I’m Proud To Be…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What nationalities are you comprised of and how do they reflect on the person you are?

It was submitted by: http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” Walt Disney

I’ve been thinking that if I’d gotten this question a year ago, or even 6 months ago, I would have approached it or thought about it quite differently than I do so today.  To be honest, I’ve never really given much thought to my heritage or nationality.

I’m an American.

I’m white.

I’m parts Native American (Osage and Cherokee), Scottish and maybe Irish (probably wishful thinking, but with my name being Shannon and all…)

I’m a woman.

I’m a mother.

I’m a wife.

I’m a daughter, sister, aunt and cousin, etc…

Some of those things define me more than others.

I’ve probably felt as if I belonged more to America than a particular ethnic group.  What does being an American mean?  These days I wonder.

As a general rule, I avoid politics.  I’m too emotional, passionate, defensive, strong-willed and opinionated to enter into such discussions lightly.  I tend to take differing opinions personally, as if my very personhood is being attacked or threatened.  I know my limitations.  I’d like to keep my friends, so I keep quiet.

I can tell you what being an American means to me.  I think that how I personally define what it means to be an American defines the kind of person I am or aspire to be.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” Barack Obama

I feel we’ve entered into an era of extreme Nationalism, where the idea of patriotism is being confused or misconstrued, twisted into something self-serving, hateful and largely based on fear and bias.

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Charles de Gaulle

I love my country.  I love her beautiful diversity, a rich tapestry of different cultural and ethnic identities, religions and faiths.  A rainbow of colors and ideas, explosive and expressive, reflective and representative of the freedoms that brave men and women have fought, bled and died in pursuit of since the birth of this great nation.  I’m not threatened by that which is different, I embrace it, it inspires and motivates me.  I don’t believe in a world that divides people into an US versus THEM.  I don’t worry that God is on my side but whether or not I am on HIS side.  I’m pretty sure Jesus asked for a longer table, not a higher wall.  Ideologies built on hate and fear aren’t destroyed by the policies, philosophies or ideas based upon those same emotions.  Ideologies constructed out of those negative and destructive emotions are destroyed brick by brick only by love, by acceptance, by inclusion, by forgiveness and by understanding.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” Clarence Darrow  

America, for all her imperfections and faults, IS a great nation.  Patriotism should not be confused with jingoism, which by definition refers to a country’s advocacy for the use of threats or actual force in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests.  I rebel against the idea that there is “only enough” for SOME people.  America embodies the hope that anything is possible for anyone willing and able to dream.  Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” The American dream is an iconic part of our identity.  It is our promise.  Our hope. Our past, present and future.  Being American means we embrace and accept our imperfections as a nation, as a fallible and fragile people, but we work to overcome our faults, right our wrongs.

Being American defines me.  Being American means I strive to learn that which I don’t understand.  It means I embrace inclusivity and acceptance from people or ideas that might be different.  I see the value in the uniqueness of expression.  My growth, spiritually, mentally and emotionally is sparked by sharing ideas and experiences with cultures both ethnically and culturally diverse.  My belief in God is strengthened by these differences, not weakened.  America embodies hope.  Being an American means I’m an extension of that hope which should be reflected in the love and respect I hold for those that may not look like me or think like me. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, beliefs and experiences because it contributes to the vitality of our great nation and enriches humanity as a whole. As corny as it sounds, I do believe good trumps evil and that love conquers all.

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?” Pablo Casals

I don’t know if I answered the question.  I’m not opting for a soapbox or a sound bite, these are the feelings I truly believe and embrace when I ask myself the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” I might have completely gone off script but these thoughts have been weighing on my heart recently and this topic and/or question felt like a path I could take to unburden myself, share my thoughts and my fears in the little environment I’ve created to experience the freedom of my emotions, such as they are.

I feel that being an American is a privilege, and I don’t take the rights and freedoms I enjoy for granted.  Despite the uncertain and turbulent times enveloping our nation, I feel optimistic and hopeful about our future.  I’m proud to be an American.  It is our differences, our unique voices and perspectives woven together that make up the rich tapestry of our Nation.  We don’t always get it right, but we never give up. ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Southern Belle Charm                          http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                          http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Something To Talk About

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

You have 24 hours to spend with an ancestor. What do you talk about?

