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FOR SHAME!

24 Aug

So friends.

I am ashamed.

I invited to you to yet another public chastisement of myself for myself, staring MYSELF.  The intention of becoming a better, truer person begins with telling your truth.  So, let’s get started.

Here’s what I am ashamed about:

Playing God.

 

Yep.  I’m dumb.  Cause no one plays God better than God right?  All those verses about trusting that God has a plan.  It’s true.  For my skeptics, here is my testimony.

For the past 2 1/2 years, I have tried to start something.  Anything.

ANY.THING, people ANYTHING!

Leadership, ideas, problem solving, those are my gifts and I just naturally assumed that I should be starting something.  I should look around, find something worthwhile and start it.  Lead it.  Solve the problem. Bestow my “amazing” gifts on this world that is so desperate to have my ideas jammed down its throat.  Lucky you – you get me.

Example 1:

We need a MOPS group in my neck of the woods. I’d bet on it.  I KNOW we need a MOPS and God certainly knows we need a MOPS.  I need to do this.  Thank you God for giving me the power to think of this “solution” to this “problem” that I just made up.  Done.  I can start that.  It IS going to work cause, duh, God wants it.

Here’s the outcome:

MOPS group in my neighborhood?  Hello?  Are you there? Helloooooo?

Nope.  Crashed and burned. Everything went wrong.  EVERYTHING.  In fact, I am trying to think of just ONE thing that went right and I can’t think of one.  Not one.  And folks – I TRIED. And since I tried, it must be everyone else, or bad timing or poor leadership or drama from the “haters”, etc. Must be.  So, I take my licks and think:  Well, why didn’t it get off the ground?

So I start off to solve that problem, and BAM!  My highly enlightened self finds a solution: ME.  I will just remove the need for any outside help and I will be success.  I mean, the program will be a success.

Example 2: Started a Meet-up for the ENTIRE family, for the community. Brilliant right?  Here’s the outcome:

Meet-up are you there?  Meet-up……..? HELLOOOOOO?

Nope.  I can’t even say that it crashed because it NEVER FLEW!!!  The only person to show up was my one true friend, and she doesn’t count because that’s what one true friends do, save you from total embarrassment.  Not even my crew showed up, my other friends don’t come.  NOT ONE.  If that doesn’t say you suck, nothing does.

And so, I take a break from starting anything.  This must be a sign, it’s just not the right time.

Example 3: Except, school.  Yep, that’s right – back to school I go!  Gotta finish that degree.  Gotta be a good example. Gotta take this amazing brain I was given and put it to good use.  RIGHT?

Grades: A-, B+, B-, C+

HA! Not great.  I mean, not failing but definitely NOT GOOD. I plug along because I unlike my other endeavors, I haven’t COMPLETELY failed, so I just keep pushing forward.

And then, something happens.  I start a business.  This wasn’t my idea, although, it has been in my brain, whispering in my ear for about 5 years.  Someone had to come to us and say, “Are you guys STUPID, you should start a business!  I will even help you get off the ground!”

And so I do.  Outcome:

Better than my wildest dreams.

Easier than I can ever imagine.

More support than I could have even HOPED for.

Talent?  Married to it.  Money?  Offered out of the blue. Competition? Hardly. Market? EVERYONE.

It couldn’t have been easier to start.

Yes, of course it’s time consuming and takes effort.  But it doesn’t feel like running into a brick wall at every turn, because that’s how I felt with those other projects.  Makes you wonder, right?  That little voice in my ear.  That little nagging thought in the back of my mind…

I am pretty sure that was God.  But I ignored it because what I wanted had to be NOBLE, had to be FREE, had to scream, “LOOK AT THIS AWESOME, FREE, AMAZING gODLY THING I HAVE STARTED!! Aren’t I GREAT?”

And it always failed.

FAILED.

 It’s my fault because I told GOD what was best.  I played god to GOD.  I told him, “You know what GOD, you don’t know what you’re talking about! If I am going to start something it has to be screaming godliness and righteousness and it has to show EVERYONE how godly I am.  So listen, stop telling me to start something that isn’t screaming CHRISTIANITY, because that is what I am supposed to do!”  (By the way, I am pretty sure that is a main reason the secular world is so annoyed with us.  Always having to shove our “godly” work on other people.  Instead shouldn’t we just  do regular work with Godly inspiration?! )

And He said, “Ok, do it. Be my guest.”

So I tried really hard.  I am pretty sure I either cracked him up trying so hard or maybe broke His heart.  Maybe both.

Just let that sink in……

So friends, I am here, ashamed.   They failed because it wasn’t what I was supposed to do.  I dressed it up in pretty, “Christian” wrapping, with a little, “community service” bow and thought it’d be good enough, because I mean, it wasn’t about me, it was about you.  I was doing you and God a favor by being so giving and wonderful.

Lucky you.

Now I realize, I never had a starting chance.  I was wrong, God was right. I was the hamster, my “intentions” were the wheel.  And I just stepped off, started nibbling on my carrot and realized:

God is really REALLLY good at playing GOD.

We should just let him, don’t you think?  If we are trying so hard and never achieving, if we are frustrated to no end, if we are MAD at people, maybe it’s just not in the plan.  Maybe if you’re reallllly slow like me, it’ll take several failures to realize that you suck. Forcing the things that you want, you’re going to suck at it every.single.time.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on failure.  What did you learn from it?  Are you as stubborn as I am?  What did it take for you to go a different way?  Are you happier?

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Truth be Told…

18 May

A Lie for a Smile or the Truth for a Tear

I saw this quote somewhere, and it hit me.  Freight train style. It reinforces what we all know, sometimes the truth hurts.  But rarely do I consider the flip side of that quote which implies that lies, or omission of  the truth can elicit harmony.  In order to live in blissful ignorance, someone around you has made the choice to not share the truth.
Wellllllll, I’m not that someone.
Right or wrong, I’m really all about telling the truth. And let me be VERY clear on one thing, “the truth will set you free” – from friends that is. And family. Its like this weird phenomena. Telling the truth can make people very angry.  “Speak the truth in love” is easy to do, unless you’re a meanie head. (sometimes I can be, ask my kid.) But RECEIVE the truth in love, now that’s HARD!! And that can lead to conflict because no matter what your intentions are, the person receiving the truth has a choice to make : do they hate you OR hate the truth your telling? Do they give you the benefit of the doubt and handle the truth?  Or do they blame you and ignore the truth?  I have been on both sides of the truth and it is hard no matter what.  It takes bravery to tell the truth, and courage to accept it. Speaking or receiving, telling or omitting, the truth is hard.
Here are some truths that’ve been on my mind lately.

