Wiping a slate clean despite others

Everyone you meet has a past. That past is most likely filled with mistakes. Some of them might even look huge and horrible to an outsider looking in, but a mistake, no matter how big, doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. People grow, people change—just having life experiences guarantees this to be true. The hardest part is realizing that sometimes not everyone will believe these natural changes that happen to you over time. It’s often others who are witnesses to our past that refuse to allow us to grow. To them you might always be seen as the liar, the cheat, the gossiper, or a host of other faults that can be overcome.

Don’t let these people be the reason you give up on bettering yourself. So what if they never believe you. There is no such prerequisite of approval from others required before someone can improve themselves. The world is full of judgment, but when it comes to you, the only judgement that matters is your own. So if you want to wipe some of those slates in your life clean and start over—do it.

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Oh…a Duh!

There’s something about being comfortable in situations that tends to lead me into hilarious mistakes. This past week I was asked to lead the music for a congregation of people. The patriotic music and already been chosen by someone else, but I was fine by that, I’ve always loved patriotic music.

So there I stand singing and waving my arm about, having a good old time. Well, the last song just happened to be the National Anthem—a song I have sung acapella probably a hundred times for various sporting events. It’s hard for person like me not to get cocky with that kind of comfort level. I didn’t even bother to look at the music for almost the entire first verse. But as I’m swinging my arm I can tell my arm-motion is off, I’m not hitting the top of each measure right. To people who don’t know music this probably wouldn’t bother you, but it was the weirdest sensation for me to keep singing although the 4/4 time of my arm was off. I finally look down at the top of the music and see that it is written in 3/4 time. I’d just gone almost the entire first verse in the wrong meter time. This gave me such a fit of giggles I struggled to finish the next two verses with the kind of dignity the National Anthem deserves.

It just goes to show—no matter how expert you think you are—it’s always a good idea to check the instructions at least once.

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One-sided love

One of the hardest truths about relationships is just because you like someone doesn’t mean they will ever like you back. My fifteen-year-old daughter has been tortured by this truth for a couple of years now. He was her first, real crush—but he chose to like a close friend of hers instead. To look at my daughter you would think she didn’t care, but I’ve lived with her long enough to know what her long stretches of silence mean. She’s pretty chatty until she’s upset, then she burrows deep inside herself until she’s ready to come out again.

I wish I could promise her this will never happen again, but I can’t. Other people’s hearts can’t, nor should they, be controlled. When I think back to my younger years and all the pain I experienced for liking boys, part of me thinks it might be better if she stayed burrowed inside herself forever. But then I think of my husband, and the joy I’ve had being married for these last twenty years. Yeah, a lost first crush is never a reason to give up entirely—not even the second or third. Really, if you don’t want to be alone forever then you can never give up. Risking your heart is the only way you’ll find the person who will appreciate and love the real you. Once you find that person you’ll know for yourself it was a risk worth taking.

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A too “hands on” teaching moment

I just love do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do moments when I’m trying to teach my children how to do something. Sadly, they happen often so I’m never going to win that mother-of-the-year award.

My children have been weeding my flower beds for years. In fact, my youngest will tell you nobody pulls weeds better than him, though you’ll have to ignore the eye rolls of my other two kids every time they hear that statement. I do a much better job of hiding my eye rolls.

Anyway, the time had come to weed and thin my climbing roses. I’ve never had my children do this chore. The roses growing up the fence are New Dawns. Though their fragrance is divine, when fully grown, their thorns can pierce even the thickest glove so I’ve always opted to take care of this section of garden myself. However, this year, I decided it was time to give them a tutorial on the process.

The first thing I point out was the sharp thorns. “Be careful how you handle these, especially the dead vines we’re cutting out, those thorns are often even sharper than the living ones.”

Not even a minute later I put my hand down, without looking, to use my full weight to move to the next section of roses. Three large thorns from the dead vine I’d just cut out went right through my gloves and pierced my palm. They went so deep the vine remained attached to me even after I lifted my hand. What else could I say as I cringed in pain but, “See, guys, this is what you don’t want to do.”

Ugh, I hate pain, but I just can’t seem to avoid it.

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Worth the read: Dragon Watch by Brandon Mull

Between, writing, editing, and proofing I spend a lot of time looking at words on a daily basis, so reading for fun is often a struggle anymore. If a book doesn’t grab me from the onset, we’re talking the first five pages—I’m sorry—I just don’t have the patience for it to finally get good. Sadly, I could probably swim in the amount of books that I’ve started in the last year and didn’t finish. So, when my husband told me Brandon Mull had added onto his Fablehaven series, I actually feared picking up the available books. I loved the Fablehaven series, and didn’t want those memories tainted by the critical eye that I’ve developed over the last five years. But my husband wouldn’t let it go, so after months of bugging I gave in and cracked that first book open.

Wow. What an excellent read. Brandon Mull continues to do a great job of blending old characters into new situations. He packs tons of action into his novel, which would keep any mid-grade age boy on the edge of their seat. But even inside that action he adds perfect touches of description that help a reader imagine for themselves the world in which this story takes place. I’m so grateful that book one Dragon Watch and book two Wrath of the Dragon King didn’t disappoint. A story so engaging they’re a fast read. It’s definitely a worthy sequel to the original Fablehaven series. But if you haven’t read the Fablehaven series you’ll want the start there first to understand the plot tie-ins from previous adventures. No boring backstory in these books, he just forges ahead, so you’ll want to prepare yourself.

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When it comes to hardships…think nibbles rather than mouthfuls

When life crashes down hard on you, and you feel like the mounting struggle is smothering you, I used to have a tendency to think that barreling through all of it at once was the only way to survive. After all, it makes sense that if we just get through it faster it will be over quicker, right?

It’s taken years to alter this initial response in myself, but I’ve discovered this kind of thinking often only exacerbates the issue rather than eases the burden I’m under. Because, even if I somehow manage to lift that boulder squishing me, it’s still a boulder on my shoulders that has to be dealt with.

The problems we face often have many facets, or issues intertwined. Trying to deal with them all lump together can be on overwhelming prospect for anyone. But, if you work through one thread at a time, those struggles become a little easier to face. Sure, there’s still a good-sized lump left to work through, but chipping away at problems are less exhaustive than trying to overcome them all at once. And trust me—life doesn’t ever stop throwing you problems, so you’re going to want to pace yourself. The good news—every victory, no matter how small, will give you an extra shot of strength to keep on fighting.

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I promise you won’t die if you put technology down

Life is all about finding balance, and when you’re a parent, you get to help your kids find balance too. Technology is one of those areas I feel I’m constantly harping on my kids about. Yes, smartphones, tablets, and the endless apps they use, can be helpful tools. But if they’re glued to your hands 24/7, you now have a problem.

Life, real life, doesn’t happen inside those screens. Spending too much time there pulls you away from the necessary physical interactions that connect you with the people around you. Without these interactions, feelings of isolation can grow. A disconnect that can easily lead any person toward depression.

Stop the cycle. Make a concerted effort to put the technology away and interact with those around you more often. The joy you will find by doing so is well worth the pain of separation you might feel at first for peeling the smartphone from your hands.

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