Inspiration

Sometimes Commercials Surprise You in a Good Way

When I first saw this commercial during the Super Bowl I was in tears, for two reasons. The girls in the beginning reflect exactly what society expects; weak, not quite good enough, inferior. The younger girls are still true to themselves; strong, confident, fierce. And I saw in those young girls my own two daughters who are not afraid to run hard, fight hard and believe in themselves. When this same commercial was played in church on Sunday it made me want to hug my girls tight to my chest and whisper into their hair, don’t ever change, stay true to your heart.

Watch this video and tell the girls in your life the same thing. I’m proud to do everything like a girl.

Two P’s For the New Year

I’m a mildly anxious person.  I get stressed easily.  I can get into a negative mood and nothing can shake it.  Sometimes this spills over into my home life and I show my ugliest feelings to those I love the most.  Yelling at the kids, collapsing at the end of the day exhausted, worrying about something slight, feeling depressed because I haven’t seen the sun in more than 10 days. You get the idea.

This year I promised myself I would make big changes.  Instead of my usual list of New Year’s Resolutions, this year I made a tiny list.  Only two things were on it.  I figured two things are easier to tackle than a list of twelve right?!

My simple resolution list looks like this:

1. Be more positive.

2. Be more patient.

Or to simplify even further, this year I will practice positive patience.  I like the sound of it.  Positive Patience.  When I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed out by fighting kids, annoyed at spilled orange juice, questioning everything, I will remind myself to be positive – everything will be ok, it always works out in the end, this too shall pass.  I will remind myself to be patient – yelling only makes me feel guilty afterwards, staying calm feels good, they are growing up so fast.

If you’re feeling a bit lost this new year or just looking for an easy tweak to your normal routine, practice positive patience.  I’m no self-help expert on anyone but myself, but this is my prescription.  Try it and let me know if it works for you.  Then maybe I can write a self-help book….

Faith in Humanity Restored

On Sunday I was patiently sitting in Starbuck’s wildly long drive thru line, smiling as the kids sang along to some unknown song.  I wanted coffee.  And it had to be Starbucks.  I know paying almost $5.00 for a cup of coffee that consists of mostly sugar and whipped cream is insane, but there I sat.  Happy.  Excited even.

I pulled up to pay when the cashier informed me the woman in front of me paid for my order.  Isn’t that nice? she asked.  I was so surprised!  I’ve heard of this type of thing happening, read about it in magazines, but never has it happened to me.  In keeping with the spirit of passing on the good vibes, I paid for the woman behind me.  As I pulled away, sipping my pumpkin spice latte, a wave of joy washed over me.  It felt good to know there are still kindhearted, generous people in the world, doing good just because.

I wonder if someone paid for her order.  I wonder how long the kindness lasted.  Did people continue to pay for one another all day?  It’s a nice thought, all that good will swirling around a little coffee shop.  I wonder if that woman in her unassuming gray car with the pink sweater and wrist brace knew how fantastic she made my day.  I’m still floating.

A Few Seconds Out of Your Day

Sometimes the kindness of complete strangers restores my faith in humanity.  A door held open, a warm smile and nod, a wave to go ahead in traffic, a compliment bestowed on my littlest guy, offering change when I’m one-cent short, a helping hand with two carts heavy with groceries.  All these small gestures, volunteered out of sheer faith and goodwill, make me smile and feel thankful for the kindness of strangers.  What have you done for a total stranger today?

Breathe and Smile Baby

I recently finished a great book, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart by Tara Brach. She recounts a wonderful story about Thich Nhat Hanh. If you don’t know who that is, you should. Google him. He will inspire you.

When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to the San Francisco Zen Center in the 1970’s, the students asked him what they could do to improve their practice. He had entered a monastery at age sixteen, was an ordained monk, and had endured the horrors of the war in Vietnam. I imagine they expected some rigorous prescription for deepening their spiritual life. Thich Nhat Hanh’s response: “You guys get up too early for one thing, you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you this week. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.”

I think this advice can be applied to all aspects of our lives, as parents, as writers, as artists, and as human beings we would all be better served to adopt this mantra. Breathe and smile. Relax your standards. Approach your life with an open heart. Breathe and smile. Just breathe and smile.

Don’t Live Someone Else’s Life

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All too often we compare ourselves to other mothers, tallying up all the things she has or does that we don’t.  She has a nice car, more expensive jeans, her hair is always perfect, she has a part-time job and runs in marathons and secretly I hate her.  Why?  Do I really think she has it all together?  Maybe her own mother is sick with cancer, but she keeps up appearances for her children.  Maybe her closet is full of all the latest designer fashions, but her credit card debt is through the roof.  Maybe she is just as insecure as the rest of us, but puts on a good act to hide her imperfections.  Maybe she is a little bit jealous of us, those of us who show up at school pickup without makeup, hair in a messy bun, just happy to see our kids. Maybe she wishes she could let go a little bit, not always be ON, just be herself, her real self, behind the perfect makeup and manicures.

Who knows?  Some days I want to be that mom who has it all together; hair done, makeup fresh, matching socks, crisp outfit, good mood, smile on my face, swooping my kids up and we are all perfect, perfect, perfect.  But in reality, those days are few and far between.  The stress to be the perfect mom is not worth the aggravation most of the time.  It feels good to portray an image of togetherness, but it doesn’t feel real or authentic at all.  My reality is messy and disorderly, chaotic and jumbled.  I’d rather spend time cuddling my baby than putting on makeup and trying on outfits.  I’m not a complete mess, I leave the house looking decent, but you know what I mean.  We all have those days when even putting on mascara is just. too. much.

So today embrace your true self.  Don’t compare yourself to any one else.  It’s hard to do, but try just for today to not care about fancy, blow-out, marathon running mom and focus on the fabulousness that is you.  The mascara can wait until tomorrow.

How I Love This Woman

I first discovered Maya Angelou when I was in high school and searching for my own style of poetry. She had me from that very first sentence. Every time I read this poem I get chills, it is powerful stuff, and I walk away with my head held a little higher, a smile on my face, a twinkle in my eye.

So please remember, you’re not just someone’s wife or mother or daughter. You are a phenomenal woman. And we are magic aren’t we?

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

Every Once In A While Someone Comes Along

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And makes you so happy just being in their presence. They exude positivity, creativity and motivation. They inspire, encourage and promote you, cheering you on in the stands, even when the stadium is empty. That person for me is my sister-in-law. This post is for her. She makes me smile when I’m down, helps me see the big picture while I’m looking through a pinhole, and just makes me feel more upbeat about life. Jess, I hope you know how much you mean to me. You are the little sister I never had.  (Lucky for us, we’re past the sister stage of fighting over boys and jeans and sneaking out of the house…I think.)

I’m thankful for you, a real authentic woman.  XO

Today…

Make it happen

Today, make it happen.  The painting you’ve been waiting to finish, the article revision you’ve been putting off, the prayer you’ve been meaning to pray, the apology you’ve been wanting to whisper, the friend you keep putting off.  Just get on with it.  Get out the paintbrushes and get messy.  Sit down at the computer and bang it out.  Get on your knees and send up your plea.  Say I’m sorry.  Call your friend.  You’ll be glad you did.