 

1. The truth about Marriage. It kinda sucks. It’s also kinda wonderful. But it’s really close to being 50/50. Now, I can’t get into the argument of whether monogamy is natural or not, because I’m not science-y-ish and have no clue. But here’s what I do know. Jesus didn’t get married and let’s face it, the man died like THE MOST PAINFUL DEATH EVER, so he wasn’t a wimp, but he chose NOT to get married. Sooooooo. Yeah. (I know what my Christian friends are going to say that he was “married” to the Church. Yes. Okay. But can we say that being married to an entity, that’s made up of millions and being married to ONE person is kinda different?? Just a little?) Stephen Hawking, the smartest man EVER, been married twice. Mother Teresa, lived in poverty, and chose to be married to God, and He doesn’t leave his crusty-sweaty-gross socks on the floor. All three completely different. All three either avoided marriage like the plague or failed at it.
So my point is, marriage is HARD. And I’m super mad at Disney for tricking me into thinking that it was going to be “happily ever after.” Like Sleeping Beauty whose been snoozing for decades wants to wake up and marry the first dude who pays attention to her, and boom – happily ever after. Like Ariel, WHO IS 16!!!!!, pisses her dad off, marries the wrong SPECIES, and boom-happily ever after. Jasmine, rich girl marries poor dude. Need I say more?

So let’s cut the crap people. Marriage is super fun while you’re engaged and up all night talking, and vacationing, and holding your new baby. But in between all that fun stuff, it’s really freaking hard. And people get divorced because it’s super freaking hard to deal with THE SAME PERSON AND THEIR SAME CRAP day in and day out. So yes, I AM on marriage número dos. And so is my husband. I’ve learned a lot in the meantime about “togetherness” and “working through things” and praying “for your marriage” and all that STUFF that is supposed to help. And it still sucks sometimes. And it IS still wonderful. But it IS still 50/50. 60/40? Maybe 70/30?

 

2. The truth about Parenting.  IT Sucks. My kids don’t suck, they’re the bomb diggity. But freaking RAISING them!!!!!? EVERY DAMN DAY!!!??? My son has Autism -parenting that everyday can suck. My daughter has Stubbornism – parenting that can suck. And then to top it all off, everyone is in competition with each other!!! It’s enough to pull your hair out! On Facebook the other day there was this quirky little ecard about something new called “Attachment Parenting.” I don’t know what the hell that is, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in that club. Does that mean I’m an UN-attached Parent? What the heck people?? I’ve been a stay at home MOM for 5 years, and it was FREAKING hard. Then I went back to school, and it was freaking hard. Then I went and started a business and parenting during that is hard.
So listen. Let’s start telling the truth. Parenting is hard.  Whatever CLUB you’re in, doesn’t make it easier. Or better. You breast or bottle feed, not because it’s better but because you WANT TO! You work or stay at home, not because it’s better, but because you WANT TO! So knock it if off with the, “because I believe it’s the “”best”” for my child” bull-crap. You do what you want to, because you want to, but that doesn’t make it better.  Parents have this crazy perception that their way is the only way, that is the best way, that their kids will come out better because of alllllll the, “better” work that they put into their kids.  You forget.  Your kid, is a person.  You are in charge of that person, for now.  You are in charge of the inputs for the child, for now.  But then someday, your child isn’t a child, and all the great or terrible decisions they make are because THEY want to, not because you breastfed or bottle fed, plastic or cloth diapered them, were an “attached” (what does that mean anyway?!) or un-attached parented.

 

3. Truth to self. “Why are these women so mean to me?! I’m such a nice person!” Wellllllllllllll, no. No you aren’t. You are a narcissist. Everything that happens in this world isn’t happening to you, for you, because of you. The reason why woman after woman, has ended their friendship with you is not because THEY have a problem, it’s because YOU have a problem – a big one. Telling the truth-to yourself. Looking in the mirror. Analyzing the log in your eye. Everyone has their faults, and the sooner your own up to yours, the easier life gets. Being truthful about your flaws enables you to unglue your butt from the saddle on that HIGH horse. So C’mon, join the rest of us commoners. Like me. I’m bossy. I’m SUPER stubborn. Materialistic. I get annoyed very easily. I’m huffy. I am MRS.NOT.SO.PERFECT.  I am a little but crazy, and depending on the situation possibly MOSTLY crazy.  I’m like 30% percent crazy most of the time, and like 51% in the following scenarios: waiting in line, 5:45am any day of the week, when the web server for my business looses my web content, when people honk at me for no good reason, protecting my kids, when I smell a weird smell, when my kids destroy my closet (aka my happy place), when that super cute style doesn’t come in my size, when my husband goes on a trip out do something that I really want to do and I have to stuck at home with the kids, people in BMWs that drive past my kids playing- driving  like 101010101010 mph, etc.  I can say these things because I do self evaluations, and I feel that it is my responsibility to protect others from me.

Now, be cautious with the self reflections.  I recommend doing this, so you can check yourself, but don’t you wreck yourself.  Meaning, wake the hell up and realize that you SUCK sometimes.  You aren’t perfect.  But don’t go and do this so that you’re feeling sorry for yourself, then we’re back to square one.  I recommend self-analysis for the sole purpose of being an authentic friend and human being.  So that people can come to you and tell you what they suck at, because you can be honest with them about what you need to work on.  It helps.

 

Reader, I am curious what you think.  How do you handle the truth?  Write some of your personal truths down in the comments sections.

 

“You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”  – William Faulkner

“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.” – Cicero

 

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Unknown

Less Than and Greater Than

21 Dec

Hi.  My name is Cecilia.

And I have opinions.

You might not like them.

But you are reading my blog, so you’re going to get my opinions.

You should probably let that sink in before you continue reading.

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The older I get, the less I love Christianity.

The older I get, the more I love Jesus.

