Category Archives: Happiness

Why Is Being Tired the Start of Craziness?

Whenever I get tired I start to lose my ability to function. I know this sounds obvious. Human beings need rest. We all do. But I have always been astounded at my husband’s ability to function, even when he is really tired. So I know there are humans out there who can handle exhaustion with considerably more grace than I can.

I was built differently somehow. I become beastly-monster-woman. Rationality escapes me. Short, punctuated puffs of air escape my nostrils, and no one thinks I resemble Daenerys Targaryen; they think I’m one of the dragons. And they’re probably right.

My red eyes, my menacing snarl, my desire to eat anyone who pisses me off…..I get it.

But the funny thing to me is that I entirely lose my ability to keep myself together, too. I’m not just in a bad mood: all kinds of weird and crazy things start to happen, one right after the other, none of which happened in the weeks before. Ridiculous events unfold in a matter of hours, swooping me up into what feels like a cloud of complete chaos.

Over the course of a few days, here are the ridiculous things that happened. And I PROMISE I will get some rest. And Dragon Mommy will disappear shortly.

1.) The soccer ball went into the toilet bowl. And then into the mouth of a babe. Wow #Ineedquickerreactiontime
2.) LM2 cracked my second pair of eye glasses in a month
3.)  LM2 colored on the sofa with crayons (that was a first for us)
4.) My kid squirted a stranger kid in the face with a water gun and threw a tantrum over being punished for this and having the water gun taken away (which wasn’t even ours! he swiped it from someone else!) — in public– for twenty minutes– and then tried to hug the kids for another five after the fact. Talk about split personality.
5.) I lost my cell phone.
6.) I found my cell phone– but it was outside in the rain, so it went into a bag of rice for 36 hours. Then I got rice stuck in the charge port of my cell phone and could not charge it. I’m thinking a paper clip should do the trick…
7.) I tried to go to bed early last night but was quickly rerouted by LM2’s vomit explosion. We will not feed him certain things in the future as a result of this one #lessonlearned
8.) I got kicked in the face by LM1 because (a) he didn’t want to take a shower and (b) he said the water was too hot, which I tried to explain is a fixable problem, but he didn’t believe me until I could prove it via faucet handle, after he settled down.
9.) I ordered dinner out but forgot to tell my husband where I ordered from. And my cell phone wasn’t working (I called from the laptop). Then I took the kids for a walk (because they were driving me crazy). So he had to drive around looking for us, finally found us, picked up the food, and everything was a little soggy and cold cuz it had been waiting for like 40 minutes after it was all said and done #whoops
10.) I fell at a wedding this past weekend and flashed the guests. With my nakedness. Like, the whole kit and caboodle #I’mtoooldforthis #you’rewelcome

All of this clearly means tomorrow will be an AMAZING day. I mean that seriously. I believe it! #herewego #keepcalmandcarryon

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DIY Bliss = Marital Bliss??? WTF

So, I think all the time about the things that make a marriage work…..and the things that make it not work. It’s a slippery slope sometimes, like any relationship. I used to think that fighting with my spouse, disagreeing, or getting into a bad mental place together was a sign that I had done something wrong. I would keep a running checklist in my mind, just waiting to get enough cons on the page to convince myself I was not marriage material.

This sounds so terrible to me as I write it, but it’s the truth. For many of our early years together, I just kept waiting to drop the shoe (because I was sure it would be ME to do so) all so I could prove once and for all that I was a terrible wife. I absolutely, positively do not attribute this bad attitude to my exposure to divorce, friends, family, media, crappy movies, or otherwise.

I was just a negative person.

I couldn’t measure up to my own ridiculous expectations because I hated all the traditional wifey things: cooking, cleaning, crafting, DIYing, hosting parties, gardening, interior decorating, baking, becoming a SAHM, etc. Mind you, I did all of those things but complained all the while.

SOOOOOOO WHAT HAPPENED???

It’s so lovely!!! Do you love it??? Ugh, I just love it!

