Brave Girls Unite

My beautifully brave sister in law posted a note to my wonderful mother in law today on Facebook. I read it. I gasped. I loved it immediately.

This is what I need. This is what all women need. How could I have not known about this earlier?

It’s a site called http://bravegirlsclub.com/. The letter I read was from their Daily Truths emails which seem to always start with “A little bird told me . . . ” and then goes on to give you a daily boost.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

I flipped through some of their Daily Truths and this one stuck with me. This is for my girls down in a hole of despair and pain. Baby, it will get better.

I’ll recreate the whole note here and link to it as well so you can see the pretty graphics:

 

Dear Extraordinary Girl,

The path to the best places for us sometimes must take a trip through the muck to get to the other side of it. Sometimes that truly is the only way.

When we are in the middle of it, it feels senseless and like such a complete waste of time (let alone not very comfortable)When we are in painful places in life, or even just annoyingly uncomfortable places, it’s important to remember that we are headed somewhere else if we want to be.

We do not have to stay stuck there. Sometimes it takes a while to work our way out of it, and sometimes we don’t know how we got there in the first place, but mucky yucky places on the path of life are always temporary if we are willing to work our way out of them.

We are not meant to stay stuck. We are not meant to be stagnant. We are not meant to be in pain for any longer than it is necessary to teach us. We are meant to shine, to fly and to have joy. Even when we are in a place where it’s nearly impossible to do this, there is always a way out of that mucky place. It is always temporary.

Please believe this, beautiful friend.

If you are in a mucky spot, just keep going, keep going ’til you get to the other side of it. It will be SO worth it.

Don’t you dare give up now.

You are so loved.

xoxo

Here’s the link: http://www.bravegirlsclub.com/dailytruths/oct1111.htm.

You tell me what woman doesn’t need a daily affirmation like this and I’ll then prove that woman is really a man. And sometimes men need them too.

YOU ARE SO LOVED. Every one of you.

Stef

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A Monday Affirmation

On this Monday let’s pause and take a deep breath. Now think about some good stuff – something that makes you happy happy. 
Here’s a couple for me: 
The sun’s shiny golden loveliness makes everything else beautiful and small at the same time:
The fleeting beauty of a lily – so fragile and temporary.
Some of the most beautiful things in life are ephemeral. I think the trick is to savor every single one of the sweet moments you have. Just jump in and bask in the GOOD. Revel in it.

Don’t waste what precious time you have in anger, doubt or distrust. No good can come of it. 

Spring Project Cleaning

It’s supposed to be 70 this weekend and that means Spring. 
Birds chirping, tulips coming up, trees budding and grass growing. It also means we can send the kids outside. A LOT. Good stuff.
It also means allergies. Bad stuff.
Good & bad? Spring Cleaning.

I hate cleaning. Really. HATE. But it’s time. And I LOVE when it’s done.

I have two modes of cleaning:
1. Blitz cleaning. This is the cleaning you do really quickly to make it all look presentable when you are having company. My husband and I can do this for about an hour before company and everything looks spic & span – just don’t look at the tops of the bookshelves, or under the sofa. 
When our boys catch us cleaning they say, “who’s coming over?” I then point out to them that SOMETIMES we clean things for other purposes – like if something is so disgustingly filthy I can’t stand the sight of it anymore. (This excludes the normal, day-to-day (that I also hate) like doing dishes, laundry, wiping counters, etc).
2. Project cleaning. PITA Spring Cleaning. This is when you take on a big project that requires cleaning out certain areas of the house in order to complete the project. I do this because it FORCES me to deep clean and it provides a new, fresh look to the room. Often this involves moving furniture, taking down decor, cleaning it and putting it back up, cleaning windows, window coverings, etc. 
(Side note: I used to move the living room furniture every few months whenever I got a wild hair and needed a change. Then we got a gigantic freaking sectional and that was that. The hubby is quite pleased about it as he is change-avoidant).
I just bought the cutest butterfly thingies I want to put up on the walls in my home office. But first I need to clean a corner of that room so I can get to the wall I want to put the butterflies on – which is buried behind a sofa covered with blankets, jackets, and even some Christmas wrap. (Yep, Christmas wrap I got AFTER I put Christmas away so it needs to find a home until next year because I’m not going up to the attic again).
See? Butterflies. They will look nice on my green office wall.
Or, another example, I hate dusting my bedroom, especially the areas I don’t easily hit like the ceiling fans or the tops of the curtains or the blinds that have been mostly closed all winter. This bedroom re-do project I’m currently working on will now force me to clean every.stinkin’.corner. of that room. It will feel so fresh and new when it’s done. I cannot wait. Plus, hello, PAINT. What better way to deep clean?
Now that Spring Cleaning (capitalized because it is a formal thing, no?) is starting to happen I will be undertaking many small projects. Sunlight is coming into our rooms from different angles now and I can totally see where I need to take some shades down and give them a thorough cleaning and I can see the cobwebs gathering in the dark, vaulted corners of the room. 
Incidentally, I wish I had a good method for cleaning those tall corners other than me, a rickety ladder & a broom. One of these days I AM going to fall on my ass and it’s going to hurt. You all will have a good laugh when I tell you about it. 

So – as your weather warms up just turn the music on, open the windows, and get to work. Put the kids to work too. Bribe ’em if you have to.

Happy cleaning, peeps. It will be SO worth it.

