Cleaning Up

Not too long ago I wrote a post about feelings and mantras – that I don’t think every feeling has to be ignored for the sake of feeling happy.  I also said that I do believe in mantras and in affirmations. And I do.

For instance, the other day, I was upstairs attending to a few things while my children played downstairs, quietly. A little too quietly. So that when I came down stairs I expected something, and something is what I got.

The two, 6 and 8, had taken Costo, bulk-sized, paper towel rolls, about seven of them, and proceeded to make “roads” down stairs in the kitchen and living room. As well as, by the time they finished, “mountains.”

When I say there were paper towels everywhere, I mean no exaggeration. There were paper towels every where. And this was before summer break had even begun.

paper towels

Just a small portion of what was all over the place.

I find I use mantras a lot in the presence of my children, and even more during the summer.

I subscribe to a book I read a long time ago called Mommy Mantras. I love the author’s use of mantras and I relate so much to what she says about motherhood. This book is a great resource for any mom starting, and even the seasoned mother, who needs to just take a breath now and again and say something to get her through the tough times.

Like I said, I believe mantras do have their place! I like to use them once I am there (in a situation) as a reminder that this too shall pass. I can remind myself who I am, and what I stand for. Not that I always succeed, but I can try.

I also love a good mantra in meditation. A chant. It keeps the mind focused.

I take a yoga class where we do chanting, mostly in Sanskrit. Here is an example of a Sanskrit chant that opens the yoga class.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

Literally means: to call upon the creative energy of the universe, the divine, to transform light into dark

Ong – the energy of the active creative element in the universe

Namo – to call upon

Guru  — that which transforms dark (gu) into light (ru)

Dev – that which resides in the etheric or divine realm

When we chant this before yoga, we are asking that the creative energy enter our practice and transform dark into light, for us.

To some, it seems strange, but after practicing the use of chants I see how it connects us. The voice during a chant becomes one – it is unity at its finest.

I also believe in affirmations. When the tape in my head tells me I’m not good enough, I can always pull out an affirmation and solidify my place in this universe as a child of God. I belong here, I have a purpose and I am numero uno with someone, even if that someone is just me and my Maker. (I know my mom and dad think I’m pretty cool too, just in case I need human validation.)

I love Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life, Emmitt Fox, The Power of Constructive Thinking, and abundance books that call upon positive thinking and affirming words to bring about what I want in my life. I have plenty of books about affirmation and I love every one of them.

I believe whole-heartedly in prayer, meditation, affirmations, and mantras as a way to a more overall positive life and a way to have well-being in what can be a hard road called Life.

I also believe we are not here to just be happy. That was the purpose in the post about feelings. Someone said that they thought I was angry when I wrote that post, but I wasn’t. I just think we get a tad caught up in happiness and ignore that we are meant to have feelings, but we are not meant to dwell on those feelings.

When we dwell, the feelings have become habit. And habits are meant to be broken. Sometimes I think people try to talk themselves out of those habits. It is my opinion that words will lift us up and talking does a lot, but a physical smile can literally change the chemistry of the brain (even a fake one). Laughter has been a known cure for cancer.

I do suppose just talking can be a good starting point. But, I think in the talking and the doing true happiness is ours for the taking.

P.S. I think I should say something about depression. I do not believe all depression is a habit. Depression is real, and I know personally. I am on medication for it. Today, I am also taking music therapy, yoga, exercising, going to church, and doing more for the depression than I did when I first got on the meds.

I now want off, but I am having a hard time getting off. I notice that I become weepy and have thoughts that are not my own, no matter how much I tell myself they are not mine. I get scared of myself when I become that person.

It’s a hard call. I think when I got on the meds it was what I knew. Now that I know better would I do things differently? Probably. But, I have already made my decision based on what I knew at the time. I think, based on my history and where I was, I wish I would have had the same resources I now have in my life. I wish I would have known how to combat my chemistry with more natural methods. But I didn’t.

