Friday Fun

Ready to Re-On-Vay

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“It’s time to re-on-vay…”

This is the phrase that my best friend Kelsey whispers to me every time we go on vacation together.

“Re-on-vay” is short for “let’s relax on vacation and let’s not say the whole sentence because we are too relaxed to finish it.”

Our families have been doing the re-on-vay together for almost ten years. What a blessing to find another set of people just as dysfunctional as we are who get along well enough to travel together. They tolerate my need to be at the airport at the butt-crack of dawn and I tolerate their need to do things that involve deep water and sea sickness.

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So friends, we are off to someplace paradise for a while with my bestie and her husband as well as another fun couple making their first trip to the tropics. Even though the homestead will be in good hands with Grandma and Grandpa (and 5 dogs) I’ve got the pre-vacation jitters as I try to prepare both of my kids to tackle situations I’d normally micromanage if I were here. As difficult as it is for me to leave them and the always-a-gnat-in-my-ear responsibilities, I’m old enough to know that this quality time with BD and friends is a much-needed reboot and kick in the pants as well as an opportunity to grant some independence to Tanna and Dane.

And, before you get the urge to throw snowballs at my head, let me provide a little gift for you. I know that this time of year can be stressful, so hop over to Brene’ Brown’s site and read this short article, “The show must go on. But at what cost?” It was exactly what I needed yesterday when I found myself drowning in a pile of Christmas lists, bills, work assignments and high school wrestling schedules.

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Now pop an umbrella in your hot chocolate, throw in some ear buds and escape from the self-inflicted chaos with my playlist. Perhaps you can re-on-vay today, too.

Psst: The Kenny Chesney sandwich is just for you, Christy. xo

Adventures in Imperfection

Bruises

So often we see our bruises as markers for bad memories, mistakes or poor decisions. I view them as reminders of grand adventures, unraveling laughter and lessons I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

My best stories are often inspired from the black, blue and yellow marks on my knees or head (and my heart).

These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses, we all got bruises
We all got bruises

~Lyrics by Pat Monahan

How often do we forget to be joyful in the face of struggle? To hide our emotional battle scars and bandage over the wounds with futile attempts and masks.

To cover up our bruises.

We all got bruises–it’s okay to let them show.

Adventures in Imperfection · Inspirational People

yes! Yes! YEs! YES! OH GAWD YES!

Admit it.
The promise of something a little raunchier decorating the typical sunshine and kittens MamaMick post grabbed you for a bit, right?
Even if you didn’t play the video, you recognize the scene from “When Harry met Sally” where Sally convincingly fakes a public orgasm.
Sorry to disappoint. This post is not about sex (not really), not about orgasms (nope!) and nothing fake (definitely not!). This is the second post in the series People who inspire me and it’s about a personal friend of mine who actually resembles Meg Ryan–you need to hear her story.

Susanne is a long-time friend and co-worker who lives several cold states away in a different time zone. She’s the one who has talked me down off the ledge too many times to count and I’ve done the same for her. Long before the words graced every internet meme or outgoing e-mail signature, she introduced our close-knit team to the phrase, “Keep Calm and Carry On” followed quickly by, “Keep Calm and Break S%^t!”

Our team had heard about Susanne before meeting her. As we were all entering into a new job role in parallel geographies, she was struck with a brain aneurysm soon after giving birth to her twins. We’d bonded before meeting because I couldn’t quit thinking about her, worrying about her and wondering what her babies were doing at home while mama was in ICU. Happy story short, she recovered, returned to work and mothering double time and a half.  Susanne is a healthy and amazing mom to four kiddos under the age of 12 and happily married 20 years to her hot husband.

Susanne would never describe herself as anyone special or interesting. Humble to a fault, she exudes grace, intelligence, calm and professionalism–a full meal deal that’s difficult to find in our cutthroat industry.

But, at the end of last year and beginning of this one, something happened.

Something good. The conservative, warm and loving woman I’ve known went Princess Leia on me! For the first time, she was letting the world finally see the Susanne I’ve always known was there. Her words, her contributions, her actions all smacked ass of confidence, purposeful vulnerability and authenticity. She has become the poster child for “showing up and being seen.”

Susanne

And I’m totally stealing her thunder.

What prompted this post was a couple of text messages and e-mails she sent to me sharing the metamorphosis she was experiencing. An evolution she was imposing, creating and causing. She’d been working on her Vision Board,  buying tickets to see her new favorite band (The 1975) and getting called cute by hot guys at the mall (she was in piggy tails, duh!)

When she sent me her Facebook post, it all made sense:

January 1,2014. There was a knock at my door. I answered it and to my surprise, there she was, my midlife crisis!

She was standing there with arms open wide offering a soft shoulder to cry on. I went willingly to her and we spent 4 glorious days together in my bed before my husband so rudely interrupted us asking if I was coming back to the land of the living.