It was submitted by: It was submitted by: http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

I’ve been thinking about my Great-Grandmother quite a bit lately.  She passed away over 20 years ago.  I know her in the way a child knows a grandparent.  I wish I had known her as an adult.  I remember sitting on her front porch, shelling pecans or snapping beans, listening to her talk, telling stories.  I’d love another chance to do that again, even just for 24 hours.

I don’t know much about my ancestry, but even if I did, I can’t imagine wanting to spend time with anyone else.  Grandma Dowell left a huge impression on my young mind and heart.  Every morning, I’d wake up on our visits to find her reading her bible.  I can thank her for my love of bacon, the kind fried up in a skillet, steeped in grease and love.  Yum!  I can only really remember her being on the porch or in the kitchen.  She was always working, never stopping, those bent and gnarled arthritic hands constantly in action.  I loved going through her purses, she also kept gum or mints stashed in them.  She had a little apartment attached to her house, my sister and I would spend hours playing in there.  I sat, entranced, in front of her television, watching MTV.  You know, back when MTV played music videos.  Videos like Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” or “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.  Oh!  Another good one, “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran.  I know I’m totally dating myself.  Remember “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel?  “When The Doves Cry” by Prince makes me all nostalgic.  I would slip into a music video coma when “Take On Me” by a-ha would come on.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention “Like A Prayer” by Madonna or “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, which was also my first album by the way.  Ah, the memories.  Good times.

She loved me.  I don’t remember her being overly affectionate, verbally or otherwise, but I never doubted that she loved me.  She cooked all my favorite foods.  She spent time with me.  She listened to me.  She spoke to me as if I were an equal, as if my thoughts and feelings mattered, making me feel grown up and treasured.  She had such patience for my litany of questions, cautioning me once that “curiosity killed the cat.” I’d laugh and say but “satisfaction brought it back.” I miss her.  I’ve been thinking about her so much lately, even before I got this prompt.  I’m not sure why.

I wish my kids could have known her.  I wonder what she would think of me now.  All grown up.  Would she be proud?  She kept a box of letters and pictures.  She told me she was keeping them for me because she knew I would be a writer someday, and I’d want them.  I don’t know what happened to that box.  I wish I had it.  She believed in me before I even understand what to believe about myself.  I feel like I’ve let her down.  I let life get in the way.  I let my doubts and insecurities hold me back.  Would she lecture me?  Admonish me?  What words of wisdom would she have for me?  There is so much I want to tell her.  I need her advice, her wise counsel.  She’d probably tell me to get over myself.  She wasn’t shy about giving her opinions.  I loved that about her.

I remember her house dresses.  Someone should bring those back.  I’m a big fan of pajamas that are socially acceptable in public.  I also remember the first time she took her teeth out in front of me.  That was horrifying.  I didn’t know anything about dentures!  I wasn’t allowed to put my elbows on the table, but she could place her teeth on it!  That didn’t seem fair.  She just laughed and laughed.  Her toothless smile wide as she patted me on the head.

I remember sitting crouched in the hallway during a tornado warning.  It was so scary, a tornado literally touched down behind and in front of her house, just missing us.  At least that’s how I remember it.  During the whole ordeal, grandma was in the kitchen making popcorn.  The old-fashioned way, on the stove-top, completely unaffected by the chaos upending everything outside her four walls.  I remember waking up to finding a huge snake in her kitchen.  I don’t remember how she got the snake out or what happened to the snake, but I remember how calm she was in the midst of my hysteria and panic.  That’s the best way to describe her, she was a rock, a stable force in my childhood.

I would ask her to cram all of our shared memories into 24 hours so I could record them and keep them forever.  I’d want to hear more about her life and her marriage.  She was born around 1894, when I think about all the things she witnessed, the history she lived, things I’ve only read about, I’m filled with wonder and curiosity for what life must have really been like for her.  For my birthday every year, she’d send me $1 and a pair of pantyhose.  $1 was a lot of money to her and pantyhose a luxury item.  Things I didn’t appreciate as a child growing up in a generation of X’ers, the world of plenty.  Going to visit her was like going back in time, a slower pace, more thoughtful and deliberate.  Peaceful and serene.  I’m probably waxing poetic about my time spent there in a way that memory allows, I don’t know how reliable are my thoughts and memories, but it makes me feel good, this version I tell myself.  It feels magical and special, a time in my childhood to be cherished.