How does that happen?  I think it happened when God placed people in my life that have seriously been hurt by the rules of Christianity. “Popular” Christianity would have you believe that if you are divorced, gay, living with someone, a Democrat, gamble, drink, watch TV, an illegal immigrant, listen to Rock-n-Roll,  or Anti-Tea Party, that you are LESS THAN.  But LESS THAN whom I wonder? Less than the committed Sunday church goer?  Less than the Mega Preachers who shout into the masses of co-eds? Less than the person with the fish sticker on the back of their car (who probably just cut you off on the freeway)?

Listen, dear reader.  There is no Less Than scale.  There just isn’t.  None of the rule listers are perfect. You aren’t, and for the record, this blog called Mrs.Not.So.Perfect, it’s about ME. So despite my witty banter and great eye brows, I am not perfect either.

Everyone sucks at being perfect.

Rush Limbaugh sucks.

Beth Moore sucks.

Phil Robertson sucks.

Your pastor sucks, and so do you.

I don’t know what you’ve done, I DO NOT CARE.  Because I suck at perfection too.  But I am not less than you, you are not less than me.  WE ARE THE SAME.  Talk about equality right? We all equally suck at being perfect.

And you know what?

It’s allllllllll good.

God’s love for you is GREATER THAN.

GREATER THAN ANYTHING.

ANYONE.

ANY BAD CHOICE.

ANY HURT.

I guess I just get sick to death of hearing about anything other than that.  I am sick to death of LESS THAN HUMANS deciding who is and isn’t sinning, instead of WHO loves them and what that means.  WHY and HOW do you get to separate people that are just like you?  That’s GOD’S JOB!  You aren’t qualified!!!!

You might read the Bible.  You might have read it cover to cover.  But if you read it and got something other than this out of it,  you just another LESS THAN, HANDING OUT A RULE BOOK INSTEAD OF A LOVE STORY.

1. THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT:  LOVE ONE ANOTHER

2. THE GREAT COMMISSION:  TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS AND GOD’S LOVE.

The Bible is chock FULL of LESS THANS.   Kings and Rulers who just can’t get it right.  Those who have everything and lose it all, because they began to think they were better, GREATER THAN their fellow man.  The Bible is also full of moments when A LESS THAN, like ourselves, connects to the GREATER THAN and does something amazing.  A hooker that sneaks Jews into her city.  A man that loses his wife and kids, his money and land, gets BOILS and is still faithful.  A man that is betrayed by his brothers, left in a hole, thrown in jail and then basically becomes the VP of Egypt. An old woman who gives her last dime to the church.  A man that takes it on FAITH that his girl didn’t get knocked up by another man and then has to hold his wife’s hand while she has the baby in a BARN!!!!

And then of course, there’s Jesus, who goes around telling EVERYONE he can about the GREATER THAN.  It was his MISSION to make sure that people knew that we needed his help to connect to God’s GREATER THAN EVERYTHING love.

If that’s what He did, don’t you think you should too?  When we sing in church, offering our praise and thanks, what are we singing about?  Are we singing about how good we were this week?  How many rules we followed?  I think not.  I think that most of the songs we sing, and that make our souls SOAR, are all about God loving us MORE than we deserve and how his LOVE IS GREATER THAN what we’ve done.  So why are Christians constantly on the forefront of division?  You may say, “Well, that just what we believe.”  But fellow less thans!!!!!!  It’s just dogma! It’s not the cake, or even the frosting.  It’s the vanilla.  One small piece of the entire presentation.  Underneath all the rules of who is and who isn’t, and who has and has not, is the foundation.

My fellow LESS THANS, think hard before you give a list of do’s and don’ts.  Think about whether you are drawing someone, a fellow LESS THAN, in close or pushing them away!  Think hard about using your freedom of speech to express INCLUSION or EXCLUSION.  Is your dogma turning people away?  Was someone interested in Jesus before you said something and then decided to turn away because of your judgement??!  That’s the REAL DEAL fellow less thans.

In the end,  answer with the TRUTH!  THE ONLY TRUTH!!

YOU ARE A LESS THAN

that has been SAVED BY GOD’S GREATER THAN EVERYTHING LOVE.

GIVE PEOPLE THE WHOLE CAKE, NOT JUST ONE INGREDIENT!

 (Great, now I’m hungry for cake…)

Musings from a hospital bed

2 Oct

I spent an interesting 24 in the local hospital bed and here are some of the thousands of thoughts that flowed through my mind.

– My gown has no ties. Not even in the back. Good thing I’ve been getting my yoga on lately.
– In what alternate universe in this a pillow? It feels like someone wrapped the Sunday paper in polyester blend.
– How can they leave me in this room, an ER patient, for 7 hours without checking in on me?
– Thank God for the awesome fire fighter/paramedic who made me feel safe.  He told me “You’ll get through this. TRUST ME, everything will okay.”  And I did. And it was.
– There is a well dressed 16 yr old girl admitted for slitting her wrists and she is out of her mind on drugs. I hope that one day she’ll realize that God has loved her completely, her entire life, even now as she is making a mess out of it. Also, I am moving my children to the wilderness commune.
– I miss the smell of my husband’s deodorant, gotta love Old Spice.
– I hope my kids are not worried about me. Ahhh, who am I kidding….. They are probably loving their one-on-one time with their Daddy.
– If this lady misses my veins ONE MORE TIME!!!!
– Hospital food is truly the worst food on the planet. I’d rather be eating an MRE.
– It is ironic that there is a tv in front of me, I would love to watch anything other than soap operas and QVC.
– The old lady next to me is going to die alone, waiting for the nurse to come.
– Nope she’s fine, now she’s just complaining that they forgot her pudding.
– How can they call this FOOD????
– I need to get a blanket warmer at home. So far, the best thing about being in the hospital is the unending supply of warmed blankets.
– why do NONE of the doctors look like the ones on Grey’s Anatomy?
– I wish I had shaved my legs.
– My husband is a ROCK STAR.
– My kids are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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– I wish my Mom were here.
– I have the awesomest girlfriends on the planet.
– Sometimes facebook is the coolest thing ever, all the well wishes I received actually made me feel better.
– Joanna is a goddess, must repay her kindness.
– My Italian friends have “emergency” meals in their freezers. They are geniuses.
– My husband is a ROCK STAR.
– I really wish this lady would quit complaining about the STUPID PUDDING.
– Maybe if she’s not complaining then she’s dead, so I take that back. Please don’t die in the bed next to me.
– A cheery nurse makes all the difference in the world. A bitchy one better watch her back.
– You said you needed HOW many vials of blood?
– I heard them say “Code Blue” over the loudspeaker, must google what code blue means
– I would kill for a toothbrush right now.
– They have these neat-o shower caps that you place on your head to wash your hair. They’re filled with dry shampoo, so you just place them on your noggin and rub for two mins. So Cool!!!!
– My arms look like that of a heroine addict’s.
– It makes me VERY uneasy when the Dr. seems stumped
– OMG, I am so grateful I haven’t had to spend much time here, I have family that has been in and out of the hospital, and I now I reallllly know how much it sucks!
– Have my kids always been so beautiful? Have they always been so sweet? Answers: Yes and No (maybe 50%)
– I’m going to do TWO blog posts this month to make up for missing my deadline in August.
– Should I make a bucket list?
– I am so glad I got the window view, beautiful sunsets and the American Flag right outside my window.
– Need to call all my friends and tell them how much I appreciate them.
– God, when did my husband get so sexy??? Or, why have I forgotten that he’s always been sexy?

