Friday, April 29, 2016

Words Are Like Toothpaste

I almost started this post with a snarky little comment about something a friend posted on Facebook yesterday, but when it comes to sharing online, we have to be careful what we put "out there." After I typed my original first line, I thought,"Wait! Does she read my blog? What if she reads this post and figures out that sentence is about her? I better not start it that way!" Then, I quickly deleted every last letter I had typed.

Nowadays, it seems people put anything and everything online. We (well, some people) are quick to share opinions and information with anyone who is willing to be our friend on Facebook or follows on Twitter. We forget that words are like toothpaste - once you squeeze them out, it's very difficult to put them back in. 

In the blogging world, I have seen this cause so many problems. Bloggers have been accused of plagiarism and even sued over it. I know bloggers who have bared their souls only to find themselves insulted and cursed by others. In fact, some writers have abandoned their blogs because of it. I have even seen a blog commenter use the platform to cry out for help escaping from an abusive relationship. 

I can hardly stand to scroll through my own Facebook feed anymore because it has become such a political platform where people tout their die-hard support for one side or the other and insult those who disagree. And, y'all, I DESPISE politics with a deep and heartfelt passion.

Those who aren't spewing liberal vs. conservative or conservative vs. liberal hogwash are sharing their sunny, beachside vacations, or their weight loss success, or their "I puffy heart love my precious children" moments. Because I am always a fragile victim of comparison, my newsfeed scrolling ends with me feeling like a boring, fat, not-so-great mom and an all round mediocre person. 

The online world continues to get bigger and the sharing keeps getting more out of control which means the ramifications are reaching more ridiculous levels every day.

So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? That is the conundrum - or at least my conundrum. 

If you follow my blog, you may have noticed that I've been a little absent lately. Ironically, my last post was titled "Why I Keep Coming Back" and it was published three weeks ago. I wrote it, published it, then walked away from this space for a while. 

While I was away, I wasn't really away. I was right where I always am running carpool, going to my kids' soccer games, and trying to keep our household running on a daily basis. I thought about writing, but never had the motivation or time (or motivation to make time) to sit down at my computer and type. I kind of missed it, but I kind of didn't and it's that "kind of didn't" part that is really making me think. 

I keep thinking my writing "mojo" will return if I'm patient and can just wait it out, but I've been waiting a while and I'm beginning to think that my creative juices are hiding somewhere along with my metabolism and that they are peering through the cracks trying to stifle their laughter as I spin my wheels. 
The online world is a tricky place. What do you share? @TheGoldenSpoons #FTSF

I guess, right now, I'm in a phase of evaluation - thinking about what I share online (here on the blog and elsewhere), reconsidering the purpose of it all, and deciding what direction to go. 

This online world is a tricky, ever-evolving place to live. Some days, I love the connections and the creative outlet it provides. Some days, I just want to pull the plug on the whole internet. 

How do you feel about sharing online? What do you share and where do you draw the line?

This post was written as part of the Finish The Sentence Friday Linkup and this week's sentence was "When it comes to sharing online . . . . . " FTSF is hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why I Keep Coming Back

Once upon a time, I thought blogging could make me famous. When I started writing here in this space, I did it to record memories of my girls and share the ups and downs of motherhood. It didn't take long before I found bloggers like Ree Drummond -The Pioneer Woman, Scary Mommy, and Glennon Melton (Momastery). I got stars in my eyes and was certain that I could find the same fame and fortune. If I dove in and gave it my all, it would certainly bring me money and accolades as well.

It didn't. It hasn’t. It probably never will. At least, not to the degree I had once envisioned. It has given me something better, though; something I never expected when I jumped in. It has given me connections and beautiful friends. I've met a few of them in person and a few of them only live in my computer, but they are all real and genuine and some of my closest friends. They know me just as well as the ones that live right "next door." 

Blogging also gave me the gift of finding a passion I had never fully discovered; a love of writing and words for which I had, previously, only scratched the surface. It gave me a way to connect what was in my head with what was in my heart and a conduit to express it all. 

That’s why I write and why I keep coming back to my blog even when the words aren’t coming to me.

When I saw that the sentence for today's Finish the Sentence Friday was, "Sometimes, I wonder about my writing. I keep on and on because..." it made me really think about why I do go on; why I keep coming back here.