I begrudgingly got out of bed and decided that 2014 will be my year of “YES”. Saying yes to new adventures/opportunities first then worry about the details later. So far so good!

My midlife crisis is still here, we’ve shared some good and not so good moments of hashing and rehashing my past, present and future and I’m not sure how long she plans on staying but in many ways I’m grateful she came to visit, even though she didn’t need to bitch slap me so hard.

I’m awake now and ready for my year of YES! Bring it on!

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Knowing this was my chance to grab blog content, I quickly asked her for the following and received the positive responses:

  • Feature of her paragraph on my blog (YES!)
  • A picture of her vision board (YES!)
  • A picture of her son’s vision board (YES!)
  • A picture of her beautiful face (okay, well…Yes, since I’m supposed to say yes)

Susanne’s words, vision board and bravery gave me the platform I’d been looking for to address the often unseen chronic disease that invades a person, a marriage, or a family without warning.

Forever a Brene’ Brown disciple, I took a quote from her book Wholehearted: Adventures in Growing Up, Falling Apart and Finding Joy by Brene’ Brown

“Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. The time has come to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

Midlife: When the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not f-ing around, use the gifts you were given”

For the friends and family of Susanne reading this, she wanted to assure everyone that “saying yes and figuring it out later” does not mean you’ll see her engaging in risky behavior like drugs, random hook-ups or adopting a new litter of puppies.

Special thanks to Susanne for letting me share this with you. It’s only a glimpse into the awesome woman she really is. She has the bravery to let her voice be heard when it would be easier and less scary to squash it down, stay obedient and be forever silent and safe.

Let’s crash that party and kick some midlife butt!

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Adventures in Imperfection · Completely Random · Music While You Wait · Short and Sweet

Blowin’ Smoke

Sharing one of my very favorite songs from artist Kacey Musgraves–a country cutie who ain’t afraid to get after it.

Remember how I promised Friday Favorites up next? Um yeah.

It’s going to take a little longer than a few days to do any justice to your favorite things. Let me be honest; the day job has taken over this week, I’m going to the P!nk concert tonight and the Soldier post from yesterday completely drained me emotionally. Nothing better than a blogger with baggage, right?

Talk amongst yourselves about your daawgs and your daawghters and give me till next week?

And the next time you see me put the gauntlet of a deadline out there, remember…

I’m just blowin’ smoke….

A Little More Serious · Adventures in Imperfection

We’re Dealing with a lot of S*$#!

We interact with strangers, family and friends within the foggy haze of what’s going on behind the scenes in our lives and theirs. Stuff in other people’s lives that we don’t know about unless we sense it, ask about it or experience it first hand.
In this video scene, Kevin Costner gets to the core of what we deal with in our most basic human interactions. It’s when we are knee-deep in our own crap that we might forget about our kid’s crap, our co-worker’s crap, our spouse’s crap and stuff-that-isn’t-our-business crap. It’s no wonder we can’t always effectively communicate  with the ones we love.

Other than finding ways to creatively injure myself, I’m not naturally good anything.   Always a benchwarmer and never on the court, I often complain to my dear hubby that I don’t have the skills that come so easily to him and my kids. That being said, I do have one unique talent and it has everything to do with what we are talking about today.

I see people. I see more than what meets the eye.

I can assess their spirit and quickly learn their life story by launching into an interrogation posed in a way that the person doesn’t even realize what’s happening. It’s not unusual to see me peppering a person with questions all the while becoming completely enthralled and absorbed in who they are. Don’t be nervous if you feel like I’ve done this to you–it’s such a part of who I am  and don’t even consciously notice when it happens.  I love to study friends and family alike with a genuine interest fostered by  cat- like curiosity.

It would be arrogant of me to call this a natural ability, because it’s a practiced talent that I’ve purposely honed with years of trial and error. Kinda like going out and hitting a bucket balls on the driving range everyday–a person gets better with repetition. I discovered early in life that it was in my own selfish best- interest to be able to read people and know the crap that they were dealing with so that I could dodge the balls and reap the benefits.

This skill has made me a natural negotiator, peacekeeper and empathetic know-just-enough-to-be-dangerous faux therapist. Even as a fifth grader, I knew that by asking the right questions, recognizing body language and understanding what wasn’t verbalized, I could read parents, teachers, and friends  to quickly identify hot buttons. I could sense a general mood in order to find ways to keep people happy, off of my back and most importantly—ensure that they were not mad at me.

How many times have you thought/worried that you were the cause of another person’s bad mood? That feeling of being unsettled and rattled as you poured over the last interactions, “Was it something I said?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Why are they so distant? Did I screw up again?”

I’ve been right there with you. It took a few years and some near-fatal mistakes before I finally figured out that most of the time, people’s bad moods, disengagement and sadness typically had NOTHING to do with me.

