Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Contemplating My Navel. Or Botox.

Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror this morning….Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s start again…

Staring at my new crop of wrinkles this morning, I found myself musing….

“Hmmm. Maybe I should try a little botox. Just right here. On my eyebrow cleavage.”

You know the spot. Right between your eyebrows. It hadn’t bothered me that much before. But this morning, when I was contemplating injecting bacterial toxins into my body all for the sake of beauty, I gasped a little.

That just isn’t me. I’m happy with the way God made me. I’ve always said, I could never alter my appearance, unnecessarily, all for the sake of measuring up to society’s standard of attractiveness. Plastic surgery for accident victims or malformations of the body? Sure. But to emulate someone in a fashion magazine? Never.

Until today.

In my twenties, and into my mid thirties, it was easy for me to silently judge those who were struggling with their weight. I had the metabolism of a marathon runner. I could pretty much eat anything and not gain weight. If I thought about losing a few pounds they would seem to miraculously drop off. But then menopause hit. And I got pregnant at age 40. (I know. Odd sequence of events, but completely true.) And my mid-wife warned me that because of my advanced age, maintaining a healthy weight might be a struggle. But I didn’t listen. Now, almost 10 years later, I struggle. And I no longer look at others and think “They have no discipline” or “They must be emotional eaters.”

I am one of them.

In my thirties and well into my forties, I silently gasped when friends told me they tried botox or plastic surgery. Bigger boobs and tummy tucks. Getting rid of frown lines and the dreaded forehead cleavage. Be happy with how God made you, I would think. You earned that tummy with the four beautiful kids you have. You are beautiful just as you are. Easy for me to say. When the nurse at my physical kept shaking her head saying, “I can’t believe you’re going to turn 50 this year. You look like you’re in your thirties.” I admit. It felt pretty good. But now, when I think about the wrinkles, I absentmindedly rub my forehead cleavage with my index finger and it feels cavernous. I feel like I should do something about it.

I am one of them.

South Korea boasts one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the pursuit of beauty in the world. About one in five females go under the knife in order to enhance their appearance. The latest trend is the “smile lipt,” a procedure that turns up the corners of the mouth, creating a perpetual smile, not unlike The Joker, of Batman fame.

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If you Google bad celebrity plastic surgery, pages and pages pop up like this one and this one.  One article after another, exploiting Joan Rivers and Donatella Versace, Mickey Rourke and Michael Jackson.

Plastic surgery, to alter or enhance our appearance, is here to stay. It is a trend that seems to never go out of style. Procedures improve. More people jump on the bandwagon. We are not all blessed with exceptional genetics. And someday, the aging process catches up with all of us. We are bombarded with youthful images. Appearance enhancements continue to become more mainstream. It’s hard not to jump on and ride with everyone else.

But I’m going to try. Harder. I’m going to like what I see in the mirror and feel blessed that I don’t struggle with real issues, like burn scars and birth defects. I am going to enhance what I have with a little bit of make-up and choosing colors that flatter.

It isn’t going to be easy. But I think I’ll feel better in the end.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Lessons Learned

To The Parents Of Small Children: Trust Me. I Speak From Experience.

A friend alerted me (us?) to this article on Huffington Post in her Facebook status with a hearty “Amen!” When you bring an exclamation like “Amen!” into the picture, I am intrigued.

So, I read the article. It’s about something I am very familiar with. Infertility. And then pregnancy. And then getting what you want, only to turn around and say, why did I ask for this?

The chaos. The sleep-deprivation. The frustrations.

I know this, having two boys only 10 months apart in age, all too well.

I remember just weeks from my due date and my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to crawl. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely see my toes. How am I going to chase a crawling gremlin?!?”

And then, just as our youngest was learning to crawl, my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to walk. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely keep up with one little gremlin. Now you…”

But I stopped, mid-rant. What was the point?

Yes, it was tough. Yes, I snapped on more than one occasion. And when people said, “Enjoy these moments now. They grow up so fast!” I knew exactly what they were talking about.

My children are 10 years and then 10 months apart in age. I benefited from the experience of having been-there-done-that with my oldest.

With my daughter, when people would tell me to “enjoy her now” and that “they grow up so fast,” my eyes would glaze over and I would nod politely. I never quite felt the same anger towards those well-meaning people as the author of the Huffington Post article does, but I certainly agreed with him (at that time in my life) that their comments weren’t helpful. His annoyance is much stronger than mine was. He threatens to “break up with you” if you say it to him. He begs all well-meaning people out there to avoid that advice.