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– This food!! There are no words……. Well, let me try: disgusting, revolting, tasteless, bland, regurgitating, dry, unpalatable, insipid….
– Just saw some footage on Syria, better eat every last bite.
– I wonder what kind of gov’t my kids will inherit?
– My kids, they’re awesome! Danny told EVERYONE on the fifth floor that my booty was showing! Would have been hilarious if it hadn’t have been happening to me.

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Great Expectations = Great Lamentations

16 Sep

Ever feel like you’ve set YOURSELF up to fail?? Ever felt like YOU are your own worst enemy??
Me too. All the time.
Expectations.
Expectations People!!
Sigh……..
They’ve ruined my day, my week, my year and my relationships. I am alone in this?! I think not. I hope not!!! And here’s the thing, I wish I had some mind-boggling, life changing advice for you on managing your expectations.  I do not.  Sorry about this guys, because let me tell you, I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now, and I STILL have nothing concrete to share.

1. Relationships
I have two kids.  Wonderful, beautiful, funny and amazing kids.  Having these two kids, well, it changed me.  BIG TIME.  It seems as though my life, built around raising these two kids, has become super black and white.  Things either “ARE” or “ARE NOT.”  You, reader, either ARE or ARE NOT.  You either are HELPFUL or HURTFUL.  YOU either ADD to my life, or,  you TAKE AWAY.  I just can’t handle distractions.  Even if you’re someone important to me.  I guess, somewhere along the line, when I changed, I just EXPECTED everyone to understand.  They do not. Maybe other parents understand, but maybe not.  Maybe this is just me.  I know I have hurt others when I cut them out of my life because they fell into the, “ARE NOT” category.  But I just don’t know how to manage the expectation that if you aren’t  WITH me, you’re AGAINST me.  Not “against me” in a malicious way, but as in “I just take another ounce of drama that saps my energy.”  I can’t take another conversation where someone drones on and on about issues that they won’t change. I can’t handle you drinking too much,  when I can’t drink enough.  I can’t handle another phantom injury, when my kid has Autism.  I can’t handle your crappy marriage when I have a husband that is gone constantly.  I can’t handle it and WHY WHY can’t they understand it?!?!  Don’t they know I HAVE CHANGED!?!?!  I expect that when you see me chasing after my kids, or cleaning up their poop portraits on the walls, you’d KNOW that I can’t give you anymore.  Isn’t it OBVIOUS!?!?!?!

No.  It isn’t.  Know why?  I do.

BECAUSE IT IS WRONG.

Are you shocked?  I bet I had a few fellow moms rollin’ along with me.  Sorry ladies.  We are wrong.  People don’t understand.  People don’t get it.  And it’s because they NEED YOU TOO.  The two categories,  ARE and ARE NOT, they will isolate you from people who love you.  There is somewhere in between ARE and ARE NOT and that place is TRY HARDER.  The try harder place, is beyond all expectations.  It’s the place where you find strength not from yourself, but from something stronger.  TRY HARDER.  I don’t have the time for it.  I don’t have the energy for it.  But unless I want to be a lonely woman, I have got to let that black and white expectation go.  Have you done it? Show me how!!!!

2. My children.

When I decided to have kids, I decided to set myself up for failure in the expectations department.  I thought, “I will get pregnant without issue, my baby will be born no problem, my kid will be awesome, my marriage will be rock solid, and I can have a life.”

EPIC LAMENTATIONS from those expectations. 

My life thus far, has been a slow and looooong rehabilitation from those simple yet IGNORANT expectations.  My kids don’t behave on Mother’s Day.  My kids don’t sleep at night.  My daughter insists that the color blue is really green.  My son argues with me, and then just starts roaring like a T-rex.  I LIVE for time with my husband and time with my girlfriends.  Yeah, those expectations, they really are like land mines.  I forget about them sometimes.  I will be be-boppin’ along in life and then WHAM!!!!!!!!  One explodes that I forgot was even there, and it makes me want to tear my hair out.   I blame the Brady Brunch re-runs I used to watch when I was younger.  That life with a family, might have its petty little problems, ones that the studio audience will chuckle at.  But nothing serious, nothing scary. When I saw with my own eyes that my son had become the FREAK.  No one was laughing.  When my daughter would climb up on the cabinets and wield my favorite chef’s knife like a samurai sword, no one chuckled.

3.  Cecilia (That’s me.)

I expected to take this “family thing” in stride.  NOT happening.  I am not striding.  I am on the asphalt with my dress over my head and my panties with red cherries are visible to the WHOLE WORLD. ( yeah, that happened to me.)  I struggle with feeling trapped.  I struggle with the enormity of my responsibility.  I struggle with jealousy pangs when I see my friends without family traveling the globe. Or buying nice purses when I had to sell mine to pay for our guest bathroom remodel.  I expected to still get to be ME.  I am adventurous.  I am ambitious.  I have no fear.

Well, I’ve gone THREE YEARS without flying on an airplane to a new adventure.  I have done NOTHING new.  I get scared, really scared sometimes.  I wish that I had left myself open.  I wish that I had asked God for his plan for me, EVERY SINGLE DAY.  That would have squashed those nasty expectations.  

