Monday, June 29, 2015

I Didn't Want To Share With My Daughter

My daughter wants to paint.  She asked me to show her how to paint.  Most of my painting these days is done on walls, but I really enjoy painting on canvas.  In fact, I was just 10-years-old when I first painted on canvas...the same age my daughter is now.  

I don't really remember what it was that caused me to want to paint when I was young. I just liked to draw and paint.  I took a couple art classes during summer breaks as something to do to.  I did art class in school like every other kid.  Somewhere along the line the opportunity came up for me to take private lessons with my art teacher, so my parents signed me up, and away I went.  I painted for a while during lessons, and then after we moved, it was mostly relegated to high school art class. Outside of art class, I would paint occasionally, but not very frequently...until last year.

I hadn't really painted on canvas since before my kids were born, but then an art type project came up at my church that I participated in...and painted on canvas once again.  I loved it!  I forgot how much I loved it.  I've talked before how sometimes we forget that we like to do something.  Painting was one of those things.  It is also my thing.  My husband is creative and artistic, but in a different way than I am.  He likes to draw and sketch, and he builds things--amazing things--but he doesn't paint. My son also likes to draw, but not really paint.  Baby girl likes to color and design clothes on sketch pads.  It's quite adorable, really, but painting seems to be something that is just mine...until now.

 UL berry red

I'm not sure why I was hesitant to share painting with my daughter.  Maybe I was being selfish, or maybe I am lacking in confidence in my ability to teach her how to paint.  I don't know, but then it dawned on me that this could be something really special that she and I can share.

We had our first lesson a few days ago.  It wasn't very formal, and we didn't even paint.  We just talked about seeing colors.  We looked at peach tree in our backyard as the was starting to set behind it.  We talked about that it wasn't just green and brown.  It was green, and yellow, and florescent green and even white where the sun reflected off the leaves.  It's actually become a game for us. What colors do you see?  And it's really precious.

What things have you forgotten that you like to do?  Is it something creative?  Is it something you can share with someone you love?  I encourage you to revisit it, and comment about it below.

Thanks for stopping by.  As always, you can click on the pictures in my blog to purchase those expressions for your own home or office.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What Do You Do For Yourself, Mom?

I don't know why we do it, but it is characteristically a mom thing to put ourselves last.  That's why they have to remind us on plane rides to put our oxygen masks on first before taking care of our children's mask.  It makes sense, but I know I (and a lot of other mom's out there) still tend to put everyone else before ourselves.  Maybe it's guilt because I'm a working mom (but I know I did it when I was a stay at home mom, too), or maybe it's not managing resources well.  I do tend to do more things for myself when our money is planned and budgeted better...I could write tons of posts on that subject alone, but that will be another day.  

Last night, one of my sweet friends sent this picture to me of her Uppercase Living expression that I dropped off to her yesterday.  

 UL Laundry Room

I love it!  Her words to me were, "It livens up my boring laundry room...where I spend a lot of my time!" I completely agree.  If we have to be there anyway, we might as well make it fun, right?  The part that really struck me was her response to something so simple as some fun words on the wall.

"I feel like it's something just for me.:)"

I am completely guilty of putting things off for myself.  It was a sweet reminder from a sweet lady that it's okay to take care of ourselves and do a little something for ourselves along the way.

What little things do you enjoy doing for yourself amid the everyday, routine tasks?  Please comment below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

Often good enough is good enough. But sometimes it's not enough. After my black belt test, I gave myself permission to relax. You wouldn't think that someone would have to give themselves permission to relax, but that's how my brain works. It's always going. It's always thinking. It was hard work to study for my black belt test. I'm glad I did it, but it was a hard process and required exceptional amounts of self-discipline. The problem is that I've gotten into that habit of relaxing now. 

Again, don't hear me wrong, it is okay to chill and relax, but I know I am more at peace in my mind during relaxation time when I've done my allotted work. I will never be finished with everything I want to do. One of the poor habits I've gotten into is wiring my blog post the night before. (Not proud of that one, but there it is.) In doing that, I don't feel like I'm giving you my best writing and processing. My efforts are fine. They are good enough, but that's not what you want as a reader. That's not what you deserve either. 

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I really do appreciate you stopping by to visit my humble blog. I apologize. In my efforts to be consistent, I have been sacrificing some quality. Thanks for hanging around, and now I will be rectifying the situation. Specifically, I will be working ahead a little more.  And I'm needing to add time management skills back into the mix. Good enough is no longer good enough. I've decided and I'll be taking specific steps. Stay tuned! 

