Ice is the New Black

So last weekend the state of Texas was shut down due to a nasty ice storm. This was no surprise to me because although I was raised up north, I’ve been in Texas for almost 20 years. (Clue: They don’t use salt here – just sand(??)).

To some, my title quote may indicate a reference to a certain Netflix series regarding a prison sentence but that is not the case. My four days iced in with my handsome husband and 3 maniac kids was a perfect fit. Just like that little black dress or the sleek black pants that ALWAYS make you feel good about yourself. It was a completely relaxed little vacation from the world.

We didn’t clean (much) or decorate for Christmas or worry about anything. My son came up with a new term “relaxed homework.” This refers to his new style of laying in bed, watching television or listening to music while completing homework. (Granted, there is a TON of rechecking going on in this process) It’s easy, slow and low pressure.

My husband played video games with my son, like together…at the same time. While they played they talked. They really talked.

The girls played in the ice and went sledding and played in the ice. They also watched cheesy lifetime holiday movies until we were all begging for them to change the channel. (Spoiler alert: The girl gets the guy…always)

I cooked for real. There were a lot of OOOHs and AAAAAHs when I presented the variety of soups, breakfast items and creative lunches. I felt like a chef lauded by millions (or 4 – whatever) when I presented the final dish Monday night. Shrimp and grits with fresh green beans was a big hit.
I also got a boatload of laundry done but now I’m just bragging.

Now they are predicting another storm front next week. Yeah, I’m praying for ice.

Q&A After A Very Bad Day

So my dad died last week. (Way to rip off the Bandaid, Amy) I know, sorry for that. I wanted it to be out there and now it is. I am not ready to publish details (and I may never be ready – so get over that now) but I will share this much: He had a lung transplant 2 years ago and it rejected.

So here I am sad, without my Daddy and I thought I would share some of the comments/questions I have received, (My thoughts at the time) and my actual response. There really is no right or wrong thing to say and every comment in this post was said with genuine love and concern — that’s why I found them so funny.

Q/C. Do you miss him?

A. (Uhm…wow) Yes, very much.

Q/C. Did He Smoke?

A. (Does it matter?) No.

Q/C. How long will it take to cremate the body?

A. (How long have you been retarded?) I don’t know, a few days.

Q/C. Is there anything I can do?

A. (If you’re Jesus, then yes, yes there is) No, but thank you for your thoughts.

Q/C. He was sick for so long. At least you knew it was coming.

A. Awkward pause…

Q/C. Were you close?

A. (again, does it matter?) Yes, very.

Q/C. Is it too soon to talk about the details?

A. (What? Really?!?!) Yes. It’s a bit “close to the surface” right now.

Q/C. I am here if you need to talk. / You know I understand. / My heart is breaking for you. / Let me handle (Fill in mom or work duty here) this week. / Can your kids come play with mine? / May I bring/buy you dinner/lunch/drinks?

A. (I think I love you! You are officially on my list of favorite people. Godsend!) Thank you.

In addition to being dumfounded by kooks, I was shocked by the sweetness, graciousness, beautiful words and speedy actions of so many of my friends. You are the reason I am able to giggle and roll my eyes at the crazy comments some people make. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say (or experiences you have had in this arena).

Temper Temper

There is a lot to be said for temperance. It’s key in obtaining life balance. Self control is a virtue. A virtue that for me is taking A LOT longer to master than others. I believed that if a little is a good thing then even more would be even better…right?!? Overindulgence would throw me out of balance. My reaction often swings the pendulum in the other direction only touching on balance before I plunged into an over correction.

If I ate too much and felt bloated, I would drastically reduce intake until I became lightheaded. If I drank too much, I would not drink again for months. I would meditate all my time away until my real world duties were neglected then not meditate for weeks. It was always that pendulum; back and forth. Until I stopped overindulging and started tempering my actions.

So, what’s the solution? How do you learn temperance? Enjoying the “now” and understanding abundance is part of it. I don’t need “bigger, better, more” when I can be happy with what I have. Mostly for me it’s like anything else – practicing.

