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Friday, June 29, 2012

I Choose Dance


It’s Friday, so I’m playing Lisa-Jo’s writing game today here are her rules:  

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Dance” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Five Minute Friday

Here.. we..Go:

Photo credit
As a young child I remember standing on the hard tile floor of the landing on the stairs.  Music played in my head as I shuffled and hit my feet on the floor.  If I wore just the right shoes the sound was magical.  It was the sharp, staccato rapping of taps.

I don’t know where the music went after that. 

Then in high school it came back.  It was loud, high and fast!  Those are the 3”r”s of marching band and how you win all those gleaming trophies that make the sports teams so jealous.  This time the dance is more controlled and in sync with everyone else, but that’s the beauty of it.

Finally a 6 year old’s dream is realized in college.  Where I have freedom to choose, I choose dance.  I choose Tap over physical conditioning, I choose Jazz over bowling and badminton.  The music is there and I embody it on a sprung floor in 2” heels with magical metal plates on the soles – on my soul.

The music leaves again, but as an adult I can seek it out.  I find it hiding out at the gym.  It’s masquerading as hard work and sweat.  I walk in, take a spot near the wall, take a deep breath and every Friday morning I DANCE!


Time

Now it’s your turn!  Head on over and link up.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Sea Is Calling



The sea is calling to me.  Its siren song beckons for me to splash in the surf and dig my toes down deep in the cool soft sand.  My friends, who am I to resist this call?

I am weak!

I must pack suitcases full of shorts and silky tops and FLIP FLOPS!!  There will be swimsuits and sand buckets and sunscreen.  I will workout one last time just to prepare for the loads of crab legs, hush puppies and other goodies I will enjoy.

There will be family – almost all of it from my mom’s side.  Where there’s family, there are babysitter’s!  Not only does the ocean hush my name on it’s waves, the prospect of an evening out to celebrate my anniversary shows itself.  Who am I to resist?

I am weak!

So we will rise early, before the sun, to chase the sunrise down the road.  We’ll meet at the coast as it sits high in the sky.  It’s heat will call us run into cool water and rejoice in God’s mighty creation.  Who am I to resist?

I am weak!

That being said, I will be gone for the next week!

Have a wonderful Independence Day celebration wherever you may be.  If you see me on the beach, let me know if I’m getting a little pink.  See you soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blue Like Halcyon


It’s Wednesday, and that means I want you to learn a new word.  Again, you may or may not have heard or seen it before.  It’s not terribly common, but it is terribly enigmatic – to me anyway.   My apologies to Donald Miller and Tricia Goyer for blatantly ripping off their book titles.

HALCYON

As I start typing this I am right where you are.  I see that word and try to figure out where it came from.  Who is it that puts a Y in the middle?  Will that make the C sound more like an S or a K?  My mind flashes back to my sophomore phonetics class and Dr. Maynard Filter at James Madison, “There is no C in phonetics, only K or S”.  Well, that doesn’t help me much.

I try to think of when I’ve heard it used or seen it in a book.  No books are coming to mind.  The last time I saw it was just a few days ago on Twitter.  A group of people were at a conference and this was the name of the restaurant they had chosen.  Again, no help there.

I go into my mind and it conjures up a vast expanse of sky blue.  Not your typical bright sunny day kind of blue.  No this is a more crystalline or ethereal blue.  But that’s just what I’ve come up with.  So, without putting it off any longer, time to look it up.  I just go to www.dictionary.com

Photo Credit


Halcyon (hal – see – un)

Ooh, this is even better!  I now see why I had the idea of this blue in my head.  Imagine a clear sky, a light breeze and you are taking it all in stretched out in a gently swaying hammock.  There’s very little sound.  Water on a pond is gently rippling on the surface.  You sit up and gaze across a vast expanse of lush lawn and garden.  Topiaries and urns sit in graceful symmetry lining a drive.  At the end of that drive an archway of wrought iron scrollwork beckon to those who would enter.  You stand up and walk barefoot through the carefully manicured blades of glass in a winding meander to pour yourself another glass of lemonade.  Such is a halcyon life.

Rosecliff - Newport, RI         Photo Credit

Are you still with me?  I somehow pictured myself in the backyard of my estate that may or may not be like Biltmore or one of the estates of Newport.  I hope I was able to give you a sense of tranquility, calmness, and peace.  Then, my intention was to give you the impression of wealth and prosperity.  Finally, I hope you were smiling, feeling joyful or carefree.  All these things go into this word.  It’s quite rich in meaning.  Would saying that the word halcyon is, in itself, quite halcyon be a bit too much?

