didn’t realize it but I was never going to be the same. And because of that, there is a part of me that has continued to only see the brick wall blocking the sun.   That part of me has held on for dear life because what I learned in that room is that the floor can literally fall from beneath you and shake you to your core.   Grief and fear are powerful things.

My entire world was shaken.   Everything I knew to be true was tested.   And yet, somehow, I thought I could emerge exactly the same.    It’s really quite a silly thought, but I have continued to play along all this time.   Don’t get me wrong, I have NOT been miserable or even CLOSE to unhappy all this time.   I have a super life.   My kids are awesome, my husband is great!   My life is really blessed.   But I had never acknowledged that maybe some part of me deep inside was holding on to the fear.

That little game ended today, because what happened in those early years of my son’s life HAVE changed me.   They changed who I am, and how I view the world, and how I handle my life.   I have never been the same.   And today when I realized that, I saw the vision of that brick wall out the window in my memory and it struck a chord.   Part of me has lived in the dark staring at that wall for all this time.   And I think I’m ready to see what’s on the other side. 

When the earth quakes, walls crack.  

All this time I have been “staring” at that wall through the window and willing it to stand as protection.   For whatever reason today I felt ready to let down my guard and feel the tremor.  And it wasn’t so scary.   And I was okay.  Instead of feeling only fear, I allowed myself to see the safety and peace that I have found in my life.  And guess what I saw when I peeked through the slit in the mortar and the bricks? 

The sun.