What’s changed is my attitude. My frame of mind. My interest in being honest with myself and my spouse all of the time, without excuse. And what was the result? I’ve started to LOVE the things I hated. I LOVE gardening. WTF. I love anything with a pop of color (welcome to my planter, coleus), or an interesting texture (please grow here, astibles), or a fun characteristic (creeping thyme is beautiful AND you can walk on it!). I never expected to find myself in this new state of mind, but it’s working for me, which is working for Hubs.

And that leads me to DIY bliss….

As far as I was concerned, DIYing is super lame, more expensive than claimed to be, unprofessional looking, imperfect, and frustrating. I also thought I was not clever enough to attack projects because I never used to make anything on my own, aside from a Thank You card or maybe a delivery pizza order (ok, I never really did that because of my lactose sensitivity, but you get the picture).

This year I really wanted to find a new headboard for our bedroom. I don’t know why this struck me as important, let alone obsession worthy. But I started Googling and Pinteresting and started to dream about what I might like.

Saved from interiorbarndoors.org

Hubs encouraged me to find exactly what I might like. I think I surprised everyone (mostly myself) when I fell in love with a barn door headboard that wasn’t really even a headboard. It just looked so farmy to me, which is not a bad thing at all, but that has never been very “me.” But this headboard was beautiful. And I wanted to live in a more natural, peaceful, elemental space.

I started shopping and came across some old barn doors I thought we could paint or shellac until I learned they were $500 each. I hadn’t even sold the previous headboard in our bedroom yet, but I didn’t think I’d hit that $500 mark, let alone $1,000. But without blinking, Hubs said, “We can make that. That looks easy.”

Easy is now my favorite word. Let me help you with the definition of easy here, because I needed help learning what “easy” means:

Easy doesn’t mean fast.
It doesn’t mean simple.
It doesn’t mean perfect or even close to perfect.
It doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, either.
It just means do-able.
And now that know what easy means, I love it when we look at something as a couple, give each other that special smile and say, “Yea, that looks easy.”

Our easy-to-craft headboard was finally built out of pallet wood, all of which we hoarded and then broke down ourselves. We bought some fresh wood for the main framing and stained all the wood with a light gray. Well, that’s not entirely true: I thought I ruined it with a stain that was way too dark. So we stripped that, power sanded, and tried again (thank you, Home Depot Paint Man, for your assistance with that one).

We argued about the order in which we worked on the project. We moaned over working too late at night (cuz power tools and my little ones don’t really mix, so we were relegated to working from 8-11 p.m.). We argued about how to cut the wood at specific angles. We griped when we ruined or split certain pieces of wood. We fought about where to store the power tools and how to keep the garage tidy over our weeks and months of projecting.

We also brainstormed together. We laughed. We listened to music and danced while we worked. We teased one another about decisions and watched each other work in awe and interest…seeing new sides of one another. We looked forward to the evenings when the kids were asleep and we could stow away to the garage for a few hours to work on our little project. We built something together. Now we can look every day at something that signifies our ability to act as a team and to create. And ultimately, we had FUN.

It sounds silly, maybe. This little project that turned into something else. But it was great. It was messy and imperfectly perfect (I swear one side is still uneven). It was a little piece of magic we conjured up, and it was bliss.

What are you doing these days that makes your marriage sing? Share, share, share!

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On Loving Yourself

Ok, so, I guess I should just confess it right off the bat….

I don’t know that I l-o-v-e love myself. I like myself. I think I’m pretty decent. I’m a HIP. A Human In Progress. I have flaws and weaknesses, I have some strengths. My strengths are super cool (ie- I make well-timed, appropriately hilarious, well-delivered comments to my husband when NO ONE ELSE is looking or even nearby, my impromptu dance skillz are Uhhh-mazing, etc). My weaknesses suck (I’m not going to list my weaknesses here!!! Silly, silly.)

Oh, I should probably mention that the topic of loving yourself came up recently when I picked up a book called, You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. To be a true badass, I need to LOVE myself. Like, LOVE love. Like, want to spend the rest of my life with myself, and commit to myself forever and ever.

So it got me thinking…Can I say I love myself? I don’t think so. That’s, like, the wrong word. I would say I’m a fan of my work, and I’m curious to see what will develop in my peak years. I would say I’m an admirer of my life attempts.