My wish for you is that you get to use this word to describe your day, your vacation, your next trip to the grocery store, your home life.  I’m feeling relaxed now and have had a few halcyon moments in an otherwise crazy, hectic day.  Now where did the staff put my lemonade??



The restaurant’s website has a beautiful photograph and explanation of the word’s origin.  If you happen to have been there, l’d love to know how it is.  I had to make myself stop reading the menus.  It was making me very hungry.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What’s Up, Doc? I’ll Tell You


I’ve been MIA around here for about a week and a half.  It’s been a crazy 11 days!  The 15th – when I should’ve written something again – was my 21st wedding anniversary.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’ve glanced over to the side, seen my photo and thought, “How did she get married at 10 years old?”  You’re too kind, really!

I can’t say we celebrated because you’ll also notice a cute little guy in that same photo.  We’ve lived in our current location for just over a year now and have yet to find a babysitter.  We also have no family within 6 hours of us.  We really only get to go out when we are visiting our family at home – or on vacation with the fam.  That’s the plan for next week.  We’ll celebrate one night while we’re at the beach.  That’s better than the suburbs anyway.


Look how hard I'm oncentrating on taking the picture.

After the anniversary we had 5 members of my family come to visit for 4 ½ days.  We had such a great time.  My sister and I, who you know from Thursdays, went into Georgetown for the day.  It was fun, girly, and totally exhausting!  We then took our kids to a local farm and a splash pad at a local shopping area for Day 2.  The next day had us cavorting at a waterpark.  They all left the next morning after a breakfast at IHOP.  They hit the road and we went to the second swim lesson of the week.  Did I mention that I was getting sick this whole time with a crazy, hacking cough?

At this point, I’d missed two of my pre-beach, look good in a swimsuit Strike! workouts.  Friday morning is my Zumba time, so off we went.  Zumba was really fun on medication and after a slacker week fitness-wise.  There wasn’t even “Five Minutes” for me to write.  Then we were back to a weekend and enjoying time together in the beautiful weather.  At this point, I’m tethered to a box of tissues and my bag of trusty Ricolas.

So that brings me to today.  It’s 10:30 on Monday night and here I am writing. 

So where does the “Doc” fit into all of this rambling?  I saw him this morning and the dear man gave me a prescription for an antibiotic to kick this sinus infection to the curb so I can go MIA again in a week while I’m playing at the beach.

During all of this, I have been able to continue my study of the book of James.  I will finish it before we leave town.   One of the biggest things I’ve learned goes perfectly with Allume’s blog post for Monday – “Riding Tandem”.  I’ve seen directly how my imbalance and life out of God’s word takes my little guy and my husband along for a wobbly, bumpy ride.  I’ve been putting myself in the driver’s seat and then wondering why everything goes off the track so badly.


Photo Credit


When I put myself behind and surrender the control we move along much more smoothly.  Does this mean there are no wobbles?  Absolutely not!  When you have multiple pedalers there will always be jerks and jumps.  Learning to compensate and adjust is the trick.  

So, I’m going to work on getting back in balance and getting my rhythm down.  I ask for your prayers.  I want to be the most effective tool I can be for the Kingdom of God.  Sometimes the tools just need some maintenance.  This is what I’m learning now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Expectation Redux


(This originally appeared as a link-up post for Five Minute Friday but has been modified and completed.)
This post is also linked up on Allume.


I wasn’t sure what it would be like.

We’ve all heard the stories of cooing, of breakfasts of burnt toast and spilled juice in bed.  The sugar coated kisses that come from little faces smeared with chocolate.  The hugs that never end.


I imagined swinging in the park, strolling around town gazing up at the majestic high-rises, splashing in water.




I expected to be tired from joy and fun and care and doting.
What I got was quite different.  Oh there were messy kisses galore and splashing in water, but there was also the dark side.  Those things that others know about, but don’t want to tell for fear of discouragement, or even embarrassment.  The dark side exists and it can be found in the chubby little fingers of a toddler.  These same that fingers that play with your hair and smoosh your cheeks can also draw blood and hit with the sting of a prize fighter.

The expectation should have been to know what was coming and love unconditionally in spite of that.  Motherhood is a journey we often start without a map.  Can we please start being good tour guides for each other now?

TIME

(The following is the completion of this post as an exercise for the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.  The five minutes I originally had left this in an ugly, unresolved place.  Let’s see if this helps.)