I trust that anything which has happened to me and any decisions I made about medication for depression were for the greater good. My goal is to use natural methods to get off of the meds, and I am doing it. But it’s not overnight. It takes time. And I’m willing to use what I have available to me today.

This is a personal decision, one that I believe each person has to make on his or her own, but it’s good to know there are methods out there besides medication if you are dealing with mild to moderate depression.

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Father, My Rainbow

A cloud

Follows me

 

Rain falls

Upon my

Upturned face

 

I come as a child

 

I breathe

Deep

And I ask for

My Father

 

I seek

In solitude

Embracing

The rain

 

I follow

The cloud

To its end

 

Yielding

 

I openly allow

All

To rain down

Upon me

 

Not because

The rain is

Sweet

(Or even because it is bitter-sweet)

 

But because

Within every cloud

And after all of my

Rainy days

 

I know

There is a rainbow

 

Arching

Dizzying lights

Dancing

Colorful motion

 

How do I know?

 

Because my Father,

He said so

 

And me,

I am still His Child

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Realized

The words of someone wise

Roll around in my brain

Like sweet rain water

On the hottest of days

 

I relish

The insight

Of what can be accomplished

With words

 

I completely

Give

Myself over

To the quote

 

I hang on to

Each and every expression

As if it is the last

 

And I see with clarity

Why I love words

Because even though the body of life

Dies

 

The words

And the soul-full

Live on

Forever

 

Good-bye Maya Angelou. Thank you for the beautiful, wise words.

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Why Do I Have to Suffer?

I normally try and keep things light hearted here. I love to share stories to make a point, but today I just want to “talk” about something I believe.

I recently read a Facebook post. The person posting said they were unhappy, and someone else said they just need to decide to be happy and voila, happiness can be theirs. Change your attitude change your world kind of logic.

Image

Why?

I do agree that we can change our thoughts to change our lives. Please do not get me wrong. Positive thoughts are great. But I think (pun intended) we should go a step further when deciding to just be happy.

What if we were to just allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling? If you are sad, maybe you need to be sad. If you are angry, maybe you need to be angry. If you are anxious, maybe… well you get the point.

I don’t believe in turning off a process in order to be happy, because maybe happiness isn’t the point. Maybe learning from the emotion is the point.

I’m not saying, wallow, or live in an emotional state. But emotions, like thoughts, are fleeting. They don’t last. If they do last then rather than just turning my thoughts to happier thoughts, I take the time to dig in and find out why I’m not able to recover from something that should be short-lived. Just like in meditation, when I stand outside myself and watch my thoughts go by, when I feel something, I often step outside my thoughts and ask myself questions. What about that feeling makes me want to stay stuck? What do I want to do about it? How far am I willing to go to get unstuck? Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone?

There are traditional and non-traditional ways to move forward from a mind-set that has become HABIT. But in my opinion, thinking or affirming ones way out is not the best idea. Mantras and affirmations certainly have a space in life, but if you don’t believe what you are saying or thinking, what good is it? Sorry, but I do not buy the fake it ‘til you make it philosophy. We end up telling ourselves a lie and really never getting to know ourselves better. Isn’t that what a hurt heart and suffering in our lives are about? Getting to know ourselves better to become a more authentic version of ourselves? Maybe someone we are happy with? Someone who stands and lives in truth, whatever that truth may be?

Suffering is meant to break us open. As Mark Nepo, author of many books including The Awakening, says, Life will either break us open or we can shed willingly.

When life is breaking us open, either by an event that causes suffering or a feeling we can’t shake, it’s time to shed willingly. Otherwise, we just repeat the suffering over and over again. I haven’t found an affirmation yet that has gotten me over my body image issues. However, taking a music therapy class that is making me dance around and sing is getting me so out of my comfort zone that now when I say I love my body, I actually mean it. I love that I am able to sing out loud. I love that I can dance. Now my mantras about my body mean something.