The best you that you can be

Every day when I drop my oldest at school I tell him, “Remember, be the best Poohbear you can be today, ok?”

To his credit he doesn’t sigh or roll his eyes (maybe 8 (almost 9) is too young for that), but he says, “Okay Mom! Love you!” and bounds out of the car with nary another thought for me or the message I’m trying to impart.

As I drive away, I often think about all the good things I want for him (to be honest, I often think of Starbucks and how conveniently located it is to his school as well).

What does that mean – be the best you that you can be? Let’s think about that for a minute.

Does it mean to be kind, understanding and attentive to others? Yes, obviously.

Does it mean to listen and learn and be present (in all senses of the word) to what happens during the course of the day? Yes, absolutely.

That’s what I want for him – my clever, cute, quirky son.

If I turn that around and put the focus on myself – what does that mean for me? My expectations for myself extend far beyond the expectations I have for my son.

Am I being the best Stef – mom, wife, woman – that I can be? The answer is a resounding NO.

These are the steps I think I need to take to get there. Bear in mind this list may be revised. Often.

  1. Health. I need to work on my health. I don’t know if I am brave enough to go into more detail than that, here – yet – but I need the strength, the confidence, the determination, support and encouragement to do it. Please. I’m starting already – baby steps.
  2. Outlook. Positivity. Glass half full-ness. Looking on the bright side. Finding the silver lining. Because, when it comes down to it, does bitching about something help? At all? The negativity weighs me down and I’m not having it anymore. Dunzo.
  3. Self-awareness and positive personal growth. Focusing on the me-ness. Really knowing who I am – what makes me tick, sets me off, calms me down, etc. What I excel at and what I suck at. Then embracing the me-ness and the stuff I love about me. This blog is going a long way towards that goal.
  4. Love. Give it all, to everyone, in abundant boundless bundles. To my family, to my friends, to strangers. I don’t know anything, any situation, any problem – ANYTHING – that isn’t improved with a little love and a big, open heart.

So that’s it. For now. That’s my challenge to myself.

Tomorrow, when you check your face in the mirror – at home, driving to work, or in a passing car window reflection – just pause for a second and ask yourself, “Am I being the best me that I can be?” I hope the answer is yes; if not, make your own list and get on with it, sister!

Great Expectations

Okay, I’m going to attempt to put together a cohesive narrative from some of the thoughts that have been floating willy-nilly in my head since reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. I finished the book a few days ago and, as promised, I have started going back, re-reading, and highlighting those passages that particularly resonate with me.
That Elizabeth Gilbert chick knows what she’s doing. Out of the gate the first concept she writes about is something that likely resonates with all married women – did I make the right decision? And not just about marriage, but about everything. Do my expectations of love & marriage and my current reality gel with what I thought they would be? Once upon a time each one of us made a decision that altered our life path. In order to make a decision of that momentousness we also generally produce a set of expectations – the future effects of that decision.
But first there’s the decision. We are so overwhelmed with choices now that, as she writes, “many of us simply go limp from indecision.” I have certainly felt that way. Too many options. When I’m asking my hubby what he wants for dinner, or what kind of something he wants and I say you can have this, or this, or this, or this, or this – he interrupts with, “Too many options. Narrow it down for me.” Because confronted with so many options how can we possibly know which one of them will add to our lives – make us healthier, wealthier and wiser? 
Once we do make a decision do we then run the risk of becoming “compulsive comparers?” As Liz says (because she and I are so tight now I call her Liz) compulsive comparers are “always measuring [their] lives against some other person’s life, secretly wondering if [they] should have taken [their] path instead.”

LIFE ENVY.

I’m guilty of it, as you read here. My blogging inspiration, and the object of my “life envy,” Joni, wrote that she was guilty of it as well here when she looks at the Pioneer Woman. If you are a woman who has never experienced life envy then I want to meet you because you’ll be the first (that I know of).

I’m going to re-create the following passage word for word because I think it’s huge:

All these choices and all this longing can create a weird kind of haunting in our lives – as though the ghosts of all our other, unchosen, possibilities linger forever in a shadow world around us, continuously asking, “Are you certain this is what you really wanted?”

Oh boy. That’s it. How do we look at our lives today and be content?
I’m 35. I’m married to a man who isn’t perfect but I love him anyway. I have a job that is far from perfect, and especially aggravating of late, but it’s my means for supporting my family. I have two children who are also imperfect – but they are MINE, and a part of me, and that’s the important part. I stand here today with this imperfect life and I could so easily wallow in despair for other choices I could have made – but there are no guarantees in life, you know? I could own a house on the hill, wear expensive jewelry, drive a sports car, etc, and still be absolutely miserable. You get out of life what you put into it. 
Let me say that again: YOU GET OUT OF LIFE WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT.
If you are discontented and unhappy then you are likely going to get discontent and unhappiness in return. But if you take all your expectations and filter them through your present reality then you just might find you have exactly what you didn’t know you wanted. 
I have a happy, loving home. I have a husband who strives to be the best he can be, who loves me, and who makes me laugh. I have two gorgeous and talented children who melt my heart every night when they choose to share my spot on the sofa with me rather than sit – anywhere – else (and we have a large sofa). 
It’s all about perception – not perfection. All the other stuff – the bills, the grocery shopping, the late homework – that’s just the minor aggravations that life gives us to keep us humble. 
Now, I’m going to close this missive so I can go enjoy a perfect evening with my imperfect family. 

Blessings!