What? I’m not the center of the Universe? Who knew!?!

This new insight was liberating and dangerous all at once. Liberating because I could banish the worry that I was the source of their irritation. Dangerous because I thought that since I could see people, that I could also fix people. Like I had been granted Super Power Fixing Skills  that even Napoleon Dynamite didn’t have.

Friends, family and strangers—no one has been safe from my helpful tendencies and many of you reading this have been my unsuspecting victims. Fortunately, you guys are also extremely forgiving and have given me more than enough second chances to get it right.

And this is the part I’ve been trying to get to. All these previous paragraphs of pontificating and really–I just wanted  to thank you. Thank you for the times you let me into the most personal and private places in your life–I treasure the relationships that have given me the gift of knowing you better. I especially thank you for the times you kept me humble, reminded me that life is bigger than what’s right in front of us and for the times you read right through my own crap.

• Thanks to the young woman letting her kids run wild at the Jiffy Lube while she talked on the phone.
I wanted to take your baby and hold her while you tended to your wild toddler. I wanted to give you all of my cash so that you could buy yourself a shirt and pair of jeans that fit…but, old age and acquired wisdom stepped in and somehow, I refrained from a fake laugh and condescending piece of advice. Thank you for teaching me that a warm smile and a kind, genuine comment about your pretty baby was enough to momentarily take your mind off of the fact that you have no help at home, that finances were tight and that you worry about your busy, active toddler. The amazing smile you gave me back to me taught me volumes about the resilient human spirit and I’m forever thankful for your life lesson.

• Thank you to my dear friends—strong, brave individuals who wouldn’t hesitate to hide a body for me if I needed it.

Thank you for teaching me that it’s okay to ask what’s wrong but not be offended when you won’t tell me. That it’s okay to offer help and not be hurt if the offer is never called upon. Many of you are taking care of kids and parents and households and classrooms all at the same time with just enough energy to fall into bed exhausted at day’s end.  Maybe you worry about the future and how you’ll handle your kids leaving the nest. You might struggle with the guilt of spending just another minute away from the family you love because you are too busy providing for them at a job that demands your full attention and time for longer than the 40 hours you are paid for.

You need my understanding, not whining, and certainly not my crap! Most importantly, I’ve learned that you will call me when you really need me and I’ll be there with my own shovel and backhoe if that’s what it takes.

• For the stranger behind the check-out counter, at the airport, at the grocery store, on the other end of the phone at the IT Help desk.
You are dealing with things I will never know about all while putting on a happy-ish face for the public. You project and deliver your sapped spirit and negative energy over to me without being aware of it. The hanging shoulders, tired eyes and smile that says nothing and everything all at once. I’ll accept your negative energy with understanding and empathy and give you back any bit of positive energy that I woke up with that morning–I usually have some to spare.

• To my family: Scott, Tanna and Dane
For the times when I’ve given too much of this positive energy away… purposefully; to friends, strangers, and even people on the other end of the phone that I can’t see. I’m sorry. Sorry that I’m zapped when I get home and too tired to speak or engage or be present because what should have been reserved for you was given to someone else. Sorry for the times that I’ve disappeared into the bathtub looking like something that should be cast in the Tales of the Crypt only to emerge a cleaned up version of The Walking Dead.

Of all the people I should see, you are often the folks that I don’t.

To BD: I’m sorry that I completely missed, for the tenth time in a row, that you just got your hair cut and that you are still the handsome man I married 22 years ago.
To Dane-man: I’m sorry for the times I mistook your 13-year-old irritability for a poor attitude when it was really just a bad day in the trenches of the middle school battlefield.
For Tanna Banana: I’m so sorry that I didn’t hear your real words the first four times you told me you wanted move to a college closer to home. I’m supposed to be good at this and some days I can’t even read the people I love the very most.

I said at the beginning of the Imperfection Series that these stories would be lighthearted and any lessons learned would completely accidental. I do apologize for this heavier subject, but something/Someone prompted me to write this today and I couldn’t do anything else until I took care of it.

We wage internal and external battles every day and feel the isolation and helplessness an insurmountable problem can divvy up.
Look around, be aware, read people and know that you are not alone. The happiest smiles hide the deepest pain, the loudest laughter suppresses the hurt, and those tired, weary eyes are just looking for a little understanding.

We are all dealing with a lot of shit here.

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Up next: Favorite Things: Reader’s Challenge. Come back on Friday because I have a fun JOB for my friendly readers.

Friday Fun

From My Heart to Yours–It’s just a little heart attack…

A little “Friday Fun” for you. Take a peek at this awesome video from the Go “Red for Women” 2013 campaign.
It’s funny, short and sweet with no reading required. Maybe it’ll save the heart of a woman you love.
Directed and starring Elizabeth Banks

Thanks for stopping!
MamaMick

Up next: We are dealing with a lot of s*%$ here!