Truth: uhhhhh…….I don’t think so. That’s, like, the wrong word. I would say I’m a fan of my work, and I’m curious to see what will develop in my peak years (which I assume will be when I’m 40). I would say I’m an admirer of my life attempts.

I guess this is problematic. Because more so than I want to be a badass, I want to teach my kids to love themselves. I want them to know the pure, simple joy of trusting yourself and loving that you are your own best instrument for success. But we can’t teach what we can’t model. I feel pretty confident about that fact.

What’s more is that as I’ve become a mother, there are new, different things I have to learn to love about myself. I used to be a different person before the kids. I was always on time. I was always clean, tidy, neat, showered. Now I’m…..uhhh….what’s that word? FORGETFUL. I think that’s the word I wanted to use.

I’m also moving in more directions. I’m prioritizing differently. I’m monitoring my thinking, my reactions, my attitude, my behavior. Because now I have an audience for everything that I do. So I’m a little guarded, and sometimes, that means a little less confident. While I would like to love myself (should I say I’d love to love myself?) most days I feel like I don’t even know myself. I’m under construction. I’m morphing and changing and growing, and I’m not ready to commit to this new version of myself yet.

Have any other new moms felt this way? That suddenly, you are a different woman, and you’re confused and feeling completely like, “Who am I now???” “Who are my kids going to think I am?” It’s completely likely that I am overthinking this, ahem, example of one of my weaknesses. Ok, there, I said it. I CANNOT be the only one though, right?!?!?

So, if a wisdom fairy were to float into my house, I’m sure she would say something like this:

Stop it. Just stop right now.
You either love yourself or you don’t.
You don’t wait until you become more loveable. Because when the hell is that supposed to happen?
Jump on this gravy train right now, and decide to start loving yourself TODAY.

So I guess if I want to be a badass, I need to suck it up and start the love-fest.
Orrrrrr…maybe I just want to be a badbutt. Or a badbottom. Or a badrump. Maybe those are, like, the baby steps I can work toward.

If Beyonce were around to teach me to power pose correctly, I feel pretty confident that I would NAIL IT.

No. That just won’t work. So, here’s my task:
I will wake up every day and smile at myself. Regardless of what I see in the mirror, I will smile and say, “Go get it, girl.” I will mean it. And on some days, I will play the Star Wars Soundtrack and tell myself that is almost as good as power posing.

Here’s to trying something new. Every day.

#workit

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My Cup Runneth Over

Lately I’ve been having these completely ridiculous moments in the quiet of my home when I look around and feel utterly speechless and overcome with emotion. It’s hard to describe, but here’s me trying to do so anyway:

I’ll be rinsing a dish or putting junk away in a drawer, and I’ll see the kids doing nothing special. Little Man #1 will color or push a truck or make the noises he’s learned motorcycles make. (It sounds like his Popop snoring…) Little Man #2 will spit up or giggle or coo or cry over the latest toy LM#1 has shoved into his face. And a thick red ball of unnameable hot something will crawl up into my throat. My eyes start to water and though I don’t cry, I know I could easily enough if I let myself.  But I don’t. Because I’m scrubbing a dish or putting junk away. I finish what I’m doing, let out a short puff of air, and smile. I feel inextricably like the luckiest person in the world. I am humbled by this stupidly simple but very very very perfect moment. I strangely feel part of something larger than myself, standing in my kitchen, shaking the water and peanut butter remnants from a bowl.

This is insane, in part, because I know I’m not actually the luckiest person. I’m one of many whose hearts swell over the simple blessings in life. I am like every other mom who wonders just how her kid got peanut butter into his eyebrows, but missed the cup I’m rinsing.

But in these strange, overwhelming, emotionally charged moments what is so fascinating to me is this: being a part of something bigger than myself was always supposed to be working for a nonprofit that resuscitated a community or brought clean water to the Congo.  I studied my butt off in school so that I could someday impact humanity in a real way, feeling driven by my need to effect change.

And then I’m in my kitchen. And I want to cry because the boys are beautiful and healthy. No one has a brain tumor, no one is hurting or crying, and no one is throwing applesauce at me. I’m not doing anything seemingly constructive for the good of the planet, or for civilization at large, but somehow, I’m nearly crying over how beautiful life is.