And that is just one example of something I need to deal with. Feeling sad? Get therapy. It maybe something as simple as getting a massage or going to dinner with a  friend and talking. Taking music lessons or dance. Give blood. Visit a sick friend. Go on a mission trip. Get a pet — my dog has done wonders for my soul. Go to a guided meditation, or a workshop. Nature is one of the best cures for anything we are suffering. Pray. Write about your emotions, let the writing sit for a week then go back. Are you still feeling the same way? Is the emotion becoming a habit? What can be done? What are you willing to do? Is acceptance part of your vocabulary? There’s a saying, what we resists, persists.

Most humans love a community — don’t suffer alone! I have found that the fastest way to happiness is finding HELP rather than trying to think happy thoughts or affirm happy sayings.

Sometimes our scariest, hardest, most fragile feelings are the most helpful for living an authentic life. Facing what we feel is not bad, even if it is not happy; even if those around us are not happy with us.

Like I said, I love a good affirmation, especially if you find one that feels empowering, but that affirmation probably gave off that feeling because it either resonates already or heals something there ready to be healed. Asking your soul to think itself happy is just not fair to any part of you or those around you. It feels shallow to me.

The soul is here to suffer, overcome suffering, suffer some more and eventually… after the suffering is over and the healing of all that we came here to heal is done, be happy all the time. That happiness is called Enlightenment and very few people can be there all the time. Until then we should take happiness when happiness is there, in the present moment, and not try and cling too tightly. And, in the suffering, we also should not act clingy, but allow it to pass at its own pace.

It’s the clinging we need to be aware of more than the emotion. Again, repeating from above, it’s like meditation, watching the thoughts go by like a cloud, standing outside, looking in. That is what we can do with emotions too. If we can get perspective, by standing outside of the moment and ask ourselves questions about how we can best serve the suffering then happiness comes faster and faster.

Today I ask myself, am I suffering? Why?

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A Rant or a Rave? OK, Rave It Is!

I considered making this a rant, but I decided to come from a different place; from my soul.

It’s my dog. She wakes me up most every morning at 5 am to go out for her morning walk. Since the day she’s come home to us she has woken me up between 5 and 6 am. Even on weekends.

I know I could change it with persistence, but there’s a reason I would rather not. It’s because even though it looks rough from the outside and feels rough some days, overall, I like it. I love getting outside before the sun is up.

I used to get up in the mornings, pre-Iris, and sit on my porch. A cup of tea in hand, I watched the sun rise on the trees; leaves fluttering in the morning air, golden highlights, and shadows on each tree creating a beautiful backdrop for silent meditation and reading.

Once Iris came, I tried to keep everything in my routine, but quickly found that porch-time was giving way to dog walking time. It turns out though, for me, it’s been a move to practicing an authentic meditation I didn’t realized I could have.

In walking before dawn, I found out that trees have partners; trees on my walks that grow together from the base and split but stay side by side, living their lives in tandem. There is a tree in the shape of the number 4. I’ve seen a tree that grows up then stretches forward and outward from its base, leaving me wondering how in the world it is standing. Deep roots?

photo 1     photo 2

When we travel, Iris gets me up just the same as at home. She and I walk around, she smelling the place silly, and me noticing. Houses, the beach, the moon, how the stars look in this place compared to at home. I notice bushes and grass and leaves. Iris has been in my life for a year now, so I have seen all of the seasons come and go and how the landscape changes as those seasons pass.

By now, you might be picturing me walking the dog on a clear morning, where the stars and moon are visible. But, I have walked her in the rain, the sleet, the snow, and the wind. I have layered up in two coats and put a blanket over the coats.

I love that too. As an adult, I don’t find myself rushing out to be in the elements. But once I am out there, breathing in the air, and walking, I find myself liking it.

I can see how those before us, those that lived under the stars and the moon, would want to know all there is about our Universe and what those moon cycles mean and how the stars are connected. I love to see the changing moon – not just its shape, but where it is located in the sky changes.