Lately, writing hasn't come very easily for me. As my kids get older, acceptable, entertaining, shareable topics become more difficult to find. Our lives are busy and time always seems short. Previous rejections still sting, too. In the past few months, writing/blogging have brought me more stress and frustration than joy. I have considered, on many occasions, leaving this space - walking away and never coming back. 

When I sat down and really thought about it, I realized these are the reasons I cannot walk away - the connections and the passion. 

So what happens when the inspiration and the words don't come? What happens when it's forced and not really enjoyable? 

That's when the connections mean even more. That's when I dig deeper and try harder - but also relax and let go a little, too. That's when I keep pouring out my heart, but hide some of it in a personal notebook rather than putting it here. That's when visions of fame and fortune fade away and I just keep writing because I have to; because it's part of who I am. 

In the future, I'm not sure what things will look like here. Posts have already become more sporadic and infrequent. I'm sure that will continue. You may also notice that posts are more about me and less about my kids. Maybe someday, this space will lose it's grip on me and I will really walk away. For now, though, I keep coming back here time and time again because connections mean so much and because this space, the words, and the writing, hold parts of my soul that I'm not ready to give up on just yet. 

Finish the Sentence Friday is hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

5 Ways Motherhood Has Prepared Me To Win on CHOPPED!

Are you familiar with the TV show "Chopped" that airs on the Food Network?
Basically, 4 chefs compete in three timed rounds of competition. They are given a basket full of unknown (and usually weird, unrelated) ingredients. They must use those ingredients to prepare an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. Each course is judged by some professional chefs and restauranteurs, then, one player per round is chopped (i.e. eliminated), leaving one person victorious. The winner receives a $10,000 prize. 

First of all, let me make it very clear that I am not actually going to compete on "Chopped." Sorry to disappoint! I do love to cook, though and I even have an entire recipe section here on my blog. However, I am certainly no gourmet chef. All my "formal" training comes from a lot of my mom, some from my mother in law, and a hefty serving of trial and error. 

Despite my lack of culinary expertise, as I was watching the show the other day, it occurred to me that is a lot going on for the competitors other than just cooking - some things for which skills learned in motherhood would be quite useful.

If I ever was on chipped, motherhood would give me an advantage because . . . . . 

  1. I'm used to my food be scrutinized, judged, and criticized. Seriously, those Chopped judges have got nothing on a picky toddler or a persnickety eight year old! The food critics at my table are especially discriminating when I present to them something different and new. I would be completely prepared (and probably rather immune to) anything the professional judges might throw at me. 
  2. I always cook with a ticking clock in the background. The only difference is that my clock comes in the form of a "hangry" 11 year old, an impending soccer game, or a very small window of time between riding lessons and bedtime - OR all of the above! Instead of a TV show host constantly reminding be of the countdown, I have a family who not so casually saunters through he kitchen to check on my cooking progress or shoots more than a few  "What's for dinner?" and "How much longer?" questions my way. 
  3. I am forced to improvise recipes on a regular basis. At least once a week, I have to make adjustments to my planned menu due to an ingredient I forgot, a schedule change, or the fact that I forgot to thaw something ahead of time. Just tonight, I realized that the chicken recipe I had planned to try was actually a crock pot recipe - only I forgot to put it in the crock pot earlier in the day. So, at 4:30pm, I was doing an internet search for a skillet version, but the ones I found required an ingredient I did not have. What did I do? I took all the recipes into consideration and improvised my own version. It was actually pretty good! I know I could take the ingredients in those baskets and come up with something edible.
  4. Like most moms, I am an excellent multi-taker! Sauce joining on the stove, ice cream freezing in the machine, and pastries baking in the oven while chopping strawberries and figuring out what the heck to do with the cheese puffs? No sweat! Usually when I'm cooking, I am also helping with homework, conducting piano practice, cleaning something, and refereeing sibling arguments. I've got this! 
  5. Money is a very good motivator!! Sure this is true for any contestant on a TV reality show, but it is definitely true for moms! My kids outgrow clothes ten times faster than they go out of style and they eat us out of house and home! We've got to pay for college and weddings - we need that cash!!!! 