SOOO, I blame my hormones. I tell myself that one day after we’ve finished breastfeeding, I will return to my normal, rationale way of thinking, and something as silly as rinsing a dish will go back to just being what it is: a household chore that makes the house look less messy.

In the meantime, I’ll keep feeling my heart swell. And I’ll keep thinking that being home with them is maybe slightly less lame than I thought it was when I decided to stay home. Even if it means crying– or almost crying– as often as I do now.

#livingthedream #lifeisfunny #aintitgrand

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A Perfect Sunday

One of the trickiest things about juggling two little ones, for me, is managing a schedule. Because the babes nap at different times and eat all day long (Baby #2 is holding strong at every 2-3 hours now that his reflux meds are working) it can be tough to get everyone loaded into a car and find enough time to really enjoy something.

The best way to enjoy a sunny Sunday is to:

(1) have a plan. I need to know where I’m going and what time I need to leave the house. This is excessively annoying sometimes, but without the impetus to get up and get going, we’ll never get anywhere fast enough to ensure time for fun. Does that sound ridiculous? It is, I can assure you. But it works for us.

(2) alter expectations that the entire day will be spent in any one place. This simply cannot be if the kids are going to get naps. A great day is really two half days. And let’s face it, naps are crucial if we want to make it to bedtime without a meltdown. I can handle a meltdown, but I don’t particularly want to. I prefer tuna melts to toddler melts.

(3) pack lunches, snacks, and changes of clothes the night before.

(4) have a second plan in place in case of rain. Because sometimes sunny Sunday becomes shitty Sunday.

ChesLenPRES-11This weekend we really lucked out. The weather was perfect, we woke up after a mostly restful evening, and everyone was ready to roll by 10 a.m. This gave us 3 whole hours before naps and cranky time. The bitty baby naps in the car and falls asleep in his car seat, so we can get him out so long as there is a quiet spot to nurse him at points throughout the morning.

image1 (5) The perfect spot today was The ChesLen Preserve, out in Coatesville, PA. This gorgeous property sits on the Brandywine Creek and provides trails and shade where we could all splash and play, fish, and picnic. There are always lots of dogs playing in the creek, canoes and kayaks rolling by, and bicyclists traveling on the roads above the creek. It’s nature at its finest.

IMG_6776It’s incredible when everything works out just right and everyone feels happy and pleased with themselves. Little Man #1 caught a fish with Daddy’s rod, and searched out a crayfish with his bucket and net.  He threw rocks into the creek and floated on his belly.

image2 (3)Little Man #2 nursed well in the shade and fell asleep going and coming to our spot by the water’s edge. He loved facing outward in his Baby Bjorn Carrier, and watched while Daddy fished with a pole right in front of him.

A beautiful, safe, tranquil spot like this is why I moved to Pennsylvania. I love nature, I love water, and I love family time. It was a perfect day, and it made me smile to think how lucky we were to have it. I’m so thankful. A little planning on the front end goes a long way…

What are you thankful for lately?

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Sub-Par Wins for the Week

For a mom with a new baby, until the babe starts sleeping a bit, everyday feels like a continuous loop of time, stretched over hell, through a murky bog, and up through piles of poopie diapers. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it’s at these times, especially, that I try to find the silver lining and smile over the wins for the week. Here are a few seemingly lackluster wins that managed to make my week laughable, enjoyable, and manageable. Enjoy and share some of your own weekly wins!

1.) Both kids passed out before 1 p.m. It was Wednesday and I got both kids fed, semi-clean, and poopie-diaper-free. One diaper may have had a little pee in there, but Baby #1 was asleep already and I had to move on…

2.) The little purple buds on my iris plant popped! I’ve been waiting, unsure if the part of the yard where I planted would work out and BOOM! Flower power. Gorgeous purple has entered the yard. Andddddd….. I sprayed some non-toxic yucko crap that smells like piss everywhere so the deer won’t eat it. Fingers crossed, legs uncrossed (get the joke, ‘cuz it smells like I peed in the yard….)