And that is the point – I am no longer sitting on my porch observing, I am now more in a state of experiencing what I was observing. From the start, without any planning about it, I started paying attention to the elements in front of me. I listen to my footsteps. It is such an acute time for my senses, I feel very mindful – aware of nature, aware of my dog, aware of how our ancestors must have felt being outdoors so much more than I have been in my lifetime.

I encounter so many people who say they cannot meditate because they just can’t sit there and not think. But, meditation can be anything, as long as we are PRESENT for the moment. Walking, gardening, cleaning the house, jogging… the list goes on. Meditation is not only about sitting. It’s about being in the moment no matter the activity. It’s about allowing those thoughts to come, but deciding to envision that thought as a cloud, passing by. This lets us know we are not our thoughts.

Meditation is all about disconnecting from thought form and recognizing we are MUCH, MUCH more than that. We are divine for goodness sakes!

Seeing ourselves as more than thought allows for the space to know that the tapes that run, that one that says, “You are messy, stupid, and ugly,” or whatever are just not true, they are nothing more than a thought.

Meditation allows us to observe that thought from a different standpoint, outside of our minds.

Of course, I still subscribe to the sitting. I believe learning to sit and watch my thoughts from the inside out is a wonderful skill – one developed over time, not just in one sitting. I like saying to myself, “Huh, wonder where that came from?” Or, telling myself “This can wait; now it is time for spirit.” However, active meditation is a great place to start to see how a quiet, mindful experience can change a moment into a seed of inspiration for more. More peace. More quiet. More careful attention to for what we want in this life to be.

Today, I have gratitude for my dog, Iris, and the depth of experience her early-bird disposition has brought to my life. And… if you haven’t tried it recently, nothing feels better than going outside, a chill in the air and coming back to get back in the bed on a weekend and sleeping until waking up, again.

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Aging: Ain’t it fun?

I turned 43, this month. I can understand how some people in their 70s, look and say to me, “Trust me, you are still a baby.” This actually happened to me two days before my birthday at the hair salon when I told them to chop about seven inches, or more, off of my hair. It was my “shock and awe” campaign for turning 43 – the idea of something I could see, visibly, about my changing age.

Little did I know, my body had a change already in store for me to grasp my increasing age. Yesterday, I found a gray hair, “DOWN THERE” where the sun doesn’t shine. That was an aging bomb shell for me. I just assumed I was many years away from gray hair “down there.”

I’ve had a couple of the tale-tell signs I have heard about being in my 40s, but I have convinced myself I am aging better than those around me who share my numbers. I still have my close-up vision (no pile of Dollar Store glasses surrounding me at restaurants and at home yet). I still exercise and keep up well enough with the whipper-snappers in their 20s, jogging along beside me. And though I don’t get accused of being in my 20s anymore, people often seem genuinely baffled to find out my true age.

So seriously, a gray pube at 43?

Later that day after the “big find,” I drop Nathan (my son) off to drum lessons, and Jessie (my daughter) and I continue to the post office to mail a couple of packages. Suddenly, as we are walking to the mini-van, she begins singing, “Country roads, take me home to the place, I belong, West Virginia, Mountain Mama, take me home, country roads.”

I said, “Where did you hear that song?”

“A girl at school was singing it,” she said.

So we sing it together and suddenly, I’m not 43, I’m four and I’m back in my aunt Tracy’s bedroom, at my grandmama’s house on Radio Drive, belting out John Denver’s, “Country Roads” with my cousin Laura while we look in the big, floor-to-ceiling mirror at our four and six year old selves.

I just so happen to have that song as part of my music collection on my iPhone. As Jessie and I leave the post office parking lot, I pull it up on the phone so Jessie can hear all of the words. She could hear them today at six, and I could be carried back instantly to a time when gray hairs were nowhere on my radar and wouldn’t be for a long, long time.

I am four again. And I am graciously reminded that hair is hair, but memories are what life is made of.

Now I’m not so upset at the hair. I pulled it out. I expect that more will come, but now instead of being upset, I intend to embrace each and every gray, knowing that while they are coming in, I am creating more and more memories.