If I could just wake up with NOTHING but an open heart, I would be more content.  That’s the key don’t you think?  Don’t you think that if I could learn to approach with thanksgiving and NOT expectation that I would be a better mom and wife and friend?  Would you?  Could you? (in a box, with a fox?) How do you manage your expectations?  I struggle with mine constantly.  Have you mastered them?  HOW???  Lay some knowledge and wisdom down in the comments sections.  Can’t wait to hear from you.

AUTISM and 6 reasons I might be MENTALLY punching you in the face!

23 Apr

(Warning, this could post could offend you. WARNING, you might disagree.  WARNING, I’m a teensy bit FIRED UP, I’ve had one of my hubby famous margaritas, and my default emotion is sarcasm with a side bluntness!!)

It’s April.  And it’s ASD awareness month, so let me drop a little “awareness” on you.

This kid.

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This kid, who has my eyes, his Daddy face and a smile all his own.

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This handsome, funny, and tender-hearted kid has

AUTISM.

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Don’t feel sorry for us, he’s awesome.  In fact, your pity, really offends me.  You WISH you were as cool as my kid! So take your pity and your “sympathy” and shove it!  Yes, I get a little aggressive when it comes to my kid.  If you have kids, you’ll understand.  (And if you don’t have kids, imagine a little mini-you combined with a little mini version of the person you’re in love with, and then make them innocent.  Make them need you in the way that grass needs water.  Make them so profoundly amazing that it’ll bring you closer to God.  Make the thought of someone hurting that little mini-you, send you into a rage that is BIBLICAL.  Like raining fire and brimstone.  Oh, you just stepped on his toe?  Sorry about the whole brimstone stuff.  I’ve been known to overreact.)

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If you don’t know how to act when you’re around us, I am here to help you become “aware.”   I didn’t accidentally name my blog, “Mrs.Not.So.Perfect.”  I am the FARTHEST thing from perfect, and you can’t be my friend if you are perfect.  So here is a list of things NOT to do, because it’s WAAY beyond me to tell anyone how they SHOULD act.  LOL.

I’m not bossy, I am “aggressively HELPFUL!” ( Thanks JB.)

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So if you see me and my kiddo out at the park, here’s a list of things NOT TO DO, or else you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt, that I am punching you in the face… mentally that is.

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1. When you find out he has ASD, say something like, “Really?  I don’t see it!”

Are you a Neurologist?  Are you in ANY WAY qualified to say what makes a kid have ASD or not?  I don’t care if you are a therapist (qualified for therapy), a teacher (qualified for teaching), a mother/father of 25 children (qualified for the loony bin or the medal of honor), a scientist (debatable what you could be qualified as), a grandparent (qualified for spoiling) or a preacher (qualified for spiritual support).  Unless you are QUALIFIED to diagnosis my kid, don’t question me.  I prayed for months, asking for the  ASD signs to go away and they didn’t.  Then I woke up one day and realized that he was still awesome.  He was still everything I ever dreamed of and hoped for.  And most importantly, he was still the child God gave me to raise up and help become a wonderful man. Maybe you meant to flatter me, but you’re not.  Because I know, you don’t know jack about it when you say something like that.

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2. Talk to me about people who have “healed” their kids.

You can’t CURE ASD.  Not yet.  When most research doesn’t indicate what causes it, how can there possibly be a cure? You can teach coping skills, social tools, communication skills and reduce behaviors, but if you “know of someone-who knows someone-who’s child has ASD”,  that went off gluten and is SURPRISE!!!!! 100 % CURED, chances are they had gluten allergies.  Show me something published by someone REPUTABLE, not an ex-playboy bunny who got airtime on Oprah, then had to come on again to apologize for starting a movement that was based on crap.

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3. Talk to my kid like he’s stupid.

He’s not stupid.  In fact, he’s probably smarter than you.  He might not look you in the eyes or communicate with you the way you’d like him to.  In fact, you might not even be sure that he’s heard you, because he’s covering his ears.  But chances are, when we get home, he’ll repeat word for word what you said, in the bathtub while he’s pretending to be an alligator.  IMG_1542

4. Be a school that tells me what my kid CAN or CANNOT DO.

Here’s the thing.  You don’t know.  So just TEACH him please.  He might frustrate you, he might disrupt your classroom, but he’s IN THE “Special” kid program for a REASON!!!  He’s tough, you don’t have to tell me.  One minute, he’s got you walking on cloud nine because he said that he thinks you’re, “PERFECT” and another minute, you’re having to take yoga breaths because he starting screaming nonstop.  But my kid CAN be taught and he CAN learn, just don’t give up on him.  Help me help you.  Tell me what is going on at school so we can work on it at home.  Of course there are some instances where you are just going to have to PROVE yourself to my son.  Today in car line, the substitute teacher said he had a H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E (she spelled it out) day and needed a talking to.  What happened?  Did he bite someone?  Did he scream until he made OTHER kids throw up?  Did he take off on you in the lunch room and made you chase him like a greyhound after the electric bunny?

Nope.  He saw a puddle and jumped in it.

Seriously? Seriously???????  Geez Lady.  You are in the wrong classroom if that is what a horrible day looks like.

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5.  Undermine our routine.

Do you have pictures of a cartoon character brushing his teeth, his hair, going potty and getting dressed on a laminated schedule on your wall?  Well, I do.  Routine makes and breaks us around here. It is one of the ONLY ways my son copes with the torrential amount of information forcing its way into his little brain.  Respect the routine.  You aren’t doing him any favors by letting him stay up late, he’ll be miserable in the morning because he ALWAYS wakes up at the same time.  You aren’t being nice by letting him play cars instead of reading two books before bed, he’ll wake up at 3am screaming that he didn’t get his books.

Routine.  We need it.  Respect or die.  (just kidding on the death part.)

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6. Act like ASD is a death sentence.

