Oh the flowery words I should have said…

After cutting my youngest son’s hair this week I told him to take off his shirt before hitting the shower. Hair spread clear across the floor from my kitchen to his bathroom is the last thing I need. But when he pulled off his shirt, I noticed a large lump on his back. One I’d never seen before, and I’m a wrestling mom, so I see his naked back pretty often while he takes his singlet straps off and on between matches.

It takes a couple of days to get into the doctor, but I keep pretending like it’s no big deal. His little imagination has already decided the worst, so it’s up to me to keep a level head.

In the office, the doctor lists off three possibilities for the lump. Two are not life threatening. The last option is not good.

“The only way to know for sure is to open him up and look,” the doctor says prodding the spot some more.

“What?” My son pushes up from where he lays on the exam table. “You mean like right now?”

The doctor nods. “Unless you want a dermatologist to do it, but you’re going to have a scar either way.”

My son goes into panic mode, trying to escape out of the room. I push him back down on the table.

“Quit being a wuss. We need to know what this is.”

My son survived the procedure, and the doctor confirmed that is wasn’t cancer but a fatty tumor. He removed it, stitched him back up, and we were on our way home.

In the car, my son says, “Why do you have to be so mean?”

“I’m not mean. Do you really think I’d let the doctor cut you open if I didn’t trust him? I would never let anybody hurt you if I didn’t think it wasn’t for your benefit.”

He crossed his arms and looked away. “Maybe you should have said it that way instead of calling me a wuss.”

I rolled my eyes. If only my life worked like my stories. I could hit delete a thousand times until everything I said held the perfect weight of words choice and clarity. But sadly, I have to function within whatever moments life throws at me. And in that moment, ‘quit being a wuss,’ felt right.

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The negative will eat you alive

I had a recent conversation with a young woman about being happy. She claimed that society and the world in general is so awful now it wasn’t possible to find anymore. She could list more than a dozen things wrong or unfair, probably more if I had let her go on. I stopped her in the middle of her tirade.

“I don’t disagree about the things you’ve pointed out, but there is also a lot of good in the world too.”

She didn’t even considered my words, going right back to the many complaints she thought cancelled out any good. I wish her well but I worry about her mental health. A constant focus on the negative in our life drains our capacity to cope with the many challenges we face. It is better to put your energy into seeing the good. Trust me—the bad doesn’t need your constant focus to thrive. You, on the other hand, won’t survive if all you see is doom and gloom around you.

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Letting go of the know-it-all

I recently heard a speaker say something not only funny but profound. She said, “Yeah, in my teenage years I knew everything, but as I got older, I realized it was too exhausting to keep up.”

What a statement. It really hits on an aspect of know-it-alls that I hadn’t considered. Said person must produce an endless supply of effort to keep up the façade of knowing everything. Ugh, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. After that day I’ve found myself much more comfortable with saying, “I don’t know,” than I ever had before. Maybe you will too if this has been one of your struggles in life.

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Likeable

Growing-up, I never thought I assessed my worth by outside affirmations, until my ninth grade English class. Assigned a seat next to the new boy in school, I wanted to make a good impression. No girls, it’s not because I thought he was cute. My parents had drilled the idea of always using good manners.  Yet, from day one, this kid despised me.

After he called me a “know-it-all” under his breath for answering a teacher’s question, I never spoke again unless the teacher called on me. When he complained that I smelled, I brought extra deodorant to school and ran into the bathroom to re-apply before English class every day. When he wrinkled his nose and said my frizzy hair was getting all over his stuff, I began pulling my “frizzy” hair back into a ponytail before class. It didn’t matter what I did or said, nothing made this boy like me—or at least lower the level of disdain I saw whenever his eyes met mine.

One day, when I’d had enough. I caught him after class and asked, “What did I do to you?  Why don’t you like me?”

He shook me off and said, “Look in the mirror—you’ll figure it out.”

I did figure it out—allowing this boy’s judgments to dictate to my actions was stupid. I can’t change who I am. This realization liberated me from the many snide remarks I heard from him in the years that followed.

Unfortunately, in this life, not everyone will like you. Sometimes personalities just don’t mesh. But the only person who really counts, is the one staring back to you in the mirror.  When you choose to accept and love yourself as you are, nothing and no one can drag you down.

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Recruit for the battle of life

It’s not wrong to desire and work at strengthening your inner self. No one can answer that ever burning question of what makes up you—but you. However, we are not meant to live this life as solitary creatures, nor is it weakness to lean on others from time to time. Trust me, those who know me will tell you I’m a pretty strong and opinionated woman, but even I can’t do this whole living thing alone. Really, I have no desire to do it alone. By letting others into your life, their support can become like bracers for your own. For those days when you just don’t know what to choose, others might be able to offer you a different point of view, which might lead to greater clarity. When it comes to making choices, greater clarity is never a bad thing. Yes, there are those that might not have your best interest at heart, but that is still not a good reason to push everyone away. It takes time to weed out the bad and create solid friendships around you, so start now. You want those friendships forged before the crisis comes.

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Wishing will never be useful

Nothing you want in life happens by accident. The singer you revere on the radio, the movie star you love to watch, that incredible athlete everyone talks about, those people didn’t get there by accident. Success, however you want to define yours, will never be achieved by hoping for it. A sacrifice is always required, whether it be physical or emotional, those who reach their goals gave up something. So when you’re setting all those New Year’s resolutions, go beyond the wishful thoughts of things you want to happen in your life. Take a moment to consider what you are willing to give up to achieve said goal. The more you are willing to “bleed” for your desires, the better your chances. The path of least resistance is littered with mediocracy. You’ll find the harder path far more satisfying in the end.

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A gift worth striving for

This Christmas give yourself a gift beyond measure. Forgive those who have wronged you. Not just for the day, but forever. Let it go, the anger, the hurt you’ve been lugging around. It’s expending far too much of your focus and energy. The “let it go” part is the most crucial. Burying it only until “next time” isn’t forgiveness at all. And you won’t experience the freeing power that comes from truly moving on. If what I ask seems too unfair for what has happened to you, remember you are not perfect. We all have hurt others, whether by omission or on purpose, being forgiven is the only way to ease the guilt of our actions. But we can’t control others, only ourselves. So start from within, and I promise the power will spread throughout.

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