The post in which I simply write what came to mind for my daughter

Yesterday morning I was sitting at my kitchen table and my 17-year-old daughter came up behind me and asked “Mom, have you blogged in a while?”

“Um, no”

“Well, you should. I really like reading your posts.”

Now, for those of you who don’t have teenagers, when a teen says something like that, you listen.  When a teen is reaching out and wants to communicate, you respond.

So here I am, trying to think of a brilliant, insightful, meaningful post. Something that will impart some kind of profound life lesson on my daughter and the three other people who read this blog.

And you know what…I got nothin’.

I think the harder I try to be wise or influential, the more fake I sound. And there is nothing I hate worse than sounding fake. I want my family and friends to know that I genuinely care about them, even if I don’t always express it well. My compliments often sound empty, and I am a lousy gift-giver (I’m lookin’ at you, beer-making kit that I bought my husband 3 Christmases ago and has moved to 3 different houses without being opened.)

There are some people who have a way with words that make the rest of us drop our jaws and exclaim “That is exactly how I feel.  I just never knew how to say it!” The late Maya Angelou, who passed away earlier this week, was one of these people.

And there are other people who simply seem born with talent or at least discover their talents early enough in life to develop them into lifelong careers or passions. We all secretly want to be one of these people: someone who knows his or her purpose, discovers his or her talent, and develops it to the level of a divine art.

And yet, we rarely see the struggle, pain, and hard work that leads up to these accomplishments. We see the shiny, polished surface that these people present to the world: the perfectly edited and published book, the magnificently sculpted muscle tone on a fitness model, the perfectly lit and positioned photograph, the amazingly straight and tight spiral on a football . But underneath all these things are years of bruises, headaches, fatigue, arguments with family members, bills that need to be paid, demands from employers, children, neighbors, extended family, etc. Namely, there is life to be lived.

What we often fail to realize is that no one does it all. The folks who excel in one or two areas often failed in many others, or at least they struggled in other areas. I have never seen a painting by Pavarotti. I have never seen Michael Jordan host his own cooking show on the Food Network. I have never read a book written by Mozart or heard of any great military feats that Shakespeare accomplished.

Nobody is talented at everything. But we often compare our own weaknesses with the gifts of others. And we downplay our own gifts as if they were common and that everyone has them.

Please don’t do that. Where would our world of art be if Pablo Picasso lamented that he wasn’t good at chemistry or algebra?  And so what if Einstein couldn’t sing or sew?

Find what you enjoy doing and do that as well as you can. If you know your calling or your talents, develop them, and don’t flounder, wishing you had someone else’s talents. If you don’t know, that’s okay too, even if you are 40, 60, or 80 years old. If you are still alive, you have a purpose and something to give to the world.

But whatever you do, do NOT fall prey to the traps of envy, jealousy, and despair.  YOU are where you are supposed to be. But you have a choice…you can  squander the gifts and talents you were given, or you can develop them into a gift for the world.

(And I’ll tell you a little secret: even if you squander them, you still have a chance to live an important, meaningful, fulfilling life. Have you ever heard of the “prodigal son”?)

So, dear daughter, I blogged for you this morning. This is just an unedited outpouring of what came to mind as I started writing. Hopefully there is a nugget of value here for you.

And if not, that’s okay…there’s always next time.

 

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Well, it has happened!  I have received my first “award” as a blogger. Okay, really it’s kind of a fun little game/award/sharing kind of thing, but I am over the moon about it! (It means someone besides my husband and my mom has actually read my blog. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure my mom has read it yet. And I’m pretty sure hubby only reads it to make sure I’m not exposing and deep dark secrets.)

A gal I don’t even know, but who writes a really cute “mommy blog” called Mommyhooddom, nominated my little blog here for this award.  How cool is that?   Thank you, Jennifer! Seriously…go check out her blog if you have small children (or even if you don’t but need a reminder or a warning about what it is like to have small children!)

Anyway, this award is called the Liebster Award. It’s a way for up-and-coming bloggers to share, connect, and learn more about each other.

Liebster_Award_Logo

In order to accept a Liebster Award, here’s how it works:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and answer the questions they presented. Check.

2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you. Check.

3. Copy & paste the pink Liebster Award logo to your blog. Check.

4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award who have less than 3,000 followers. Create a new list of 11 questions for them. Check.

5. Inform them of their nomination. Check.

So, here are the answers to the questions I was asked.  (Don’t judge me.)

1. What’s your favorite animal and why?     Goat. Now stick with me here. My daughters raised lambs and goats for 4-H to sell at the county fair. The goat was as sweet as any dog I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some very sweet dogs), but it was an outdoor animal (yay for no fur to vacuum!) and having to bottle feed him as a baby…in the winter in Alaska, mind you…and raise him really taught my daughter a lot about responsibility and caring for those weaker than herself. He was as loyal as any Labrador Retriever and had a way of calming everyone in the family when we went outside to take care of him after school or work.

2. Do you cry when a sad song comes on the radio? Which song(s)?   Only for a few days out of the month. And then it is the sloppy, ugly, snotty cry. I don’t do the cute little “tear at the corner of my eye” thing. I’m part Irish and part Italian, for Pete’s sake!  The songs change as my life changes. Nowadays I bawl over any song that has to do with kids growing up and moving away, especially “Letting Go” the 1991 song by Suzy Bogguss. And as a proud Army wife, the Star-Spangled Banner gets me every time (except for when celebrities slaughter it, which has me spew tears of fury!)

3. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?     Tough one here. I want people to say that I was an example to them of a woman who really lived her life rather than just existing. I want to be known as someone who worked hard, loved harder, and made a difference not only in her family, but in the world.

4. What has been your top professional or personal accomplishment to date?  This one is going to make me cry. I could say the ever-politically-correct “Oh, my children are my greatest accomplishment.” And they are, in a sense. Without my children or husband, nothing else I accomplish will matter. But I, like most women I know, have a desire to accomplish something beyond the realm of family. Probably my greatest one to date is running the Army 10-miler in Washington D.C. last year (running the whole way) and finishing in the top half of my age group.

5. How much money could you spend at the mall in one day? What would you buy?     Ugh. I hate shopping…especially at a mall.  Still, if I had it to spend, I could easily spend thousands of dollars on home décor, high end clothing, shoes, and electronics. And then I would hit the brew pub at the end of the mall and drown my buyer’s remorse in a pint or four of Guinness.

6. Do you floss every day?   Because I hope my dentist will someday read this blog, I am going to plead the fifth.

7. Describe your ideal mate.

  Daddy and Maggie

8. Have you ever had a speeding ticket? When, where?  Nope!

9. What is your favorite condiment? What food(s) do you put it on?  Salsa. Chips, eggs, and veggies.

10. How did you REALLY feel when you found out you WON the LIEBSTER AWARD!  “Cool. What the heck is the Liebster Award? Do I get cash?”

11. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?  It’s my outlet to just talk about whatever I find pressing or important or interesting. My theme centers around goal-setting and achieving one’s goals as a means to live out one’s purpose in life. Obviously it is still taking shape, but I love the freedom. I also love the networking that happens…being able to share my ideas with people I would never meet otherwise.

And now, for my Liebster nominees:

Morgan from Modern Mommyhood

Constance Smith from The Foodie Army Wife

Heather McCoubrey from Romantic Escapes

Dawn Yanek from Momsanity

and The Mom in Black (whose name I don’t know!)

Alright folks, here are your questions:

1.   What is your favorite adult beverage?

2.   What is one thing you would like to study/learn that you haven’t done yet?

3.   Where would you like to visit and who would you take with you?

4.   What is your favorite book?

5.   How did you get into blogging?

6.   What social issue is most important to you?

7.   What did you want to do with your life when you were 16?

8.   What is one talent do you have that would surprise your friends and family?

9.   Do you speak any other languages than English? If so, which one(s)?

10. What are you afraid of and why?

11.  Boxers or briefs?

Proud Blogging Mama

Q. What makes a blogging mom oh so excited?

A. One of her kids starting his own blog to discuss the things he loves.

My 13-yo son just started Saints and Sports, a blog that follows two of his passions…and I don’t think I have to tell you what they are.

Now, like his mother, Michael is still in the learning phases of blogging. I’m sure the format and content will evolve over time.  But I am ecstatic that he is making a go of sharing his knowledge and passion for these topics with the world.

So please, take a minute, click on the link and check out Saints and Sports and give him a shout out for trying something new!

Finding My Focus

This might be stating the obvious, but I have not solidified the focus of this blog yet. Many fellow bloggers have laser focus on a particular part of life. For example, one of my favorite bloggers writes about food and life as an Army wife. Therefore, her blog is called the TheFoodieArmyWife.com. Another writes about kids and mothering. Hers is called RantsFromMommyland.com.

So, I am trying to narrow my focus as well. Up until now, I have really just written about anything that happens to be on my mind at the time. I’m sure I will continue to do that a bit. After all, its MY blog.

But, I want you to get something out of it as well. I want you to be able to take something away and not feel that your time spent on my  intellectually stimulating, professionally astute articles is well-spent. (Did you catch the self-deprecating sarcasm there? Oh good.)

So, in the interest of providing something of value to you, I will start sharing things that have proven valuable to me in my pursuit of what I want to do “when I grow up.”

One of my favorite quotes comes from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. I have never read any of his work, but I often hear him quoted by one of my favorite authors/speakers, Dave Ramsey.  Jones says ““You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things:  the people with whom you associate and the books you read.”

So what are you reading? I think it is important to always be reading something inspirational, something professional, and something fun. Each of these areas of life is important to helping us stay whole and balanced. It doesn’t matter how fast you read, just read.

Audiobooks are a great resource as well. For a busy taxi mom like me, audiobooks allow me to “read” while doing housework, picking up kids from school, and waiting for them at practices (Just please don’t listen to the 50 Shades series with your 10 year old in the car. I don’t know why I felt the need to write that last sentence, but there it is. Just don’t do it.);

I digress. Right now I am listening to Finding Your Element by Sir Ken Robinson. I had never heard of this guy and just stumbled upon his book while perusing Audible.com. But apparently he has a crazy huge following from TED talks.

I’ll let you know what I thought of the book when I am done. But it seems like a great inspirational read so far.

As for “fun,” I am reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I am not as enthralled with it as my teenage daughters (and apparently the rest of America) were, but it’s an easy read. Still trying to decide if I am going to finish it.

So, I would love to know what you are reading that is helping you reach your personal goals. Do you read to learn? To relax? To be inspired? All of the above?