Balance is an effort – a regular day job. I have to work at it, then I get out of whack and I have to work at it some more.

I’d love your comments on temperance – Any tips or tricks (magic buttons would be appreciated).

Abundance – Friend or Foe?

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” – Buddha

Everywhere I go these days I notice abundance of noisy chatter. On television, in the workplace, at home and definitely online. It seems like millions of sources of information vying for attention all the time. Almost every day though, One (or more if I am fortunate) message gets through that seems genuine. Im not talking about the regular interaction with people you know and love – my friends and family are amazing at “filling my cup” and I hope I am the same for them. I’m talking about the vast amount of messages on social media, television, direct mail and the like.

The quote above has great meaning for me. My daughter says that smiley faces are “kind of like her signature because she really connects with them.” I feel that way about that sigh of relief or unclenching of the teeth I hear when I have helped someone find peace – even if its only briefly.

I know many people see the quotes I post and think “Cheesy McCheeseball is at it again” or “I have heard that a thousand times” but I know that for some it makes the difference between a long hopeless day and an added skip in their step. It could be exactly what they need to post to their own page or blog or the words they needed to share with a friend or loved one.

There is an abundance of sour people who care little for others and just want to shout above the crowd to get noticed. My challenge for myself and for you is to add worth to your interactions on social media, add value to your blog in the form of helping others.

Abundance can be a very, very good thing (please be listening lottery elfs) or a challenge (the abundance of dirty laundry in this house comes to mind here) either way – cutting through the excess blather can be the best thing we do as entrepreneurs, small business owners, bloggers or copy writers. Connecting genuinely taps into another abundant commodity – love. (not the kissy kissy stuff – ewe)

Didn’t We Just Do This Last Year?

So I went and checked my “New Years” post from last year (http://keepthefaithdaily.com/new-new-shiny-and-new) and it feels like I may be a hamster on a wheel here. I didn’t set the same goals this year and the bitterness is decidedly less evident but ultimately I am still trying in different ways to be a productive person and help others…and the clock (or cute doggie watch) keeps ticking. So here is what I am going to do….trash it all.

I’m tossing my resolution to be nice, ditching the theory that somehow I can become a better person and create happier energy everywhere I go in one year. Lost is the image of myself as Glenda the good witch spreading comfort and joy to those around me.

The trick is this, I have been working toward this goal and succeeding little by little for years. I am betting outside of weight loss and independent wealth, you have done the same thing. Anyone who has made a conscious effort to be “better” probably is and its not a limited time engagement – its every day, all the time.

This year I am working toward certifications and notable ways to get better at what I do but I was doing that last year and I will be doing it next year. You dont have to put a target on the wall or a label on this year to achieve…although I do recommend a good vision board and motivational essential oils;-)

No Fear New Year

2012 saw a lot of fear for me personally. From some family health issues and friends losing parents to the very public massacres this month, a seed of fear was planted with each new occurrence. Today I am shedding that fear to start new this year.

I don’t have a fear of death myself. I mean, think about it, when I die…I’m dead. It’s the better end of the deal no matter what your belief about the hereafter. It’s the poor saps left behind who suffer. This is where my fear lies…in the left behind. I like my family, friends, kids, husband, neighbors (even the annoying ones), soccer moms and coworkers (the annoying thing fits here too). It would be devastating to lose any one of them.

My plan beginning in 2013 is to live without fear of losing those around me…spend the time enjoying the people I spend time with every day. Here is the “to-do” list (you knew it was coming):

1. Call everybody more. Pick up the phone and call rather than text. Just to hear everyone’s voice. (I may have to up my minutes but its worth it)
2. Go to stuff. I’m pretty good at this but it’s worth mentioning. If someone is thoughtful enough to invite me to something, I’m going.
3. Make “play dates” with my adult friends. Get together with other women once a month. Nothing wild and crazy – just tea, or lunch or a movie.
4. Play with my kids. (This one is kind of a freebie because I already love doing it)
5. Be nice. Consider others. (Even to that idiot I get when I call the cell phone company)

So flush the fears of 2012 (if you even have any) and get a plan of action in place to make the most of 2013…Happy New Year!

