Golden State of mind. –author unknown
There are moments where time simply stands still. In those moments a solid memory is formed…and that’s where the next song on the list comes in. “Someday” by the group Sugar Ray (released in 1999) was the soundtrack to an absolutely perfect space in time for me. As a transplant to California, I quickly learned that there’s a learning curve to navigating the Golden State lifestyle. First, practically everyone is beautiful. People dress differently in Cali and carry themselves with a lot of confidence. Next, most things costs way too much, really. And finally, driving there is a sport. Still, after a few months, I finally felt like I was finding my way. This was home.It’s hard not to love California…amazing scenery and that salty, ocean smell. I recall driving on the 101, windows rolled down, the rolling hills of Marin County in the background when this song came on the radio. A song about having no regrets, a song about believing in the choices you have made, basically a song about contentment. And that’s exactly what I felt in that moment. For whatever reason, whatever my destiny was, however my purpose on this planet worked out–I wholeheartedly knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that particular place in time. I’ve never forgotten that feeling.
Lead singer, Mark McGrath has said in interview that the group was about having fun and seeing just how far they could go. While Sugar Ray actually played a wide variety of music styles…it was their pop rock, upbeat stuff that launched the group to fame. “Someday” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Modern Rock Tracks, Hot 100 Airplay and on the Canadian charts, as well. The band enjoyed great success with their trademark southern California vibe.
Whenever I hear the song, I’m transplanted back to that time (I can even smell the ocean!) My life has changed a great deal since them. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had other experiences like the one that day. Today, I refer to them as “God-moments,” little assurances where I know I’m in just the right place, and I am so grateful.
UP NEXT: Song 12…”run, run lost boy….”
We age not by years, but by stories. ― Maza-Dohta
There’s a big difference between “growing up” and “growing old.” Each process garnering its own tension (and with any luck,) eventually leading to some sense of solace and peace. Still it seems that in today’s culture, “growing old” is definitely the greater evil. In fact, I listened to a podcast recently that basically laid out just how taboo aging has become (I realize the mere mention of the word “podcast” clearly ages me as well!) Let’s face it, at 40something I’m way past the “growing up” stuff. So I guess this just leaves me mired in the murkiness of “growing old.” Sigh.
Honestly though, I’m finding more happiness than heartbreak with each passing year. It’s not necessarily fun watching the wrinkles and the gray hairs appear, but mentally and spiritually I feel like I’m in a good space. A place I wouldn’t trade for being a teenager again (I’m still apologizing to my mother.) And as tempting as it sounds, going back to my college years just doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to. They say you’re only as young/old as you feel. And as a self-proclaimed “old soul,” I figure I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Still, crossing onto the other side of the BIG 4-0, I strongly believe I’ve gained some insight. While I haven’t exactly reached curmudgeon status (I’m working on it,) I certainly classify myself as “old enough to know better,” “wise enough not to fall for that” (again,) and filled with enough “I told you so” stories to write a “how-NOT-to guide.” Hopefully this makes me “M” for Mature, but more realistically, most would just rate me “O” for Old. Still, I will not be deterred. So whether you asked for it or not, let me drop a little wisdom here…because I just might know something. Perhaps even something worth sharing….
- There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed. As a kid, I hated going to sleep. I thought it was a huge waste of time. Add to that my overactive imagination, frequent nightmares, and night owl tendencies…and it becomes clear that sleep was not high on my priority list–EVER. Still, I have really come to value the power of a good night’s sleep. I especially appreciate sleeping in my own bed. To be honest, I have a really hard time sleeping anywhere else. Something about MY pillows and MY blankets. This is a safe haven. No TV in the bedroom. No scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix in bed for me. When my head hits the pillow, I’m out. Beautiful, peaceful and restorative slumber…in my own bed. I’m all about it!