What things have you allowed good enough to be good enough... When you really should have expected more? Please comment below. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Golfed!

I wouldn't consider myself an elite athlete.  That probably has more to do with my own self image than my actual abilities.  I may not push myself as much as I really could.  However, I will say that with my active endeavors, I have developed a certain amount of body awareness.  By body awareness, I mean I know what my body is doing.  I believe that comes from doing crossfit and doing a lot of karate--where one needs to know exactly what one's body is doing.  

 UL rosemary tea

Last weekend was my 16th wedding anniversary celebration (my actual anniversary was on June 5th).  While my husband has been golfing at a hobby level for several years now, I have never managed to make it out on the course...well, beyond putt-putt, anyway.  So that's what I told him I wanted to do.  Golf.  Guess what!  This girl loved it!  I'm sure it helped that my hubby is an amazingly patient teacher...and that we didn't keep score really.  I only lost 2 balls in the water and really and truly kept my hits pretty straight.  I might just have a new hobby!

 Super cheese

Besides, who wouldn't want to hang out with their very own hottie (who happens to hate selfies. lol.)? The point of all this rambling about me golfing is not to say that you need to be a black belt in karate or a super elite crossfitter to enjoy golfing.  My point is that it's fun to go try new things!  Get out there and go try something new!  It doesn't have to be anything expensive or elaborate--just go.  Just do.  Just have fun and be willing to laugh at yourself and enjoy the company of the person with you.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

I'd love to hear something new that you found you liked, loved, or hated.  Please comment below.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Can We Cure Poverty?

Of course the quick answer to this question is, "I don't know." The deeper answer is probably not, as Jesus himself told us that we will always have the poor (Mark 14:7).  Does that mean we shouldn't care for or help those with less (monetarily speaking)? No.  It doesn't get us off the hook of helping others, even if we can't cure it.  

What I do believe we're supposed to do is help with the needs placed before us, and more than that: do no harm.  Just like a physician taking the Hippocratic oath, we have the ability to do harm when we help people.  I recently attended the first in a series of classes on poverty.  (Here's a preview.)  In the first episode they brought up many concerns about how our charity often hurts more than it helps.  How can giving hurt someone?  By taking away their motivation to care for themselves.  We've all heard the old adage: 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. 

The poor man has been given many fish and no longer even wants to think about learning to fish. He's content to let you keep giving him fish because it makes you feel good.  The focus of the class was on harm that is done when we continue to give and give without thought for the future of the person we're giving to.  There are times when our giving is needed (ie. natural disasters, etc.), and there are times when we are all in need of assistance.  But, by and large, I don't think we should continue to just give without investing in a specific plan and holding the recipients accountable.

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I'm not proposing a cure for poverty, but I do believe that people are where they are because of how they think.  If they can continue to take and take and take and not have to show any growth or accountability, that is a recipe for...well, nothing good.

I would encourage you to look into this issue more.  One of my favorite quotes from the lesson was this:
Instead of training job seekers, let's train job makers.

One last thought on this: even though we cannot cure all poverty, it does matter to make a difference to one person, and another person, and another.  Each person has unique and intrinsic value simply because they are created in the image of God.  They are a human and they have worth.

Do check it out.  The organization is called PovertyCure.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this controversial and emotional topic.  Please comment below--and keep it respectful.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Parents Doubted I Could Do It

If you've read my blog before, then you know I recently earned my black belt in karate.  It has been quite a journey, and often a struggle along the way.  It should be a struggle.  It's supposed to be hard. That's why it's an honor to hold a black belt.  That's why it's impressive.  

At my promotion ceremony, my parents were, of course in attendance.  It's a fun evening of looking back at where I started, looking to the future and a bit of roasting and toasting from those that have worked with me.  Guests are also allowed to share, so naturally my parents expressed their pride...and surprise that I earned my belt.  Surprise?  Yes, they expressed surprise that I got it.  

At the time, it didn't strike me as strange that my parents were surprised I got my belt.  I knew what he meant when my dad told me of all the kids in our family, he was surprised that I was the one who earned my black belt.  What he was referring to was the fact that I was the shy kid--the quiet, non-trouble making, band nerd who did what I was supposed to.  I played sports, but mostly because I thought it was fun.  I didn't have anything to prove.  I wouldn't say I'm especially gifted athletically. I'm not implying that one has to be an aggressive, super jock, trouble maker to be interested in karate. That's not it at all. (And often those types of people will not stick around very long because of the discipline and respect that should go hand in hand with studying martial arts.)  It's just that I probably didn't do much outside of my comfort zone.  I did activities, but on the safer side of things.  I didn't get in fights--I often talked my way out of them.  I didn't have a desire to hit things. I was the mild mannered Clark Kent kind of kid.