I’d spend our 24 hours on her front porch, soaking her up like a sponge.  My adult self recognizing how special she was and how luck I was to know her at all, if only a little bit.  She makes up such a small part of my overall history and life to this point, but she made such a huge impact. I’d tell her all these things.  I’d make her fix me bacon again.  I’d share my time with her with my husband and children. I’d love nothing more than to give them a chance to know her, and vice versa.

Everyone should have a Grandma Dowell in their life.  I’m blessed and grateful she was a part of mine. ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy              http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                           http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                           http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                              http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

Simply Shannon                                      http://shannonbutler.org

The Bergham Chronicles                           http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom      http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                         http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                           http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated  Mom                              http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

When I Grow Up                                     http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Disaster, Thy Name Is Me

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Did you ever put your foot in your mouth and then instead of pulling it out, put it in deeper? Were you able to ‘fix’ it or was the situation a complete disaster?

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

I know everyone who actually knows me and just read my secret subject got a very good laugh.  I know I chuckled.  I mean, if putting your foot in your mouth was an Olympic sport, I’d be gold medaling all over the place.  I’m the Simone Biles of awkward foot eating.

Where to even begin.

For those of you who don’t know me well or personally, I’ll start with an introduction of sorts.  I am actually extremely shy and introverted.  My spirit animal is probably a hermit crab.  If I didn’t have to interact, I probably wouldn’t.  I’m better over social media than in person as a general rule.  I always feel awkward.  I suffer from chronic verbal diarrhea.  It’s horrible.  I’m worse around other women and specifically mom’s.  I feel more comfortable with men, but usually am still super awkward or say super inappropriate things.  I really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house, which would be fine by me honestly.

I revert to self-deprecation and humor in hopes of covering up my extreme social awkwardness and foot gorging behavior, but sometimes that really just makes everything worse.  My poor husband…  I feel like he follows me around with a pooper scooper, just shoveling and cleaning up the social disaster that is his wife.  I think if he could muzzle me at times he would, and I wouldn’t blame him one bit.  I mean, I tease and say he finds these qualities of mine, endearing or even lovable, but I’m mostly trying to convince myself.  I’ve always felt I was the counter balance to his more taciturn and serious demeanor.  I’m the Lucy to his Ricky. The Jerry (Seinfeld) to his George.  The Pooh to his Piglet. The Jerry (Lewis) to his Dean.  Okay…maybe not.  But you understand what I’m trying to convey.  Hopefully.

As I mentioned, I feel the most awkward when talking to other women, especially other mother’s.  I don’t know why, probably insecurity.  I feel that if they spend too long talking to me they will see what a fraud I am and how I totally don’t have this motherhood thing down and I’m completely faking it 99% of the time.  I feel as a general rule that everyone is doing the whole parenting thing way better than me, and being complimented on my parenting makes me extremely uncomfortable and I often resort to making embarrassing comments or inappropriate jokes.  I can’t really think of specific examples, I feel as if in parts my entire life is a series of blooper reels on repeat and in slow motion being regurgitated for the entire world to mock.  I know it seems ridiculous, I have great kids, why shouldn’t I get some of the credit, but honestly I really think they are awesome in spite of my parenting skills or lack thereof.