Autism is hard to deal with, hard to parent, and even harder to understand.  Some parents have children whose ASD symptoms are so severe that getting through each day is a miracle.  Some kids have ASD and seem pretty normal, until you mess up their routine, or try to feed them anything that’s not crunchy, or talk too loud, or wash their sheets in a different laundry detergent, or tell them no, or so on. But as far ASD in the scheme of terrible things that can be wrong with your child, it’s not the end all.  So DON’T gasp in horror. DON’T shield your child from my child like they can catch it like a cold.  DON’T ignore  your child if they have several signs and symptoms, because you’re afraid of a label.  DON’T pigeon-hole him.  DON’T force your idea of what he should be doing on him.  DON’T act like my kid is less than.  DON’T say that we did something to cause this.  DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR US!  We have love, we have a purpose, and we have support.  DON’T tell me he needs medication, DON’T tell me he doesn’t.

***************************DON’T tell me that ASD is the trendy excuse for badly behaved kids-I might ACTUALLY punch you then. HARD. IN THE FACE.*******************************

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Here are somethings you can do (I’m totally contradicting myself when I said I wouldn’t do this, I know.):

Pray for my family.

Send me info on doctors, support groups, lectures, programs, therapists, or services you’ve heard are good.

If you’ve come across some research or articles written by someone notable and reputable, send them to me. I am an animal when it comes to reading up on new developments!

If you see my kid doing good.  TELL HIM!  If you see my kid messing up,  tell ME!

Pray for my family.

Respect that we are struggling.  Everyday.

Say something like this:”Thinking of you and totally understand. Call me if you want to talk about anything – OK? Danny is going to do great and he is going to be every bit of the amazing, wonderful boy you always knew he would be.”  A woman whom I had met for 20 mins, whose son also has ASD said this to me on Facebook.  Thank you Jen M.  I cried like a baby when I read that because it was the only thing anyone had said that seemed REAL.  Thank you so VERY VERY VERY much.  I hope that I can say the EXACT right thing to someone someday, and it will totally lift their spirits, like your words did for me.  Thanks so much.

Here is our Autism:Image

Boundaries. GET SOME!

1 Apr

So, I am learning a lot lately on the concept of BOUNDARIES.  And so far, I’ve learned two important aspects that I need to implement now.  Like YESTERDAY.  More like, “WHY in the HECK didn’t I think of this before?”  I feel like if I had done something like this earlier, I could have saved myself a CRAP TON of heartache.  Ugh, don’t you hate that?!  Learning something after the fact, after it really could’ve come in handy.  Argh!  Life can really aggravate me sometimes!  Well, to be more honest, I aggravated myself by the way I lead my life sometimes………..

Boundaries.  For me.  For you.  For everyone.  Jump on my new Bandwagon with me. We’ll have fun.

Aspecto Numero Uno – To protect other people from you:

I need someone to tell me when to stop.  I can be too forceful.  Too opinionated (thanks goodness for blogs right?!). Too BOSSY.  Too quick to make up my mind.  I NEED someone to shake me by the shoulders and say, “Enough already!!!!!” I am learning that most times, NO ONE in my life really wants to hear what I THINK they should do.  If you’re bossy like me you KNOW it’s true!! PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.   I think they just ask for advice to make themselves feel better about the choice they’ve already made in their head.  How would they feel better?  Because now, they can give themselves reassurance that indeed, they asked for advice!  Whatever decision is made, it’s not impulsive!  So WHY, WHY, WHY do I keep telling people what to do???  Who made me Queen of the world? No one. But I do think I would make a great Queen if there are any countries looking. I’ll need a clothing allowance.  Just sayin’.

It stinks when people ask and don’t take your advice doesn’t it?  That phrase, “I told you so.”  It sucks.  It sucks to hear and it sucks to see someone struggle when, IF they had ONLY JUST LISTENED, it could have been avoided!!! If you like saying, “I told you so” I would like to know why, because I HATE IT!

Example: “Cecilia, my husband and I are fighting a lot over _______.”  (Money, kids, sex, religion, in-laws, ex’s, you name it)

The old me: “Well, you should get it together and stop doing _______.  That’s why you guys are fighting and if you don’t do _____ it’s just gonna get worse and then ______ will happen and it be worse and then you’ll get divorced.”  That’s a summed up version, because basically, I can talk for muuuuuch longer than that.

The ideal me: “Man, I am really sorry to hear that.  How can I help?  I will pray for you guys.  I can watch your kids when you’re in marriage counseling.  I can make you dinner to take the pressure off for a night. Is there anything in the BIBLE about that, it’s pretty much the bomb diggity as far as life lessons go. Let me clarify, are you wanting an opinion or are you just wanting to vent?”

Somewhere between the ideal me and the old me, is where I am right now.  Where are you?  You might not be bossy.  Maybe you’re smug.  Maybe you’re judgemental.  Maybe you’re an emotional roller coaster. Maybe you give and give until you’re empty. Maybe you gossip. Maybe you’re a narcissist.  We’ve all got our flaws.  You know in your heart of hearts what yours are.  Pray about it and ask God for a solution to save your relationships.  I did and boy, we came up with an answer!!  For whatever reason, God made me exactly the way I am.  It’s my challenge to find a way to channel that into something that reflects LOVE.  One of my son’s favorite books says this phrase, “I’d rather be helpful than hurtful.”  I had to start asking if I was helping or hurting with my opinions.  Here’s what I figured out with a little help from praying about it:  Ask people for a boundary and respect them.  I actually did that just today, and I really think it’s going to ease some tension in my friendship.  I asked my friend to tell me whether or not she wants my opinion and I promised to stick to it.

A woman I know offered a little advice on boundaries, “If we start out our relationships with boundaries, we stay in control. It takes more work, more effort and carries more risk to create boundaries after things go awry than if we do it ahead of time.”

Aspecto Numero Dos – To protect yourself from others:

Who takes advantage of you? (One friend had a person stay for five days when they only agreed on three!)  Who hurts your feelings?  Who makes you feel less than the super cool person you are?  I am hoping that it’s not someone you call a friend.  Read my blog on Friendship, and release that person into the ACQUAINTANCE ZONE.  I’m guessing it’s the people you can’t get rid of.

Um, not that you’d want to….

Your parents, your siblings, your boss, or maybe even your spouse?  LISTEN TO ME.

wait.  Ah shucks, there I go again, telling you what to do. BUT!  You’re reading this blog so you’ve basically signed up for my opinion.

So, LISTEN TO ME MY FRIENDS.  We are getting hurt because we have no boundaries. END OF STORY.

Remember Dr. Phil?  For some reason in my early twenties I was kinda obsessed with him.  Don’t ask.  He said something that I will NEVER forget.