 UL valencia orange & navy

Little did they know that I have this driven, kick ass side of me hidden deep down.  My mom remembered when I was bullied a bit in high school.  I was the peace maker, the non-wave maker.  I had opportunity to study karate at that point, but chose not to.  I wasn't ready and it wasn't the right time.  I probably wouldn't have landed at the school I'm at now, even though they were around back then.  God had other plans for me, as He often does.  I had to learn more about myself before I could start on this martial arts journey.

I'm okay with surprising people.  I'm okay with surprising my parents.  I'm okay with surprising myself.  It seems to be a pattern these days, and it's one I'd like to keep going.

What have you done that surprised others around you?  Did it surprise you?  Please comment below.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why Do We Like Music?

I was standing in church today listening to the music during the "worship" time.  I've heard it before that everything we do is worship to God--not just the music portion.  But what is it about the music in our church services or on the radio or iPods that really makes us love it and feel it?

I asked my daughter who is a self professed music lover why she likes to sing.  Here are her words:

When I'm feeling sad, music helps me express my sad feelings.  When I feel angry, music helps me calm down again.  When I'm happy, music helps me feel more alive.

My 10-year-old said that.  Music helps me feel more alive.  Why?  Why does music help us feel more deeply?  We know that it helps our brains work more effectively mathematically.  How?

 UL INK music theme pack

Music is strange and beautiful.  It really can evoke a myriad of emotions, but really it's just a collection of sounds if we're being technical.  The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, though.  Music soothes the soul, encourages the heart.  Different combinations of sounds create different types of music.  The combinations are literally endless.  Music is a gift.

I encourage you to stop for a minute as you go about your day today.  Listen to the music around you.  I mean really listen.  Feel it.  What is it saying to you?  Please comment below.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I'm Not Supposed to Adopt

My daughter has asked for a little brother or sister on more than one occasion.  She asked so many times, that we asked her to stop asking.  She has also asked for a cat, chickens, a guinea pig, goats, a bunny, and many other assorted animals.  We have 2 dogs.  That's it for our animal farm.  I take that back.  We would like to get some chickens, but there needs to be a coop for them to live in so the dogs don't eat them...  We practically have our own herd of deer, as well.  We live in the middle of town on half an acre and the deer like to hang out on the back half of our lot.  They were quite insulted when we moved in and started mowing it.  When she is grown up and has her own house, she can have as many animals as she would like.  And when she grows up and gets married and has her own family, she can have as many babies as she likes.

I'm not against having a lot of kids.  I love kids!  I have several friends with larger families (and their kids are amazing and beautiful!), but my hubby and I just didn't feel called to have a large family. We also didn't feel called to adopt.  (I'm not saying never because that's when God laughs and reminds us that it's His plan we live under and not our own.)  But at this point in our lives, we don't feel called to add to our family through adoption.  We do, however, feel called to support adoptive families around us.  We have what I believe to be an unusually high number of adoptive families in our "inner circle" of friends.  We didn't seek that out.  It's just where God brought us.

 UL Italian turquoise

I'm always surprised when people that aren't able to conceive, but do want children, are not wanting to even consider adoption.  It is an amazing, beautiful gift!  Maybe I'm looking through rose colored glasses and I see these beautiful, amazing families that have children from all over the world or 200 miles away.  It doesn't matter where they came from.  They are loved.  The last adoption that occurred was with some close friends of ours.  They got a gorgeous, precious little boy from Africa. Of course, the process takes quite a while and they didn't know if they would get a boy or a girl.  My sweet baby girl asked me if they "accidentally got an extra baby," could we keep it?  I told her sure... and then prayed they didn't get twins.

I'm not saying everyone should adopt.  I'm not saying that adoption isn't hard.  It's just that it is such a beautiful gift, and a great reflection of God adopting us into His family, that it is worth supporting and considering.  There are so many babies out there that need loved, and so many families that have love to give.

Also, I have another family that is close to us that is working to set a travel date to pick up another baby from China.  I'm not at liberty to share names, but I'd love it if you'd keep them in your prayers. 