Why do we set ourselves up for failure by creating expectations in the first place?  Motherhood is hard.  Darn hard.  And as Lisa-Jo likes to say, I sincerely believe motherhood should come with its own super hero cape.It would be wonderful to have that cape, especially if it came with some superpowers like mind-reading, speed cleaning, and being in multiple places at once.  Wouldn’t it be nice for one of you to be napping while the others of you were doing all the other stuff?

Why do we expect that we can do it all – BY OURSELVES?  I’m sure pride is at the root of this.  At least for me, it seems to be the thing that causes most of my problems.  When in history did moms ever do it all by themselves?  Eve?  That’s the only one I can think of and she had problems with the kids, too, didn’t she?

We live in a fallen world people, in case you hadn’t noticed.  And part of that is dealing with fallen people with broken parts.  Sometimes these broken parts need actual medical attention.  Have we become so prone to gossip and judgment that we avoid the help lest we become the focus of the gossip and judgment?  I would hope not, but I’m afraid so.

When we are brave enough and muster up enough humility to admit what our life is actually like we find that we’re not alone.  Most likely someone else was waiting for you to be brave first.  Then we get the opportunity to encourage and offer EMPATHY.  This isn’t feeling bad for your sister; it’s KNOWING what they are going through.  It’s a win-win!

Real is the new perfect, my friends!

Be honest, be kind, be prayerful!

We’ll survive, but we have to help each other through it.  I’ll make you a deal: if you help me, I’ll get your back for the same!

MOMS UNITE!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Title by Any Other Name


Eponymous [uh-pon-uh-muhs]!  Yep, there it is.  That word that mocks me with its four syllables and that Y in the middle.  What is it about a word with a Y in the middle that makes it seem so exotic or scientific?  So highbrow?


I’ve read it for years, but never really heard it pronounced.  At least I’ve never made the connection between hearing this word and its spelling, much like segue or queue.  I finally hit my tipping point while reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas.  There it was again – EPONYMOUS.  I had to look it up.  This book is stretching my mental capacity as it is. 

I want to give you a few hints first.  If you can figure this out on your own you’ll be much more likely to remember it.  I’m all about you learning as much as I do.  Ready?

I am the eponymous author of this blog.

Romulus was the eponymous founder of Rome.

The eponymous Gilmore girls will live on in television history and our hearts.

Photo Credit


Getting it?  To be EPONYMOUS is to give your name to something or to be the title character of a book, song, play…  Frankly, self-titled or namesake might be better choices for the sake of clarity.  When you want to use those 50 cent words, or if the tone is a bit more stilted, eponymous will fit the bill.

I hope that you’ve learned something and gained a little more confidence.  That can come in handy if for example, you have your own eponymous blog.  I hope that I’ve used this word correctly throughout.  If not, please let me know.  Correction is such a huge part of learning.  I promise it won’t hurt my feelings one bit.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning The Hard Way


Why can’t I seem to learn things the easy way?

Why does it seem that way for each of us?

Is there even an easy way?

This has been in the front of my mind for weeks now.  An invitation was given to join with others for a 21 day fast beginning the first of the month.  A sense of spiritual dryness seemed to be pervasive among a group of people.  This was the course of action that one writer felt was necessary and asked others to join her.  I knew I was there and thought about joining.  I prayed and considered my situation and it just didn’t seem like this was my calling right now.  Another thought kept coming to mind.  I don’t need a fast, I need a feast.  I was so weary, worn, and weak that I needed strength and nourishment.  This feast would be on God’s Word.

To say that my time spent with God had been lacking was an understatement.  Life had felt so hectic and such a struggle.  The end of my rope was so frayed that tying it into a knot was more difficult than I thought.  I resolved to start my feast on the same day as the fast.  June 1 I sent my son to daycare for the day and took a deep breath – for the first time in a long time.

Since then I have been doing an in-depth study of the book of James.  I’d bought the study book a few weeks earlier.  This was exactly what I needed.  Being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger is a focus right now in my life and is making a huge difference.  God is amazing like that, isn’t He?  He knows what we need when we need it.

My question is, why did I wait this long?  I needed this a long time ago.  Why did I have to wait until things got so bad?  Why did I have to learn this the hard way?

The ill effects of time out of the Word come subtly.  They are not like fire or flood.  This works more like carbon monoxide poisoning.  It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless but will lull us to sleep with sometimes devastating results.  The cure: pure fresh oxygen.  This truly is “the air I breathe”.