“YOU TRAIN PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU.”

What?

Lemme break it down for you:  I know you love your Momma.  And I know your Momma loves you.  And I also KNOW that it drives you bat guano crazy when she criticizes your spouse/kids/job/life/finances/muffin top/ and so forth.  I hope you like your Boss. Or at least you NEED this job.   And I hope he (or SHE!) values you.  But I KNOW it drives you bat guano crazy when he (or SHE!) gives you work at the last-minute/micro-manages/gossips about your co-workers and so forth.  So set a boundary.  And reset. And reset again.  Set a boundary until that other person knows how you want to be treated!!

For your Momma: “Mom, I love and appreciate that you have some great advice to offer, but I really NEED to figure out what works best for ME right now.  Please give me a chance to do that.  I could really use your support, not your critiques.  I’m not in a place where I can hear that with love, no matter how constructive you mean them to be.”  Something to that effect I think would really go a long way.  She doesn’t stop?  Sometimes Mommas can be persistent.  “Mom, remember when I said I would rather have your support than your judgements?  I’m not sure you heard how seriously I feel about that.  From now on, let’s put this topic on the shelf.  I’ll ask for your advice when I think it’ll come in handy.  How’s the weather?”   Sometimes Mommas can be persistent AND carry boundary-knocking sledgehammers. “Mom, I love you and I know you love me.  Please give my requests some respect.  If you can’t withhold your judgements, which really hurt me, we aren’t going to be able to talk until you can.”  Hardcore?  I know. I am not suggesting that you cut ties with your family without provocation.  But man!!  They can hurt you.  They know how.  And you can still be honorable and respectful and refuse to sign yourself up for abuse.  TRAIN YOUR LOVED ONES on the way you want to be treated.

For your Boss: “Thanks Mr. Miyagi for trusting me with all this responsibility. How am I supposed to wax on AND off, on top all this other work?  I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to show you that I can handle it.  I am going to need to prioritize to get these things to get them done in a timely manner.  Can you show me what you want done right now, and which tasks can wait until the end of the week/month/quarter?”  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get fired over this blog.  DO NOT GET FIRED OVER THIS BLOG.  DO NOT!!!  If your boss takes advantage of you and you need the income to feed your children, DO NOT make demands of them.  DO NOT GET FIRED OVER THIS BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!  Be persistent but not INSISTENT!  Roger that? And look for another job, WHILE YOU HAVE THAT ONE.  DO NOT GET FIRED OVER THIS BLOG!!  Ask for a plan that he (or SHE!) approves of.  If they can’t give that to you, make one yourself and then make sure you’re on the right track to complete the assignments the way they want them.  Should I say it again?  Just in case? DO NOT GET FIRED OVER THIS BLOG!

Boundaries.  They’re like well-tailored trouser pants.  Everyone needs them.  They aren’t easy to find.  And sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice something to get them.  But once you find some that work for you, you’ll never buy cheap pants again.

I hope you can be successful.  Be helpful, not hurtful. Be respectful but not a whipping post.  Train others how to treat you. DON’T GET FIRED!  

Reflect God’s LOVE. 

How to Make Friends: Part THREE.

3 Feb

JESUS HAD A CREW, YOU SHOULD TOO!

So.  You’ve found your niche (see part 1) you’ve made a great first impression (see part 2) and NOW – drumroll please – you’ve made……. an Acquaintance!

(Sound of brakes screeching)

“Wait a minute, Cecilia!” you say, ” I wanted REAL FRIENDS! I’ve got lots of acquaintances! I want someone I can rely on, be real with, and trust my feelings with!”

Calm down……..

We’ve arrived!  Welcome to the third and final part of my series on making friends:

To make a TRUE FRIEND, you must BE a TRUE FRIEND!

READY?  This one is a bit long, but hang in there with me!

Here’s the magic, here’s the missing piece and here’s where you’ve been going wrong:

EFFORT people.

Have I offended you?  By assuming that YOU haven’t put enough effort into your relationships?  YES!!!!!  It is your fault that you don’t have friends.  I don’t want to hurt your feelings.  I really don’t.

HOWEVER…….

The whole point of me blogging is to be able to tell the truth.  To myself, to you, and to the poor soul that accidentally stumbled upon this blog.  (I’m going to pretend that you just ended up here and can’t help but read these ground breaking and enlightening thoughts of mine.)  But FEAR NOT, God is on your side and so am I!!  So let us sally forth (!) into the realm of truthful and intentional friend making!

The CREW.  I have friends that I can depend on for anything.  I can TRUST them.  I can tell them what I am struggling with, without fear of judgement.  I can trust them with knowing my past, even the UGLY stuff, because I know, they love me for who I am and who I am trying to be.  Pretty cool huh?

I know you want that too.  Who doesn’t???? And guess what, you deserve it. And you need it.  I believe that we were made to crave friendships.  But let me tell you, each one of the people in my crew, I had to hook myself.  I wish I could tell you that they walked up to me.  They didn’t.  So if you’re holding your breath, waiting for someone to approach you with that MAGICAL phrase, that will be everything you’ve ever wanted to hear about how cool you are, let it out.  Please.  You look a little silly all beet red and oxygen deprived.  I had to ask, I had to initiate, and it was a little scary at first.

 EFFORT People!

You can only control what you do, so take control of your actions!  Make them meaningful!  Find out what that makes your potential friends tick, and give it to them. As selfish as it sounds, I believe that great friendships form out of a necessity to GET SOMETHING REAL from someone else.  No, not money.  No, not power.  I am sure that if you’ve tried to get those things out of a friendship, you don’t feel good about it.  I think that the “something”, is that special thing about you, given to you by God, that makes you feel LOVED.

LOOOOOVED!!!

Not pretty.  Not smart.  Not rich and fabulous or frizz free.  I would ask you to take a second and review some of your failed attempts at friendship, what were you looking for?  What were THEY looking for???   There is a great book out there called, “The Five Love Languages.”  READ IT!  It will change you. It was so enlightening to learn how each of us were made differently, and require different types of effort to feel loved.

Mine is “Quality Time.”