What are your thoughts on adoption?  Please comment below.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Son Said It Was Worth It

"It was really hard, but it was worth it." His words caught me off guard as we rummaged through the fridge to find leftovers for dinner.  I stopped digging and turned around to hug my almost-as-tall-as-me first born baby.  

If you've been following my blog posts in the last couple weeks, you probably heard me reference my son and his trip.  (You can read more here or here.) To briefly summarize, my 12-year-old mowed lawns and did extra chores to earn money for a trip with his school.  It wasn't cheap, but we told him he could go--as long as he earned his own money.  More than once along the way, I really thought he was going to quit.  We were sitting in the driveway of his lawn mowing client's house having a discussion on more than one occasion about how we don't quit.  We committed to this.  We are going to finish.  We have integrity, etc.  They were not the most happy of conversations, but I hope they were a part of the many lessons he learned last summer and fall as he mowed lawns every Saturday morning.

 UL warm stone & sugared plum

I didn't think it had sunk in, though, until he said that to me tonight.  
"It was worth it." I wanted to cry because I was so proud.  I settled for a hug and did my best to not get too smooshy with my boy who is growing up so fast.
I pray that he understands the weight of what he said to me.  Now he can do anything.  It's not that he couldn't before, but now he knows he can...because he already did--and he knows it was worth it.  

I could say the same thing about my black belt.  It was hard.  It was really hard.  But it was worth it.

What has been really hard in your life that once you got on the other side of it was completely worth it?  Comment below.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I (Don't) Need Approval

My husband has been at his current job for the last 7 years.  I've heard all sorts of statistics saying that is very out of the ordinary these days.  Most people have 15,000 jobs by the time they're 45 and the average stay at any given job is less than 2 days, or something like that...those may not be the exact numbers I heard.  My point is he's been there much longer than the current average.  One week ago, he gave notice that he will be leaving.  He's good at what he does.  In fact, he's really good at what he does.  And now he's leaving to go back to his first love: construction.

As a little teaser of upcoming events (and because I am really excited about it), I posted one of those cryptic messages on my facebook page that annoys everyone and makes them curious at the same time.  I didn't do it to be annoying exactly, but I wanted to say something to put it out there and yet I wasn't able to say anything about details because all affected parties weren't notified yet.  The response was as I expected; I got several private messages, public speculation, and in person inquiries as to what the exciting things happening at my house were.  What I didn't expect was negative response from some of them.  I'm not sure why I didn't expect it, but I really didn't.

 UL Peony Pink

The irony is that I don't really care.  I know that their lack of enthusiastic response is seated in their desire for our well being, but some of the looks I received said, "Wow.  You guys are crazy." We may be crazy.  Who knows?  We do feel like this is the direction God is leading us, and therefore say in response,"Who are we (or you) to question that?" We are not moving blindly or foolishly forward, but are doing our best to hear God and follow the direction He is leading us.

When my hubby took his last job 7 years ago, it was a definite answer to prayer.  I know that God provided that job for us without any doubt in my mind.  I have no doubt that He will provide for us again.  He loves and feeds the birds of the air, and He does the same for us.

It's just time to move on from there.  We'd love to have your support, but we are not going to stop moving in this direction because we don't have unanimous votes from every person around us.  We are well aware that we have been in the construction industry before and that we walked away from it, too.  I'm pretty sure I've learned a couple things in the last 10 years, and I hope we are not the same people we were then, either.  We're moving on.

I must give credit where credit is due, though.  Our closest friends have been wonderfully understanding and supportive of our decision.  They know we are not impulsive and irresponsible when it comes to these types of decisions.  To those friends, I say thank you. It still isn't a requirement to have positive approval, but it's nice to have.

What thing are you moving on from that others might not understand?  Or are you one of the naysayers? Please comment below.

Friday, June 5, 2015

I'm Glad I Didn't Go With My Son

I'm getting ready to get my son from the airport.  I talked earlier in the week about how proud I am of him for doing all the work necessary to earn a trip to Washington D.C. and New York City.  The trip was a big deal, but he worked hard and did it.  That feat, in itself is completely commendable. The hard part was letting him go...not just letting him go, but going without me.