Well, with my “wealth” of experience, I’m about to rock his world.

I say?

Say it! Shout it! Climb onto the roof-tops and shout to every stressed out parent out there:

“Enjoy every precious and not so precious moment! They grow up so very, very fast!”

As annoying it may be to hear it the second time around, it made me pause. It reminded me to stop, take a breath and breathe in their sweet, grubby goodness. When my boys were 2 and just turned 3, my daughter was 13. Not needing me. Only around the house between school and gymnastics practice. Hugs were less frequent. And a tuck-in and a kiss goodnight was met with, “Mom?!? I’m not a baby anymore!”

My daughter, 10 years older than the next child, is a constant reminder of how fleeting those baby-toddler-childhood years truly are. Now in college, needing me so much less and at a university 4 hours away, I am missing her so much more. The grimy fingers. The skinned knees. The silly songs. The talks in the car. The butterfly kisses. Even the whining.

Oh sure, there were times when I’d hide in my closet, tears welling up because I thought I was going to lose it. I gave myself time-outs when I’d catch myself at the end of my rope. Parenting is not for the tender-hearted, and yet, it is.

Parenting is tough. Parenting can make you say and do things that you wish you hadn’t. But you pick yourself up, you learn from your failures (and we all have them) and you move on.

Much too quickly.

Because before you know it, they’re grown. They’re independent. They’ve taken all the skills you armed them with.

And they’re gone.

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Filed under children, Lessons Learned

Hey, World! We’re Doing Something Right!

From the mouth of my oh-so-innocent, sweet little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy:

“My mom says that I can be anything I want to be when I grow up. So, I’m going to be an African-American!”

black-and-white-baby-together

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Filed under From The Mouths Of Babes, funny, Lessons Learned

Black Friday. Worth Every Penny. And Then Some.

I’ve never liked to shop. Ever.

Still don’t. So when my 17 yr. old daughter asked if we could shop on Black Friday I laughed. Out loud. When she told me she was serious, I eyed her suspiciously.

“Only if we go at 5am,” I said, confident that she would back down immediately. You see, I’m a morning person. She’s a night person. A very late night person. She sleeps ’till noon every chance she gets. I knew I was safe.

“Ok!” she said enthusiastically.

Huh? What the…? How did that happen? I then tried to weasel out of it.

“Seriously? You’ll get up at 4:30? I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t think the stores you’ll want to shop even open up that early.”

Remember? I don’t like to shop. So in my forty-something years I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. I’ve avoided it like the plague. I thought only large discount stores and appliance stores were open at that un-godly hour the day after Thanksgiving.

“No, I already checked,” she said, “The mall opens at 5am.”

Rats. I was stymied. I had no idea where to go from there to get out of it.

“Ok…….” I said, voice trailing. I still had 5 more days to figure out how to get out of it. Surely, something would come to me.

But Thanksgiving Day arrived and I still didn’t have a way out. And she was so excited. Sharing this story with my sister on the phone she chastised my lack of enthusiasm.

“You set that alarm for 4:30am and enjoy yourselves. You’re creating memories,” she said, “Just don’t forget your helmet and elbow pads.”

Yikes. That got me. Especially since my stomach sinks every time my daughter receives a letter from a college trying to recruit her. I’m trying to cherish every moment she wants to spend with me. What was my problem?

So on Friday morning, we woke up before the crack of dawn and set out. We drove past our local Wal-Mart at 5:15am. Every, and I mean EVERY parking spot was taken. People were parking on the grass, off the curb. I’ve never seen it so busy. What was I getting myself into?

We arrived at the mall by 5:30am. It was busy but not unbearable. We shopped. We laughed. We waited in lines. I had to go check out the deals at the Disney Store (of course) and she reluctantly tagged along. 

The line was about 10 people deep and she rolled her eyes. “This is just like waiting in line for the rides, ” she groaned. But when we went to Hollister (her favorite store) the line for the cash register winded, weaved and wove through the store. “This must be SOME roller coaster!” I said excitedly. She pretended not to know me.

We chatted on the way to other stores. We chatted over coffee. We chatted in lines. We chatted in the car on the way to lunch. We observed people and talked about that. She shared with me things that were going on with school and with her friends. We reminisced. Mostly light things but some heavy things came up, too. And when the heavy things surfaced it slipped into our conversation easy, calm. I was able to share things I’ve always wanted to say – things every parent should say. She shared her feelings with a little awkwardness. (She is a teenager, after all.)

It was an amazing day.