3.) I found the bananas. My older son approached me with sticky hands on Tuesday and I had NO IDEA what he’d gotten into. The consistency of goo was indeterminable from touch or smell, and I did NOT want to taste it. Then he said it. “Banana.” I searched the floor, behind the couch, under the table, found the smoosh-fest and got it clean before ants found it. #WINNING #wherewerethebananasbeforehegottothem? #canheclimbmycabinets #Ineedtohidethefruitbetter

4.) My son was quiet. Plenty of you folks know I’ve had a hard time feeding Little Man #2. Even though the medication is really helping, he is nearly in month 4 of life and is SUPER distractable. I needed to nurse him and Little Man #1 was up my butt, trying to show me his super awesome, very vibrantly noisy and light-flashing motorcycle (thanks, Grandparents….). I knew that if LM1 pushed any of the noise-triggering buttons on the motorcycle, it would end our nursing session. It could take some time before LM2 wanted to settle in to nurse again. So I kept whispering….”Shhhh, your brother needs to eat! It’s quiet time now. Let’s sit nicely.” And son-of-a-gun, he listened. We got through nursing and everyone was happy. Lesson learned: I need to figure out an organized activity for LM1 during nursing time. It probably shouldn’t be anything messy and it probably shouldn’t be time with the iPad because that makes me sound like a crappy mother.

If only mine looked this good....

If only mine looked this good….

5.) It rained. When the weather is gorgeous, and I get caught up inside with laundry and general baby shenanigans, I feel SO guilty about missing the sunshine. So, when it rained this week, I didn’t mind. I caught up on a few things, read books to the kids, managed to make banana bread, and felt just fine about missing a jog with the stroller. So, I guess sometimes when it rains, you get banana bread…

Question: Did I use the smooshed bananas my son made his mess with for the banana bread?

Answer: LOOK! I added chocolate chips and apple sauce to the recipe! How snazzy……

What were your weekly wins?

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On Being Supportive

I have often felt like everyone thinks they know what it means to be a supportive friend, mother, father, daughter, spouse, etc. But, the more experience I’ve had with being supportive, the more I’ve come to see how difficult it is. Truly being supportive in a compassionate, respectful, and helpful way involves a lot more self awareness and control than I think I’ve ever acknowledged. Here are some recent realizations I’ve made. As always, if you have extra thoughts or tips, don’t hesitate to offer them up!

1.) Keep opinions to myself. Lots of people assume that if someone is coming to you for support and help, they want to know what you know. But what you know is only based on your own perceptions and experiences. More often than not, being supportive means being there, listening, and placing no judgment on what’s being shared. This is hard, but for the most part, I’m pretty sure my job is to listen!

2.) It’s not about me! Sometimes I find that once I’m engaged in conversation there is something I want or need to talk about, too. I must refrain from this! There will come a time and a place to make it about me. A lot of times, when a friend comes looking for support, it is a real turn off to hear for him/her to hear all about ME. Even if talking with the person who most often offers you love and support, I have to make sure the timing of unleashing my own issues is appropriate. It’s usually my your turn to shut the f*$% up. #igotaclue

3.) Be patient. Being supportive does not mean fixing the problem right then and there. It may mean discussing and considering the problem over and over again. Even if I’ve made up my mind about the best way to tackle an issue, this does not mean the person coming to me for help has made up his/her mind. We resolve things in our minds at different times, at different paces, with different solutions.  I need to be patient and understanding. We’re not all the same, and this is a good thing!

4.) It’s not my way or the high way. I’ve heard asked this question more than a few times: “If you didn’t want to listen to me, then why did you ask!?” Lots of times, I’ve received excellent advise and support that led me to make good decisions for myself, even if it wasn’t the exact advise given. Sometimes talking and sharing gets me to the next step, even if it is not in line with what my supportive friend recommended in the first place. Who cares? So long as a person moves through a problem and comes to a solution, I need to consider my mission as a supportive confidant accomplished. #Getovermyself. It’s my job to let people live their own lives.

5.) Being supportive doesn’t make me a “yes man.” It’s not my job to agree with everything the other person is saying. It’s my job to ask questions. Help a person come to conclusions. I think I can be supportive without only agreeing with what the other person has to say. There are delicate ways to say things, without being too one-sided.