A 19th Century Prayer for the 21st Century

I came across this prayer this morning and found it comforting. I hope you will find comfort in it too.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest
And in our hearts take up Thy rest:
Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
To fill the hearts, which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heavenly gift of God most high:
Thou font of life and fire and love,
And sweet anointing from above.

Praise be to Thee, Father and Son,
And Holy Spirit, with them one;
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow.

Louis Lambillotte

Holiday Stress Made Less

This is the time of year we all tend to rush more, spend more and generally stress more. Worries about clean houses, appropriate gifts and party invites can make this a time for blood pressure to rise and bank account balances to fall.

I am no exception to the rule. We traveled across country for Thanksgiving again this year. I worried about what to pack, what to eat, what to entertain the kids with and everything in between. As our departure approached, I started a new meditation routine. I began meditating every time I worried about something outside of my control.

It didn’t make all my worries disappear or magically solve my concerns but it did allow me time to take a step back and look at the situation from another perspective…and it worked. for example: I didn’t scream out loud when I forgot the food I packed for the trip and I barely winced when I returned from dinner with a friend to find my daughter had vomited and refused to allow my mother in law to care for her while I was out.

The payoff for this mindful exercise; a week of being mothered and spoiled by my Mother-in-law. Late night talks followed by early morning fun with the kids were topped off with amazing food and warm cups of tea.

Thanks to a little meditation and preparation, I am thankful for a great holiday and hope to continue this through the coming weeks of more holiday fun and stress. I wish the same for you.

Call Me Crazy…No Really

So as I have posted and posted this month, I have been pushing to get our house and health in order before the holidays hit.┬áHome organization has been the theme beginning with getting the girls room in order, then the master closet (Nightmare) in order and now, the “spare room” will become my office (until one of the girls decides she can’t stand to live in the same room with her sister and …blah blah blah…drama drama drama…boom, I’m out of an office). Anyhoo, back to the spare room.

My husband literally threw many large items into the spare room while we were organizing. I expressed my displeasure in a not so subtle way (expletives happen). Since then, every time I open the door to that room I am instantly mad at him in an equally heightened manner. (in a groundhog day, re-do, kind of way)

Because he became weary of my constant fits of anger, we made a plan to rent a truck and take the broken furniture and extra stuff to the dump and donation facility this weekend. When friday rolled around and the driveway was truck-free, I was fit to be tied. I called him and delicately asked when he would be picking up the truck to which he responded “I don’t think this weekend is a good time with all the kids activities. Why don’t I just take the day on Monday and do it myself,” and those were the last words spoken before the onslaught of my criticism about plans not kept etc.

After I hung up, I realized what just happened. He offered to do this horrible job BY HIMSELF so that he could lessen the stress on me and the entire family and I reacted like a spoiled child who didn’t get her way. I must be crazy! I dialed him back immediately and apologized profusely for being an idiot, looking a gift horse in the mouth and such.

His response: “(shocked silence)…Is this really Amy??”

Lesson learned.

Worst Before Picture EVER!!

Its just so bad and so embarrassing but here it is:

This is my master closet. Messy, dirty, disorganized and a MAJOR point of stress for both me and my husband. About a month ago, I decided to get this closet in order and since then, I have chipped away at this “closet chaos.”

I had a plan in mind for months (that is how long it has been this way) and all the plan got me was, well, a plan. So I gave my husband (Scott) free reign and said ” do what you want to do,” and he did.

He extracted most of the items on the floor and I started on the extra items (boxes and bags of “stuff” thrown in the closet over the 10 years we have lived in the house). ┬áToday the closet is not done by any means but it is much better.

I have faith that I will complete the project before the holidays. There is a lesson here and I’d like to say it is “make a plan and stick to it” or “this miracle change can happen overnight” but the truth is when you load up on crap, it takes a lot of time and work to get it out…and sometimes that means you have to just start work and hope for the best.

You can look at this closet story as a metaphor for life – clearing out the bad stuff and whatnot but the real life takeaway is this. Sometimes you just have to fish or cut bait.