I remember hearing Dr. Phil impart his wisdom on teenagers once. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you want your kids to talk to you about the big things then you’d better listen to the little things. In theory, I wholeheartedly agreed. But that day, I was able to see it in motion.

I’ve always felt I was a pretty involved parent. But days like this remind me I can always do more. Listening to those little things – how many sisters we could tell were shopping together, who her friends were dating, the latest fashion must-haves, how awful school lunches were – turned into conversations and snippets of some really big things. (And since I’d like to preserve some of her privacy I’m just going to let you guess what those were.) I heard her thoughts. She heard mine. It was amazing conversation with a little shopping thrown in. We enjoyed ourselves so much we’ve decided to make it a yearly tradition.

I saved a good bit of money on Black Friday. I lost a little sleep. Looking back, it was a simple gesture that became grand. And I can’t believe I tried to get out of it. What a shame that would have been.

(This is a repeat post from my first year of blogging. But it’s a lesson I have cherished. As I’m about to approach our 4th Black Friday Extravaganza, I thought I’d send a shout out to all of you to get out there and start making memories with your daughters. And sons. In ways that are meaningful for you. For us, it involves shopping. Yes. I have been reformed.)

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Filed under Holiday, Lessons Learned, Motherhood

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby! Or How The Cleavers Could Take A Lesson From Us

There are some sitcoms that are timeless. My kids love to watch The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show and Leave It To Beaver.  Lessons from these shows often translate into something we can talk about, something that reinforces values we are trying to teach them.

And sometimes, an episode is merely a sign of the times and a chance for us to see how far we’ve come.

 

We were watching a Leave It To Beaver episode recently regarding the topic of smoking.

First June Cleaver says, “But Wally promised not to start smoking until he was old enough!”

(Old enough? What?)

And then my 9-year-old son turns to me and asks, “What’s an ashtray?”

You know what?

In the last 50 years, I think our generation has finally gotten something right.

 

 

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Filed under Lessons Learned, television

What Will You Do To Spread Some Magic Today?

I saw this story awhile ago.

It warmed my heart then.

It warms my heart now.

Freddie Wieczorek works part-time at Walt Disney World, checking the bags of the guests who flock to Magic Kingdom. Encouraged to spread the magic, as all Disney employees are encouraged to do, he bought an autograph book and began asking the children who came through the gates dressed in costume for their autograph.

In his 4+ years at Disney he’s collected over 1,400 signatures (sometimes scribbles, depending on the age.) To see their faces light up when they’ve been “mistaken for the real thing” brings him such joy. And he is spreading joy to the child, the parents and those who witness the scene.

It’s no secret I love Walt Disney and the empire he began. I love the magic. I love the joy. I love the many, many employees like Mr. Wieczorek who embrace the Disney philosophy and take it that extra step.

Seeing this photo again reminded me that I don’t have to wait to go to Disney World to experience the magic. I can make my own right here, right now.

What will you do to spread some magic today?

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Filed under How We Roll, Lessons Learned

Another One Of Those “Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” Ideas

You all know about my Pinterest obsession. I love the sharing, the great ideas. The things I pin make me feel all Martha Stewart-y, without the legal drama and notoriety, of course. And most of my pins, okay almost all of my pins, just sit there. Pinned. Looking pretty. Never to be tackled or tried. Just filling up my boards. Making me look all productive. And crafty. And smart.

Just want you all to know.

The intention is there.

The pins that baffle me are the ones using chalkboard paint as a decorative highlight in your home.

Remember these?

Forget the math. (I have.) If you were a teacher way back when, your hands and clothes would be covered in chalk dust at the end of the day.

If you were a student and had to go up to the board  to show off your math skills or bang a couple of these:

…you were also covered in chalk dust.

So why do the pins keep popping up using chalkboard paint in your home? Does anyone actually think this…

or this…

…is truly a great idea? That your home and bed sheets will always look this pristine after using chalk inside your home?  Near your head where you sleep? Or inside your pantry for your shopping list, dusting your cereal and crackers and canned goods in a fine mist? Or an entire wall in your child’s bedroom? Can you imagine what the baseboard is going to look like after a month?

I can.

And it isn’t pretty.

Maybe I’m a little too OCD for my own good, but chalkboard paint, inside a home, is a bad idea.

It’s the kind of idea that sounds good. At the time.

But trust me.

It is much better suited as a pretty, little picture on your Pinterest board.

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Filed under I'm Baffled (And Because I Love The Word Baffled), Lessons Learned