Good luck being supportive and share your thoughts!

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Toddler’s First Snow!

The little man is walking, running, jumping, toddling, etc, which means he could enjoy the snow for the first time this winter! (Last winter he cried in a snowsuit that allowed little movement, since it was too puffy and he wasn’t yet walking!) We got about 2 feet here in PA, all perfect, soft, white, fluffy snow– which is super duper for sledding.

image3 (1)

Boy meets sled…

I made the mistake of bringing Little Man to the window and pointing out Dad with the snowblower a little too early. Before Dad had finished the job, I scared L.M. into insisting that we leave the house immediately to save Daddy. This is to say that instead of laughing or being delighted to see his father out in the snow, Little Man immediately burst into a rage of tears, shouting “Outside! Outside!” Instead of taking my time with coffee and breakfast, I dashed to complete a quick gathering of the zillion and one winter-time gear we’d purchased for L.M., all in the hopes that we would have some kind of snow to use it in. Here’s what he made it outside in:

  • a vest
  • an L.L. Bean snowsuit
  • a hat
  • the snowsuit hood pulled up over the hat
  • mittens
  • a woolen scarf (Dad’s!)
  • snow booties– a little big, but on sale at Target
  • two pairs of socks, one of which was some kind of fleecy wool jam that Nana found at the store two weeks ago

After noting that the gloves purchased were not quite warm enough (because L.M. held them up in the air at me and stared, as if to say, “Are you kidding me, B?”) I threw a pair of my fleecy super wool socks over the mittens and created sorts of multi-layered sleeping bags for his hands. I think this did the trick.

When I opened the garage door for L.M. to see the great outdoors and emerge into the snow, he heard Daddy’s snowblower and my shouting for Dad’s attention, and immediately burst into tears. He cried until Dad turned off the blower and approached, though L.M. was still cautious. I don’t know that he recognized his father under hat, hood, and ski goggles.

snow1

Daddy helps them gain speed! L.M. is not even holding on!

The crying settled when curiosity struck.

Since we live on a quiet lane and no one was out just yet, the hubs and I managed to construct a perfect little chute for a toboggan in the street.

“Should we luge or skeleton?” Hubs wanted to know.

“Meatballs don’t fly,” I advised. “You’re sledding with the boy, and I think you should be sitting straight up.”

Thankfully, Hubs is a listener. Unfortunately, my son is not. L.M. wanted to luge, skeleton, stand up, surf, you name it. The boy tried everything he could on the sled and giggled his little face off as a result of his own inventiveness. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that others had, in fact, devised the concepts of tummy-first or on-your-back sledding. Life is tough. This we know.

snow 2

The end of the day…we could tell he’d had enough.

All in all, a great day for the man. He enjoyed the weather, the rush of winter-time sports, and kept us outside for over an hour and forty minutes. The only advisory info I learned for myself is that snow blowers may be scary, and sledding while standing will likely be something to look out for in years to come. I, perhaps, have a snow boarder on my hands…

How was YOUR first snow???

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ISIS Needs Adele

AdeleSo, the thinking on my post today is offered somewhat in jest…but it’s something to think about anyway. The hubs and I watched the taped version of Adele’s performance in NYC this week. Thank YOU, NBC! We love Adele and we got to enjoy a full hour’s worth (well, minus the commercial time in between…) of Adele’s beautiful notes. She is incredible. She is gifted. She is joyful and remarkably down-to-earth when she talks to the audience. I LOVE ADELE.

Listening to her gave me the warm and fuzzies. I was so proud of her! And happy for her! And astounded by her! Listening left me speechless at some moments and in total awe at other moments. She is a reminder that we all have gifts, and when we find our gifts, incredible things can happen!

This got me thinking that sometimes it is truly the arts that open our hearts. I joked with Hubs and told him we should send members of ISIS copies of 25 and see if it opened their hearts up. Who knows. Maybe someone at ISIS just needs to hear, “Hello. It’s me…..”

Some joking aside, there are extraordinary artistic contributions that helped to change society for the better. Music can be transformative, but all the arts can be so as well. Here are a few examples:

1.) “We Are The World” (1985) is a charity and single that raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US. Admit it– you remember this song, and you couldn’t stop singing it, and somehow it made a difference.