I am totally prepared to be on #Chopped! Which #realityshow would you go on? #1Word @TheGoldenSpoons

See? I am completely prepared just in case I should ever get the joy of having a chance to be on "Chopped"! Well, you know, except for my lack of actual culinary competence, that is. 

If you ever had the chance to be on a reality TV competition, which one would you rock?


This post is part of the One Word Linkup hosted by Janine of Confessions of a Mommyaholic and meParticipants chose one of the three word prompt choices, write a post inspired by that word, and link up. This month, the choices were JOY, DIFFERENT, and NEW.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

13 Lessons Learned From 13 Years of Parenting

I remember it vividly. My husband and I, newlyweds and not yet parents, were walking through a busy shopping mall hand in hand. We passed a frazzled young mom who had a screaming toddler in her arms and all her packages in the stroller. I naively said to my hubby, "I will never understand why parents do that! The stroller is for the kid. Why doesn't she just strap him in and go home?"

A few years later when I had my first daughter, I, of course, did the exact same thing more times than I could count. I became the frazzled mom with a crying kid in my arms and bags in the stroller. Without a doubt, passers by thought I was nuts. I learned my lesson.

In fact, my oldest daughter is now 13 years old and we have two other daughters as well, ages 11 and 8. They (whoever "they" are) say experience is the best teacher and I have certainly learned a few things in my 13 years as a mom.
  1. Pick Your Battles - We hear this one all the time, but it's true. Is it really going to matter tomorrow, in a year, in ten years, that her clothes don't match today? That he really needs to take his Transformer with him? 
  2. Everyone has struggles - While you envy that your friend's daughter eats avocado and tofu while you can't get yours to eat anything but chicken nuggets, she is probably jealous that your daughter actually sleeps through the night while her two year old is still waking up multiple times. Our parenting struggles are different, but we all have them.
  3. Don't judge other parents - You don't know their struggles, so when you see that frazzled mom at the mall, don't judge her like I did once.
  4. "This too shall pass" - Despite how it feels at the moment, the tantrum will end. Your child WILL sleep through the night and be potty trained, too - eventually. All the phases will end a some point - just hang on a little longer.
  5. Trust your gut - No one knows your child better than you. Trust your instincts.
  6. You cannot do it alone - Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It really does take a village to raise a child, so find your village and let them help you. Remember that you may be part of someone else's village, too.
  7. Life rarely turns out the way you had planned - I'm a Type A planner and organization freak, but when you have kids, your "plan" becomes merely a framework for how you hope things will work out; simply a guideline to curb the chaos ever so slightly.
  8. Sometimes, you just have to let it go - The messes, the craziness, the less than perfect; it's all okay, I promise. Stop stressing about the little things and try to find the blessings hidden inside the pandemonium.
  9. Nothing can bring you as much happiness as your child's laughter. - Not a bigger house or a fancier car; not a skinnier physique or a bigger salary. Nothing is as precious as their laughter and joy.
  10. Nothing is as peaceful as a sleeping child - Nothing.
  11. There is a completely different level of fear - Think you were afraid that time you went bungee jumping or interviewed for that big promotion? I guarantee it pales in comparison to the fear you feel the first time your kid chokes on a piece of candy or when you think about handing them the keys and watching them drive away alone.
  12. Seasons change, but it doesn't really get easier. Sure, my kids are now potty-trained and can tie their own shoes, but we have other challenges like eighth grade math homework about perfect square trinomials (huh??) and whose turn it is to sit in the front seat of the minivan every. single. time. we go somewhere. We're navigating puberty, social media, and high school choices. It's not really easier or harder - just different
  13. At the end of the day, if everyone is happy, healthy, and safe, that's all that really matters. Anything else is just icing on the cake.
At the end of the day, if everyone is happy, healthy, and safe, that's all that really matters. Anything else is just icing on the cake. #TuesdayTen @TheGoldenSpoons
I'm certainly not a parenting expert. I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes and will probably make plenty more before all my girls leave the nest. I have to remind myself, though, to see the big picture. My girls know they are loved beyond measure, that I am doing the very best I can, and that they are the most important thing in my life. As long as I can say that much with confidence, I think we'll all be just fine. 

This post is part of the Tuesday Ten linkup hosted Rabia of The Liebers and me on the first Tuesday of the month. Want to join the fun? Link up your own list of 10 (or more!) below and join our Facebook group for future reminders and ideas!

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