- Moisturizer is your best friend. I have always made it a priority to take care of my skin. Never EVER sleeping in make-up (especially mascara!) Always wearing sunscreen (something I had to learn the hard way after acquiring a horrible sunburn while working a car wash fundraiser in high school. Ewww…blisters.) I’m a Noxema girl and a sucker for its eucalyptus scent. A family member suggested wearing night cream as well as day cream after college graduation. Great advice…I am eternally grateful (so is my skin.)
- “Respond more. React less.” Not my quote, but a great little ditty nonetheless. Basically, the idea is that we take a moment to process a situation, instead of just going off on someone. In a world where every feeling is justified for its mere existence, there is something to be said about thoughtfulness. Look, I’m not talking about being a spineless, doormat…instead let’s hash out our feelings before we broadcast them. It could save face and maybe even some stress and heartache. “When we respond, rather than react, we actually communicate from our highest principles and deepest desires. Reactions on the other hand, come straight from our most shallow anxieties and fears.” –Hal Runkel
- Be generous. It’s such a human tendency to want to keep things for ourselves. Some of us do it out of greed or maybe even fear. Others can’t let go of things because of guilt. We all have our own reasons, but I have found that generosity is its own reward. And it’s important to remember that giving isn’t necessarily limited to money either. Being generous is about a willingness to offer time, energy, attention, advice…the list could go on and on. Putting others above yourself is Biblical and a little goes along way!
- Seek out healing people and places. There’s no substitute for peace. As a twenty something I remember meeting a woman who absolutely made the hairs on my arm stand on end! She was an older woman, polite and wonderful with kids, so when this gut feeling struck…I had no real explanation for it. In fact, I felt guilty every time the feeling came on. After some time, I was able to figure out exactly what was going on. She had an energy that just didn’t jibe with mine. Her jumpy, antsy disposition made me feel anxious. Her energy level actually drained mine. It wasn’t about judgement, we remained friendly, however it was just a gentle reminder for me (all of us) to seek out people who lift us up, people who help us to be our best self, and whose company is soothing to the soul. You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone on the planet.
- Look deeply. This is a new one for me. An idea that has just become very important to me in the last year or so. You see, my kids are growing so fast. As hard as it is to believe, they actually change in some ways every single day. This is exciting and completely terrifying! They say “don’t blink” and wow, that has never been more true. The idea of looking deeply extends past my children, too. Sometimes I walk in my front door and just stare at my living room (piles of kid shoes, backpacks everywhere, bulky baseball/softball bags, etc.) and realize I am blessed. Sometimes I chase down the “deer moon” on a summer night (ask my kids about that one!) Often, I take photographs of seemingly mundane things just because I don’t want to forget the moment. If you catching me staring at you…please consider it a compliment!
- The grass is never greener. I know that’s not exactly how the idiom goes, but it’s the truth. I cannot think of one time when this has EVER panned out. I’m not into comparing myself to others. I don’t want what you have, I’m too busy to play that game. It’s not healthy and it will get you absolutely no where. Don’t get me wrong, this is a tough one. The green-eyed envy monster is for real. And it will wreck your day (and even your life) if you let it.
- You can say “no.” They never tell you this. From the time we’re babies, people are always telling us “no.” “No” you can’t have that, “no” you can’t touch that, “no” can’t do that either. But no one ever tells us that we can say “no,” too. “No” I don’t have to go along for the ride. “No” I don’t have to sacrifice my well-being and happiness just to appease you. “No” your choices don’t have to be my choices. You get the picture.
- Laugh often. I love sitcoms and comedies. I honesty live to laugh. I also have a strange sense of humor and value sarcasm. Just a look or an odd phrase will have me in giggles. “Smiling really is my favorite” (ELF.) It probably helps that I’m easily amused. Life really is too short not to spend a good chunk of it laughing. It’s a funny world we live in…seek out your own joy. And when you can’t find anything to laugh about…laugh at yourself. It’s humbling and good for the soul.