One of the great things about time in God’s Word is that it develops a hunger for more time in God’s Word.  That desire we wish we had comes from jumping in and beginning to feast.
So, as I pray for others in their fast, I ask for your prayers in my feast.  If you are having your own dry spell right now, won’t you consider joining one of us or the other?  I’m really tired of having to always learn things the hard way.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Dark Side of Motherhood


Five Mintue Friday - Expectation


I wasn’t sure what it would be like.

We’ve all heard the stories of cooing, of breakfasts of burnt toast and spilled juice in bed.  The sugar coated kisses that come from little faces smeared with chocolate.  The hugs that never end.


I imagined swinging in the park, strolling around town gazing up at the majestic high-rises, splashing in water.




I expected to be tired from joy and fun and care and doting.
What I got was quite different.  Oh there were messy kisses galore and splashing in water, but there was also the dark side.  Those things that others know about, but don’t want to tell for fear of discouragement, or even embarrassment.  The dark side exists and it can be found in the chubby little fingers of a toddler.  These same that fingers that play with your hair and smoosh your cheeks can also draw blood and hit with the sting of a prize fighter.

The expectation should have been to know what was coming and love unconditionally in spite of that.  Motherhood is a journey we often start without a map.  Can we please start being good tour guides for each other now?

TIME


This is a joint exercise between Five Minute Friday and 15 Habits of Great Writers – Day 4 – Practice.  This is 5 minutes of raw, unedited writing that I’m putting out there – ugly and all.  This was a topic that I certainly don’t like showing to the world, but I need to be brave and honest with you all.  How else will you really get to know me?  Hope I didn’t scare you off.

If I didn't, won't you join us at either place?








Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Am Many Things


I am a daughter and sister – I have parents and a sister.  That’s an easy one. 
Photo Credit: Barry A MacFadden

I am a wife and a mom – I have a husband and a son.  Another no-brainer.


I am a daughter of the Most High God, redeemed by the blood of Christ – God’s word tells me so.  A little trickier here, but my faith testifies to this truth, so I BELIEVE it.

I am an athlete – I have the muscles and endurance.  Do I wear a jersey with a number or my name on it?  No, but if you could smell my workout clothes right now you would know it!  You won’t see me in London this summer, but you will see me at the gym and I BELIEVE it.


I am an interior designer – I can’t legally call myself that in certain states because of the licensing requirements, but I have a degree and worked at a design firm.  I have photos of finished spaces, tools for the job and a head full of knowledge.  I also have a deep love of design and a desire to create.  So, even though I can’t print it on an official document, I BELIEVE it.


I am a writer – whoa, Nellie – where did that come from?  Well, first of all, Jeff Goins made me say it.  Secondly, I am writing.  What’s the proof?  These little strings of letters show up on my screen to form words and hopefully coherent sentences.  Occasionally some of them are funny, thought-provoking, encouraging, angry, heartfelt, or even instructional.  Further proof is that these words are being read – BY YOU!  You are my witness.

Is it vocational?  No.  Do I consider myself proficient?  Not entirely. But still I hit these keys to translate my thoughts into morphemes that join to form my lexicon. (Go grab your dictionary now.  We couldn’t go through a Wednesday without a new word, or two.)

So here I am telling myself that I need to BELIEVE this as well.  Why shouldn’t I?  After all, it’s what I’m doing at this very moment.  That’s pretty concrete evidence if you ask me.

I AM A WRITER!


If you are a writer, or think you may be, won’t you join us?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Declaration Day – I Am a Writer


The cockiness behind that title is a little very uncomfortable to me.  This is especially true because I always thought and said that I hated writing throughout school.  I even opted for comprehensive exams in graduate school over writing a thesis for this very reason.

The thing is I’ve always had a lot to say.  That abundance of words was never accompanied by the patience to put them down on paper or a Word document.  There has also been a serious lack of follow through on my part.  My part??  Who else would be responsible for this happening, or not?

Today I am embarking on a 15 day challenge under the direction of Jeff Goins.  I will be working on the 15 Habits of Great Writers.  This is day 1!  What is the mission for today?  Declare myself openly and proudly to be the writer that I am. 

Photo credit


I AM A WRITER!

There, I’ve said it, with an exclamation point no less!  I’ll use another just for effect and to bolster my confidence!  Isn’t confidence a big part of success in whatever endeavor we happen to choose?  It’s getting my head in the game, psyching myself up, putting my game face on!  Bring on the adverbs and adjectives.  I’m ready –

 I AM A WRITER!

Are you a writer, too?  Do you write, but don’t consider yourself a writer?  Join us.  It’s early.  Jump in with the nearly 700 of us.  Follow this link to start working on your own habits and shout with us

I AM A WRITER!