I would say my family is a pretty connected family.  I had the privilege of staying home with my kiddos when they were young.  I didn't go back to work until my daughter (my youngest) went to school.  We just got used to doing things together.  If we went somewhere, it was together.  I loved it. It was a special period that is a very unique bonding time, but like all good things, it must come to an end.  Our kids don't stop needing us all at once.  It's a gradual process over time.  I have a wise friend whose children have been grown and gone from home for a long time that used to tell me,

"Untie the apron strings.  We wear many, many aprons as mommies, and one at a time we help our children grow and untie the apron strings.  Our kids learn to ride a bike without us holding on.  Untie the apron strings.  Our kids begin school.  Untie the apron strings.  Our kids learn to drive.  Untie the apron strings..."
We are giving them a home base to check in, but over time our job is to equip them to go out into the world and do what God has planned for them.  Fear is often a big obstacle for doing the things we're called to do.  This trip was an amazing trip for my son, but it was so much more than that.  It was an opportunity to untie a big set of apron strings.  He found out that he can do things without me--big things!  It's not that he wouldn't have done it if I were there, but there would have been a bit of a safety net.  I don't want to shove my son out into the world without a safety net, but sometimes I won't get to be the safety net.  I get to be home base.

 UL navy blue and varsity blue

This kiddo and his buddies got to have an amazing experience, and while I would have loved to go on the trip, I'm glad he got to do it without me and get a taste of what he is capable of.  He didn't let his fear or nervousness stop him.

 He's home!

Have any of you had experiences like this trip?  How has it shaped your life moving forward after it? Please comment below.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sometimes I Forget How Awesome I Am

Tomorrow's WOD is a partner WOD at my box.  If you have no idea what I just said, let me translate: tomorrow's workout of the day is a partner workout at my crossfit gym.  Ick.  It's not that I don't like the people I work out with.  In fact, they are a pretty stellar bunch of folk to work out with.  It's that I don't like to subject them to my slow.  I'd rather just do half the workout and call it good, but that's kind of missing the point isn't it?  It's working together and pushing yourself more than you probably would if you were doing it on your own.  There's just something motivating about having your partner holding a plank pose while you do power cleans...unless you're just a cruel, cruel person.

As I said before, I'd rather just do half the workout and be done.  On some level, I guess I just feel not worthy to have a partner work with me.  I'm not the fastest, by any stretch.  I'm fairly strong, but not the strongest.  I can go for a long time, but there are others that can go longer.  Here's the kicker: I'm not comparing myself to average.  Average is home in bed still by the time I've done my workout and already started my day.  I'm comparing myself to excellence and that leaves me in a pretty amazing place.  These aren't even average gym goers.  These are crossfitters.

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As I was publicly complaining about the workout on the facebook page, one of my workout buddies responded by saying he'd be my workout partner.  Just someone being willing to pipe up and say, "Hey, I'll stick it out with you," reminded me that I'm worth working out with.  I'm worth hanging out with.  In fact, I'm pretty darn awesome.  That's the beauty of community.  That's why God designed us to be in relationships with those around us.  We are created for community.

What's your awesome that you forget about sometimes?  Please comment below--and I'm not just saying that.  I really love feedback.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Patterns of Success: part 2

I took my son to the airport today. I left him there.  He's only 12-years-old.  I did leave him in capable hands, but I left him just the same. Today he left for his big trip. 

My little man left with 17 classmates and 3 adults to fly across country to visit our nation's capital and New York City.  If you don't recall, we lived in small town Colorado. I could tell he was a little nervous when he got rather upset with me about taking a selfie with him in the airport.  He's not usually a huge fan of selfies, but this response was a bit more emphatic. 

"Mom. I hate selfies!" he glared into my camera.  I won't embarrass him by posting it, as my goal of this blog is not to humiliate my children.  I tried not to cry in front of him as he walked into the security check point with his brave face on.  I succeeded by only getting a bit forklempt as my baby (because he'll always be my baby) left on the plane to the big, big city.

The part I'm most excited about with this trip is the precedent this sets for him: work hard, earn money, get rewarded with an amazing trip.  He did this as an 11-12 year old kid.  That is super awesome!  No free handouts here.  He worked really hard to make this happen.  There were a few times when he honestly wanted to quit, but he didn't.  He pushed through, with some help and support from his crazy parents,  and now he is really enjoying himself.

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I'm excited for this because it sets him up to succeed in bigger and bigger things in his life.  It's the beginning of his pattern of success, like I talked about a couple weeks ago.  I know that God has big plans for this little man, and if he can fly across the country away from his parents for a week at the age of 12...well, this kid can do anything.

What area of your life are you learning to think big?  Are you beginning to create a pattern of success?  Please comment below.

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