I need to have people around me that can spend REAL time with me.  Time to talk or do fun things together. Time to vent, time to feel like someone really, truly gives a rat’s fart about me.  That’s why I NEED date nights with my husband, and why I NEED one-on-one time with my friends.  My friends are busy people, all have kids and some also have careers.  I know their time is precious, but in order to be what I would consider a TRUE friend, you’ve gotta give me your TIME.  Again, if I were to see someone everyday (quantity) and didn’t feel valued (quality) it would not be a worthwhile friendship.

I knew a woman who would send little encouraging cards in the mail, or every time there was a holiday or special occasion, she’d always have some little gift to give. She was a “Johnny on the Spot”. Dinner party?  She’d bring a bottle of wine.   Hospitalized?  She’d send flowers.  Need a pen?  She’d have seventeen.  Everything she did, was exactly what the books say you’re supposed to do.  It was very nice, she was thoughtful. And always prepared.  BUT!  I really could have cared less.

Harsh right? I know, I’m sorry.

The bottom line is that I needed the investment of her time, and she could never make me a priority. While I could rely on her to have nine different books on breastfeeding, I couldn’t trust her to come over and listen to what was going on in my heart.  It hurts too much to be friends with someone who can’t give you what you need. You’re always left feeling a little inadequate.

I hear you saying, “Wait a second, what if that is how she shows she cares?!!!  Can’t you be friends with someone as long as they care about you??”

I would argue that NO, you cannot.  A true friend finds what YOU need and gives it to you.  It takes EFFORT and it can be a little uncomfortable if what they need is your weakness.

But you see, that’s where the separation from “friend” and “acquaintance” come into play.  A true friend WILL SACRIFICE for you.  A true friend will do things that build you up, even if it means being uncomfortable themselves.  It’s HARD to be a true friend.  That’s why they are so very, VERY special.

Keep in mind please, that it is OKAY to be OKAY with NOT moving someone into your crew.  I knew a girl in the military, that NEEDED me to agree with everything she did.  Her need in a true friend was someone who could stand by her, no matter what.  Like, really, NO MATTER WHAT.  Sleeping with the guy you like?  “Borrowing” your credit card without telling you?   Not lying, but “omitting.”  I couldn’t be there for her “NO MATTER WHAT.”  I was a doormat, or maybe I was a revolving door.  Either way, I couldn’t be anything related to doors. It exhausted and frustrated me.

So we could never be true friends.  In my early twenties, I was saddened and upset by that. I just wanted a friend SOOOO desperately.  Now, in my thirties, I understand that it was okay to let her go.

Here is an example of a sacrifice I CAN make.  I have a TRUE friend that is insecure.  About everything.  Her past, her parenting, her looks.  Heck she’s insecure about being insecure!!!  She NEEDS a true friend that can give constant ENCOURAGEMENT.  It doesn’t come easy to me.  In fact if I left myself, I can get annoyed with it. Because I am  more of a, “Buck Up Buttercup!” type.  But I do it, I put EFFORT into encouraging her because I care about her deeply.  The value of her friendship to me, far outweighs being uncomfortable.  And guess what, she gives me quality time, despite the fact that she’s a mom, and a wife, and a successful business owner.  She is a wonderful friend to me!

So the moral of my tale is this:

***It’s very important that you take some time and find out what YOU NEED in a friend!  Then ASK for it!****

***Take a hard look at who you consider your friends to be.  Are you able to be their TRUE friend?  Can you sacrifice and give THEM what they need? Do they give you what you need?  If not, release them KINDLY into the “acquaintance” group.  Because in the long run, you’re taking the place of someone who can!***

I hope that you find my position on friendship helpful, especially if you are lonely.  Being lonely sucks!  I’ve been there and I would hate to for you to be there too.   If you have a question, let it rip!!  I promise to REALLY try to help you if I can.  I have messed up so many times, I have a really reliable list of what NOT TO DO!  Good luck friends!

 

How to Make Friends. Part Two

24 Dec

Continue reading

Thanksgiving – The Aftermath

24 Nov

In this post I’d love to share some of the recipes that WORKED for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Maybe you can add them to your arsenal next year.  If I made any adjustments, I’ll note them with the link.

For the turkey:

BRINE PEOPLE, BRINE!!!!!! I’ve been doing it since it became trendy about 4 years ago.  I also follow Alton Brown’s cooking instructions in this video.  NOTE: the leave-in thermometer that reads temp as the cooking process continues, it’s a must.  Go out and buy one yesterday! It’s the BOMB DIGGITY! (yes, I just said that.) Here’s one similar, although mine doesn’t talk.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html

For the cranberry sauce:

Alex Guarnalththuthggh (still not sure how to pronounce her last name)

I quadrupled the recipe, we like our cranberries around here.  I left out one cinnamon stick because I like my sauce with a little bit of tang, to contrast the savory taste of cornbread stuffing.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alexandra-guarnaschelli/cranberry-sauce-recipe/index.html

Pumpkin Pie:

Took this to the fire station my husband works at and the fire fighters LOVED it! Normally, I’d be inclined to think that a group of men would eat anything you’d put in front of them, but fire fighters are different: they can cook.  Except my husband, who’s been banned for life from the kitchen. Anyway, the mascarpone cheese makes all the difference in the world.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pumpkin-Mascarpone-Pie-240423

Cauliflower Gratin

Ina Garten or The Barefoot Contessa, is my “Michael Jordan” of cooking.  Her recipes deliver, every time, no exceptions.  She’s my hero. I want her life. I want that AHMAZZZZZZing house/barn/kitchen thing she has just for cooking and entertaining.  And that herb garden, and all those amazing friends that show up randomly to decorate, speak french, and shower her with compliments.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cauliflower-gratin-recipe/index.html 

Not that I EVER give up my two kiddos:

that are sometimes booger covered and chant “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…” relentlessly, or my home that needs walls knocked down and pastel wall paper torn off….

The other things that worked are family recipes, which have no measurements and would frustrate me trying to write them down and you trying to interpret my “pinch of this” and “handful of that” instructions.

Now here’s where we get to my weakness: leftovers.  This morning we made a Quiche (aka “egg pie” – we isn’t too fancy ’round here). But that’s all I got, folks.  Any suggestions?  I’m dying to make something new and exciting out of my leftovers!  Hit me up with a link or two if you have some favorites!

Now, we are off to pick up our Christmas TREE!!!! YAY!!!

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