Monday, June 4, 2012

I Love Good Chocolate


There, I’ve said it.  I love Good Chocolate.  There are two types of good chocolate.  The first is that amazing concoction that just makes you tingle from head to toe.  Your eyes close and you feel the chocolate melting in your mouth, the tension melting in your muscles, your mind becomes singularly coated in deliciousness.  That kind!  The second kind is chocolate that does good. 

You know what?  They aren’t mutually exclusive.  As a matter of fact, all of the second kind that I’ve found definitely fits into the first kind.  As a side note, there’s a lot of bad chocolate out there, too.  Sometimes I partake of mediocre chocolate, but I just don’t have time for the bad stuff.  I’m not going to name names, but you know you’ve had it, too.

Moving on..

Let’s talk for a few minutes about that second kind.  It can be a little more difficult to find.  Unless you are in line at a Whole Foods or other gourmet market, it probably won’t be on that tormenter of moms with toddlers – the impulse buy rack at the register.  You’ll have to go over to the aisle that has all the candy and chocolate on it.  I know it will be a terrible inconvenience, but it’s for the sake of doing good.  We’ll all suffer through together.  J

Another thing that you will notice is the price.  This might be a little concerning, but it’s also a little misleading.  Most of the “Good” chocolate will come in bars that are nearly twice the weight of a standard candy bar and, therefore, the cost per ounce is not that different.  When you do the math you’ll see.  Here’s a good reason to learn your proportions in math class!!


Look at all the "research" I did for you!

The labels and packaging on these chocolates give you a lot more information than just the flavor and how many fat grams you’ll be consuming.  They are normally Fair Trade Certified and/or organic, even non-GMO.  I’ve also found that the labels are often beautiful.  You get some cool graphic artwork as a bonus.  The labels may even depict a specific charitable focus.  How’s that for shopping with a purpose?  Want to help provide bikes for people in Africa to get to a job?  Great!  Buy that chocolate from Theo – you can get it at REI and online.  It happens to be a dark chocolate with Sea Salt (doesn’t just everything have sea salt now??).


See the little symbols imprinted?  Cool!!

Divine Chocolate prints their story on the inside of the wrapper.  They imprint the squares alternately with their name and traditional West African Adinkra symbols associated with hand-made crafts.  So, you get to learn something at the great time.  You know how I love learning!! Disclaimer: this post is being fueled by Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries that I purchased at World Market – for research, of course.

Why do I care if chocolate is fair trade or organic or charitable?  It’s kind of like the coffee issue.  Chocolate is like the force and has a dark side, pun intended.  There’s a narrow band wrapped around this planet that we live on where cacao trees grow.  This band wraps through less than prosperous regions.  This is a luxury that you would think would be very profitable for the growers, but it isn’t. Wouldn’t you be okay with supporting the farmers and their families more directly than, say, an amusement park?  Just a thought.

I’ve also been studying the New Testament book of James lately.  I’ve been struck by how certain passages can be translated and applied to my 21st century lifestyle and choices.  In particular, are the verses in chapter 5 that warn of wages being held back from the laborers by fraud.  While I haven’t participated in this directly, I feel a certain twinge of conviction knowing that I have the economic power to choose which business practices I support.  This isn’t to say that you must never eat a 3 Musketeers bar again.  It’s just one more example of how living a just life can play out today.

I’ve mentioned just two of the chocolate companies out there doing good.  Do you have another favorite that you would like to share?  I’d love to learn about them.  Now go out and get yourself some GOOD chocolate!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What do I See?





On Fridays, a group joins over at Lisa-Jo’s to write for five minutes flat – no editing, no backtracking, just raw words.  Won’t you join us?  Here are mine:


I look around and it glares at me:  paper, laundry, dishes, bills or that face.  Often it is my own as I pass the mirror in the living room or bathroom.  Sometimes I catch my reflection in the oven door.  Most of the time it is that little one, with the eyes so dark that pupil and iris are one.  Those eyes!  What do they see?  Do they see the mess that surrounds, the harried mom that rushes past.  Do they ever see a smile?



When I take the time to look and not just see, what do I perceive?  Is it the need, the want, the love – all beaming back at me?  Is it the firestorm brewing that no meteorologist can predict? And how do I catch that and hold it gentle in my hand.  To take the coming flame and use it to refine to purest gold instead of burning down the house is my quest.  If only I could see deeper and beyond.



Time


Wow, that feels really unfinished, but so does this stage of life.  I’ll just have to accept that and try to carry on with every grace given to me by God, and hope to pass it along.