- God is everywhere. “Life in real-time is messy. The fingerprints of God are often invisible until you look at them in the rearview mirror.” Levi Lusko is the author of this quote and it has really shaped how I view the world. At 42, I already know that God is all around us…what a blessing it is to purposefully seek out His presence on a daily basis. It sounds lofty and maybe even hard to do, but it’s possible and so incredibly rewarding. The more we tune our spirit into seeking out His hand, the easier it becomes to discern His handiwork.
None of us can turn back time (although I’m willing to spend a small fortune trying-lol!) And while the world is telling us that 40 is the new 30, I’m not so sure I buy it…at least not wholeheartedly. I can’t help but think of so many who exemplify aging gracefully and I just pray that I can grab a little bit of that for myself…all labels aside (especially “O.”)
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31
In case you didn’t know it, that’s MOM upside down!
Okay, all kidding aside, WOW is the only word that comes to mind for me this Mother’s Day. I’m not sure what made this year’s holiday different, but I feel very compelled to give a huge shout out to other mothers today. I feel like belting out a great big THANK YOU…complete with song and dance (not to mention a few hugs!) But mostly, I just want you all to know that I see you and I really just couldn’t do this mothering thing without you.
Some have said that being a mother is the most important job on the planet. Something along the lines of “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” And there’s plenty more sayings out there to describe motherhood (and, believe it or not, most of them are favorable!) Still there’s nothing like being deep in the parenting trenches to remind you that you cannot do this alone. We need each other…sometimes desperately. I need you to be my eyes and ears, I need you to catch my kids doing good AND to give me the heads up when they make poor decisions. I need you to double-check our kids whereabouts and sleepover plans with me…because communicating in the tween/teen years can be difficult and responsibility/accountability are crucial. I need you to share advice and help me navigate through tough situations. And I need you to be loving examples, safe places, and trusted adults whom my kids can turn to, if needed. And I promise to do the same…because motherhood is an interesting club. It’s not necessarily hard to join (although I’m sensitive to the fact that it can be.) There’s no pre-mom exam. No age limit. No “green light.” Some of us fit in from the get go. Others clamor to get in. Some of us enter hesitantly, if not reluctantly. Many of us trudge through. And some of us never quite find our place. Regardless, once you’re in…YOU’RE IN. And there’s no guarantee of success in this club. There’s no real manual. No graduation. And sometimes, in spite of the numbers, it can be a pretty lonely place. I can’t speak for everybody, but for myself I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting into. Albeit the oldest of four, growing up in a very large extended family, having countless hours of babysitting under my belt and with a “mother hen” type personality…I never felt like I was ready. In fact, during my teen years and early twenties, I was pretty dead set against becoming a mother. I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that I wasn’t up for the task. At age 26, my son was born…and while this was a well thought out and planned event I still knew on some level that I had no idea what I was in for (despite all my research)–and I was right!
We all know that our bodies change when we have a child. Hormones fluctuate, things shift, etc., but what happens to your heart has to be the most remarkable, extraordinary change of all! While the other changes occur over a matter of months, it seems that your heart changes almost immediately. Your priorities change, your instincts change, your thought processes change…basically, what I’m trying to say here is that EVERYTHING changes. What I was really least prepared for was the general roller coaster ride of motherhood. The wins and the losses. The ups and the downs. I’m pretty much a planner (and a bit of a control freak) and motherhood is everything but a well-defined plan and you can throw any hope of control out the window. Plan A quickly moves through the alphabet to Plan Z, and in no set pattern. What works one day (and for one child) quickly falls to the wayside in lieu of something completely different for another child (or the same kiddo down the road.) Uggghhh.