2.) Blood Diamond (2006) is a film that drew attention to the civil war in Sierra Lione also managed to decrease the overall selling and distribution of blood diamonds, taking it from 4-15% down to 1%.

3.) I Am Malala (2013) is a book that brought a personal narrative to the Pakistani Civil War and rise of the Taliban. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala’s words have helped to promote efforts to educate young women and campaign for peace.

4.) The Feminine Mystique (1963) is Betty Friedan’s book that names the unnamed itch women were feeling throughout the 50s and 60s. She is credited by many with sparking the second wave of feminism.

5.) The artwork of Diego Rivera (1886-1957) made political statements and showed the world that a 20th century artist doesn’t only have a vision, but an opinion, a voice, and a political effect. He is sometimes credited with being one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. I may not be into communism, but I can respect a man whose work informs and transforms.

6.) The Color Purple (1982) is a novel by Alice Walker, turned film, turned musical that earned Walker a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, making her the first female black writer to accomplish such a feat. The story promotes self love, explores self awareness, challenges what were cultural norms of the time, and challenges readers to recognize what dignity really looks like.

What has changed your world?

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On Being a Team Player

peace

I have been thinking about growth, development, and change recently, thanks to an interesting meditation experience I’m doing through the Chopra Center for Meditation. I’m listening to 21 days of meditative guidance that seems simple enough, given that there’s plinky-plunky music to help me relax, and Deepak Chopra’s voice– which I’m pretty sure is like listening to the Buddha bell tones, which is therapeutic for many reasons. .

I started the course because I thought a god way to relax while the baby is napping would be to try this out. As we get closer to our due date with baby #2, it’s been harder for me to stop my mind long enough to take a nap myself. Sooooo— Deepak it is, for 15 minutes a day. It’s like the Diet Coke of meditation, without the aspartame.

The particular course I’m taking asks us to consider our beliefs and how these shape who we are. To be honest, I had to dig deep to figure out some of the things in which I believe. The basics felt universal to me: (1) I believe in love (2) I believe family is the most important thing (3) I believe people are fundamentally good.

But after listing these beliefs, I felt a little let down. These beliefs didn’t seem to make me the individual the meditations are telling me I am. How these thoughts make me different from most other people, I couldn’t understand. The point of all this is to learn to know myself, and I seemed to be coming up a little short. So I dug deeper and considered recent experiences that might give me some insight into myself. That’s when I realized it: I don’t believe in being a true team player.

Let me explain….

In the very least least, if I needed to consider myself as a team player, I’d have to say I’m a poor one. I hated group projects in school because I always felt like I was going to do more work than my peers, then they would rob me of my grade. If I didn’t give my all, my grade would suffer. I liked the idea of only having to be accountable for my own work and earning what I felt I earned. As a result of this sort of thinking, in my teaching life, I don’t even ask my students to work in groups all of the time. I know that some students will hate group work and I don’t want to force them into it.

So, I had a belief, and now I needed to learn what it tells me about myself. Then, I need to consider how and why making a change could lead to my own growth.

Super. Thanks, Deepak. Not sure what this is going to accomplish….but I gave it a whirl.

teamworkNot being a good team player is SUPER LAME! How I’ve gotten by for so many years without learning the value of collaboration is stifling! What’s more is that the most important team I am a member of is my marriage. WHOA. STOP IT. WHAT?! Yes. It’s a team! And I realized that if I have been carrying around this knowledge that I am a terrible team player and that I have done nothing to change it, I may be setting myself up for disaster in other areas of my life!team for two

This led me to think about my marriage. Do I include Hubs in everything? Do I consider his point of view seriously and wholly? Do I involve him enough in the planning processes so that he is a leader in our decision making, too?

These are tough questions I’m still answering. I love driving the boat. I love being at the helm. I love taking charge and taking pride in what I’ve accomplished at the end. But maybe I will feel wonderful if I take a more collaborative approach, too. Changing who I am and how I behave is not easy— but change is growth and I want to keep growing.

What are YOUR beliefs? Do any of them surprise you?

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