 I am creating a life and life is creating me.

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Here, Here to a New Year (and Narrowed Intentions)

I’ve written a few posts through the years about the New Year and my intentions. I know a couple of years ago my intention was to stand in my own truth, let come what may. By honoring who I am and what I stand for. I also acknowledge the I am still defining who and what that is; every day that vision becomes clearer.

Last year, my intention for the New Year was to earn money – a living, some paychecks, and have a bank account of my own. I was successful in this. I have a bank account and I have been earning money from my efforts.

I have successfully stayed at home and pursued about 15 different avenues of money-making. A few of these include: marketing campaigns for people and companies, signing up for Rodan + Fields Dermatologist to become a consultant to sell their skin care products (great products by the way), making home-made deodorant , lip balm, bath fizzies, and body butter under the product name Jennifer K (I’m still getting orders), and to top it off I worked hard at the end of this year and received my Real Estate license. I signed with Chapman Hall Realtors, and I’m ready to sell. I even have my first listing out there.

In 2012, I took a class in Orton Gillingham, a method of helping dyslexic kids learn to read, spell and mostly, to retain information. My goal was to tutor kids, but in the end, I decided to just write a blog on it. For a while, I also wrote a blog for my favorite metaphysical store, Phoenix & Dragon. But, I stopped writing. Not just the P&D blog — for the most part, I stopped writing everything but the Orton Gillingham blog.

That is what this post is about. My intention for 2014, is to honor my passion and get back to what I love most — writing. I still have the goal to earn a living, from home, where I can do mommy-oriented duties without stress. Enter real estate. I’m not foolish enough to believe there is no stress in a real estate career, but it’s a living and I can work on my writing and be around for my kids.

I spent 2013, planting the seeds of my vision. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I took on just about anything that came my way. I honored my creativity in ways I didn’t know existed for me.

Recently, I was in a meditation on a Saturday evening at Phoenix & Dragon. A picture came to me when my meditation was at is deepest. I saw seeds being planted in the ground. I knew it was about 2013; all of the “seeds” I had planted to make my income a reality. And somewhere in my mind I said, “I know my seeds will be flowers soon.” But my “mind” (guides?), said, “No. Not flowers, TREES!”

I can appreciate that analogy – I’ve planted TREES!

Now, to narrow down the vision of those trees in a forest of creations I have made. Focus.

So here’s my focused intention for 2014: I am going to have the first draft of a fictional memoir called Radio Drive written and ready for a real, expert book editor (funded by my real estate sales).

This is a book about my grandmother, Juanita, and her daughters (including my mother) overcoming adversity in a home of male dominance. It’s about six women kindling spirit-light in the dim backdrop of their life with my grandfather.

I will post from time to time about my progress and what I am feeling as I go through this process of, literally, becoming my grandmother.

Already today, I read her obituary. It touched me to see her life condensed to two paragraphs – born, moved, lived in, married, married, death. “Survived by those that loved her most,” is what it says at the end and it lists those of us that are left to carry on her memory.

That’s my intention in a nutshell. I am here to carry on my grandmother’s legacy of love and strength. And I intend to make it a reality this year.

My favorite picture of my grandmother. I think it shows her spirit so well.

My favorite picture of my grandmother. I think it shows her spirit so well.

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I’m Dancing to the Music of Gratitude

What I’m posting today is an attempt to get back my inspiration for my baby, my passion –my “Mom’s Soul Café.” I still go to the coffee shop. I have been there every day getting my mochas and learning, but not writing. I spent two months studying for (and passing, whoo hoo!) the real estate exam. It was a lofty goal for me to do in two months with kids, hubby and a marketing business that is taking up much of my time.

I said at the beginning of this year, I would be working on making money; to have a bank account of my own making. And I have been successful at it. Not wildly, mind you; I have been building towards something, especially with my real estate studies. But with the strides I have made in this year’s declaration, I have seen much of my passion for writing get pushed down in the stampede of life. Making money and raising kids leaves little time for pursuits of my true passion – writing.