So for all this (and so much more) I continue to look to you, fellow mothers. Without other mothers, I’m not sure where I would be. I’m grateful to have my own mother to serve as an example and a guide. Grateful for a mother-in-law who offers love and encouragement. Grateful for a sister, who lovingly mothers all the nieces and nephews and her own stepkids with a natural mothering gift. I’m grateful for sister-in-laws who treat my kids like their own. And I’m especially grateful for the mothers of my children’s friends, the “church” moms, the “teacher” moms, the “neighbor” moms and other mothers in my community. You all ROCK! BIG thanks for your kind hearts, for the rides to and from practices/games, for the driving them through the fast food line and including them in your family plans. Thank you for the birthday cakes, countless sleepovers, day trips and shopping excursions. Thanks for bridging the gap when our family schedules were overloaded. Thank you for sharing photos of my kids and yours just doing their thing. Thank you for the “Walmart Updates.” Thank you for not judging them harshly, for understanding that they are in a unique circumstance (as are most kids) and for offering them grace and love. Thank you for including them in your family life. And thank you for your example…often times it’s your own mothering actions that speak volumes.
So let’s forget the mom-shaming, the parenting peer pressure, and all the other nonsense. And instead, keep breathing life and love into each other’s kiddos. Keep talking, keep texting, keep cheering, keep showing up and keep vigilant. Please continue to keep your eyes open…looking out for my kids and others. Thank you for filling my ears (and heart) with bright spots that you see in my children. I see the same bright spots in your kiddos, too!
We truly are on each other’s team. Happy, happy Mother’s Day!
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25
If the title sounds like a command, I think you’re right. If you have any guesses as to how this pertains to my life…I’d love it if you’d clue me in! On its face “open the door” seems pretty straightforward, but since I got this word from the Holy Spirit, I know it has to be a little more (okay, a lot more) nuanced than that.
The message came to me a little more than a year ago. That’s a long time to ponder its exact meaning! At that moment, I thought it was a word of encouragement. You see my introverted nature is constantly trying to balance the fact that I live with three extroverts. So, I figured this was an assuring message about hospitality…a way to move me forward and out of my comfort zone. Satisfied with that, I went about my business and learned to better carve out some “introvert recharging time” for myself while welcoming the kiddos’ friends with open arms. And it worked. Our home is basically a mini version of Grand Central Station and (believe it or not) I’m actually good with it. My kids have really great friends…tweens/teens that I enjoy having at our house, kids who are positive influences for my babies and are all around good people. Score, right? That’s what I thought, too!
Still, the command wasn’t satisfied. Hmmm…what now? I tried to push it to the back of my mind. If it was really important, the answer would reveal itself. Nope. So, after much more consideration, I arrived at a new conclusion. It wasn’t so much about letting someone/something IN…it was about letting someone/something OUT. I was holding my children back. That had to be it. I was “s-mothering” them! (That’s smothering and mothering at the same time!) Of course. I’m a little overprotective, a little too available, a little too quick to solve their problems. I’ll admit it, I am my own “afterschool special.” To remedy the situation I tried to take a step back (just a little.) I understand that independence is an important part of growing up. Maybe I didn’t need to be fully enmeshed, just engaged. Yes, that’s it-ENGAGED. Mystery solved. (Feel free to start laughing at me now.)
Wrong again, I tried to push this edict away. Burdensome, that’s what this was. I had no idea what the answer could be and honestly, I didn’t want to be bothered by it anymore. We were busy. We were overscheduled. I was tired. It was summer and the days were hot, long and full. I didn’t have time for this. I’d already given the subject so much thought and prayer. The answer was not coming and I began to doubt the message. Surely, I had heard it wrong. If this was for me, then there was obviously something that I was missing. So I put it on a “spiritual shelf.” I’d deal with it in the fall….
Fall came and went. We rolled into winter and the message remained the same. From the “spiritual shelf,” I could still hear it calling me. And I still had no idea how to respond. It wasn’t until after the holidays that a (or another) new thought occurred to me. Perhaps, this was more personal. Maybe, I needed to go “outside?” Take a chance? What if there was something that I personally needed to take care of? Could this message be calling me to open the door and step out in faith?
I thought about a job search, looking into starting some sort of side business, and even going back to school to earn a master’s degree. I stepped back from some volunteer commitments and ventured into new volunteer opportunities. In the past, this type of itch has been satisfied through creativity…so I began baking up a storm, photographing everything in sight, playing the piano, sewing, daydreaming, reading, writing, etc. And…nothing. Nada. Zilch.
When something weighs heavily on your heart, it’s really hard to put it “away.” I know I’m not the only one who’s ever been here. There’s a reason why we can’t “run” from our problems. The Bible speaks to it (just ask Jonah) and we all probably have countless personal anecdotes about trying to “run” when things get sticky or uncomfortable. And I wholeheartedly believe that there’s a reason God has whispered (and occasionally shouted) this command to me. I just wish I knew what it was.
In the meantime, I’m actively waiting. Understanding that prayer is answered with YES, NO, GROW and my least favorite–WAIT. I know that I have nothing to complain about. Life is good. We are well. God is with us. In this waiting season (yes, I’m learning to better practice patience,) I’m trying hard to be fully present. This is more difficult than it sounds as I waiver between feeling apathetic and restless to energized and eager. It’s a situation that I’m not used to and one that I’m certainly not prepared for. I didn’t ask for change…and maybe that’s what this is all about. Yet, I know and trust that there is a purpose. Knock. Knock.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
Are we not all desperate one way or another? Taylor Caldwell, author
The funny thing about standing on the edge is that there’s typically little to no warning that you’re about to go over. No countdown. No alert system. I usually only realize that I’ve arrived at this point when one foot is dangling and the other is making every crazy attempt to stay planted. It’s a dance I’ve seen countless times and one that I’m not proud of.
Lately, this idea of desperation has been rearing its ugly head in all kinds of places. I see it everywhere–in my home, overheard at the grocery store, on television/radio, it’s become a mainstay on social media, I hear it in the voices of my closest loved ones and it even stares back at me from the bathroom mirror. It’s become practically inescapable and totally overwhelming. And it appears to be the new norm.
What I hate most about desperation is that it clouds decision-making, muddies our sense of right and wrong, and worst of all causes us to say/do things we (should) almost immediately regret (although that’s not always the case.) And “desperation” has become so incredibly clever. Nowadays, it masks itself as “urgency,” “FoMO” (fear of missing out) and even “self-righteousness”…often times creating an anxiety that holds us captive. This type of desperation not only leaves us hopeless but it creates fear, anger, and sadness. Desperation puts us in situations we could have never imagined…poisoning ourselves and everything around us. Numb and cowering like a defenseless animal, we can only respond by lashing out at one another or internalizing our darkest fears. When these feelings reach their peak, one is left feeling incredibly alone. And yet, we keep coming back to the same well. Doing the same things. Repeating this frantic pattern over and over.
Where is the faith, the peace, the hope? As a Christian, I think it’s in the same place it’s always been–Jesus. I’ve noticed that as our culture continues to distance itself from God…the only truly content people I can find are those who consider themselves followers of Christ. In fact, one of the reasons I was so drawn to Christianity was the sense of peace that Jesus offers. Picture the most devout person you know and I’m willing to bet that person just exudes peace. Shining, content, grace-filled peace…in abundance. The kind of peace we hope to capture for ourselves.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that peace is elusive…only attainable after years of practice. We’ve been told that peace is for the enlightened, those who have achieved some higher level learning. We’ve been advised that peace is for the naive. And we’ve been warned that peace simply cannot exist. And I think that’s exactly what the world wants us to believe.
There are no quick answers here, only prayer. Distancing ourselves from desperation requires discipline and personal growth. I imagine it’s a lifelong endeavor, but one well worth every effort. I refuse to drink from the world’s cup and fall prey to these desperate times. I will continue to seek out those whose grace-filled examples serve as encouragement and inspiration. And I fully plan to surround myself with only His perfect peace.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13