The most intriguing part is that when I have been able to steal a moment to jot down my thoughts, I don’t have a thing to say, spiritually, motherly or otherwise. I know why – to be a writer, I have to write. I have to write all the time, even in my sleep! It’s what makes the creative flow come a flowin’.

So many life events have happened, but I haven’t had the words to express what the essence of those circumstances mean to me deeper down, under the surface of any seemingly mundane event.

For instance, the other day, Jessie and I were getting in the mini-van to go somewhere. It was a rainy day and it was cold. We were bundled up, getting in and Jessie said, “I sure am glad we have a car to go in today.”

As if we don’t have a car every day to go somewhere. My baby, who, if I’m being honest, doesn’t show a whole ton of gratitude for anything, much less a dang car to ride in, was showing me that there is a gracious bone in her body. Just so you know, unprompted gratitude from my children makes my heart sing.

I said to her, “I’m so happy you recognize that we are fortunate to have a car on a day like today, or any day for that matter. That feeling you are having is called gratitude, or being thankful for what you have.”

To top off my week, we went to the tree lighting at the local mall on Thanksgiving night, to see the tree light up, drink hot chocolate in the freezing weather, and hear Christmas carols a full month before Christmas. It was great.

Only my crew would to go the tree lighting in person and watch it on TV from the tablet!

Only my crew would to go the tree lighting in person and watch it on TV from the tablet!

When I was going to sleep with Nathan that night (yep, I’m still in his bed until he falls asleep and I sneak away to my bed), he up and said, “Thank you mom for going to the tree lighting tonight, I had a really good time. And, I’m going to tell daddy thank you for organizing it and taking us.”

Then he turned over and went to sleep. And I took a deep sigh of relief, from my physical body and my soul. Was that a gracious word coming from both of my kids in one week? I think it was.

And I am grateful.

Happy Holidays!

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Are you a Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

I recently heard the parable below. I liked it so much I came home and looked it up on the Internet.

Its message gave me pause and made me think about how I handle adversity. I would like to say I am a “Coffee Bean” at all times, but I know I am forever in a state of  learning, so I believe I have been all of these images during my life at one time or another. I want to share this parable because I think the visual is strong and the circumstance of which it is told is relatable.

Carrot_Egg_or_Coffee_Bean___Which_O_

The carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean

‘A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened!

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.
If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?’

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I’m Feeling Protected

I like to use the moments when my kids want to talk about something to answer with some sagely advice. You know, those teachable moments. Recently, though, I found myself on the learning end of a conversation with my five year old daughter, Jessie.

As I drove down the road, she in the back seat said, “Mom, people tell me I’m beautiful a lot.”

“That’s great,” I said. Then I decided to teacher her about beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

So, I said, “But if someone does not think you are beautiful, that doesn’t mean you are not. Everyone has different ideas of beauty.”

Jessie said, “Has anyone ever told you that you are not beautiful?”

Not really thinking about it too much, I wanted to get my point across, so I said, “Yes. I’m sure someone has told me before that I am not beautiful or pretty. But that’s OK, because I have had plenty say I am. Do you understand what I mean by that? Everyone thinks of beauty differently.”

Jessie replied, “Well, yes, I understand. And if anyone ever tells my mom again that she is not beautiful, I’m going to kick them in the butt real hard and run!”

I may not have gotten my point across, but I’m feeling very protected.

As a parent, I want my children protected from the harshness of the world. I never want anyone to tell my daughter that she’s not beautiful, or make my son feel weak. I want them both to love themselves. But I also know that overcoming the opinions of others is a great lesson in life.  I would be shocked to find a person who has not had to get this message the hard way. So I have to assume my kids will not be immune to it.

My hope is that when my daughter (or son) comes to me, I can make them feel as loved as Jessie made me feel the day she was going to kick butt for the honor of my beauty.

Today, I appreciate the protection from the people who love me, exactly as I am.

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