My biggest problem, the way I see it, is that I perpetually feel like a 14 year old girl on the inside.  That mechanism people have that stops them from saying certain things in front of certain people, yeah I think mine is defective or broken.  I say a little prayer or mantra if you will before going anywhere that usually goes something like this:

Please don’t let me say anything stupid today.  Don’t let me forget to make eye contact and smile.  Not a crazy I’m probably going to boil a pet bunny on your stove later kinda smile, just a normal, nice how are you smile.  Don’t bring up sex, poop or private body parts.  Instead of thinking ahead of a witty comeback, actually listen to the person speaking to you, like really listen.  Do: If someone attempts a hug, just hug them back and be grateful they want to love on you. Don’t: If someone attempts a hug, launch into a 5 minute diatribe on how uncomfortable and awkward hugging makes you feel ending in a rather maniacal laugh and claiming you have to run to the loo (I never say loo except in my head because it sounds more sophisticated) because you haven’t pooped in 3 days. Just BE normal.  Be kind.  Be nice.  Again, because it needs repeating, BE NORMAL.  Breathe.  Don’t forget to breathe. You got this girl!

For example, over Thanksgiving, I met my husband at work for the staff luncheon.  He works in a church.  At the beginning, we get in this huge line, and everyone holds hands, to pray before we feast.  I’m not a big fan of touching, unless it’s my husband or kids, so I was pretty proud of the fact that I picked the end of the line and only had to hold my husband’s hand, avoiding any potential awkwardness.  At some point, I realize everyone is looking at me and then pointedly looking over to the left of me.  I’m confused.  I offer up a blank stare, then I look to my left and realize, our line is supposed to be a circle.  The other end of this line that I have to bridge to make the circle is our Senior Pastor, essentially, my husband’s boss.  I thought I only groaned and said “oh no” in my head, but no… I voiced this objection with my out loud speaking voice.  Everyone chuckled,  out of awkwardness I’m sure, and I seriously wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.  It’s not that I didn’t want to hold his hand, I’m just not a fan of hand holding in general.  What if my palms were sweaty, or unusually dry and had I even washed my hands, had he?  I’m pretty sure I licked my finger like 2 seconds ago, will he notice? I picked my ear earlier, I mean personally preferable over a nose pick but still…and not with the same ear picking finger.  I don’t think.  I’m pretty sure it was a different finger.  I think my hands are sweaty now.  Did I really just say no?  Why do I leave the house? WHY? He probably doesn’t even remember this incident, but it’s haunted my mortifying nightmares for weeks.  If I haven’t felt stupid in a day, it’s probably only because I haven’t left the house and talked to anyone.

The other thing I do when I’m nervous or talking to people I don’t know that well, or even people I do know well is that I ramble…or babble incoherently, however you want to phrase it.  This is especially true with someone that I really want to like me or someone I want to impress.  You should hear me in job interviews…oh the horror.  I get nervous and worry about not sounding intelligent or witty so I just open my mouth and holy highway of verbal vomit someone please stop me I can’t help myself make it stop punch me in the face right now please.  I probably need to be medicated.  For reals.  You are now probably thinking, omg she’s NOT medicated?!?!?  Nope.  I’m not.  I’m free-ballin’ this crazy thing called life 😀

I’ve always used humor and sarcasm as a defense mechanism.  It’s hard for me to relax in social situations so I’m pretty much guaranteed to use my foot as an all day sucker.  I have to work really hard to appear more extraverted than I actually am.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  My hope is that people will in general find me endearing and humorous and spend the majority of the time laughing with me and not at me.  I hope they understand my heart is usually in the right place and I never intentionally mean to offend.  It’s much easier for me to share and be open in the social media arena than it is in one on one situations.  I’ll post pics of my weight loss journey all over Facebook and Instagram, but when I see someone who liked or commented on my photo, my inner 14 year old girl is screaming “OMG THEY SAW ME IN A SPORTS BRA AND YOGA PANTS WITH MY BACK FAT HANGING OVER AND MY BOOBS SWINGING LOW AND SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT!!!!”  RUN!  HIDE!  DO NOT ENGAGE!  WARNING!

I’m not sure I did a great job of answering my secret subject this week, but I’ll wrap up by saying, I’m basically a walking social disaster, but I hope you’ll love me anyway ❤

And pray for my husband.

Especially that.  I’m exhausting.

Have a wonderful and blessed Friday!

xoxo

Baking In A Tornado                    http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy        http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver      http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                  http://thelieberfamily.com

Confessions of a part time working mom    http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                     http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

A Little Piece of Peace                     http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                     http://www.southernbellecharm.com

You’ve Got Mail

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

You wake up and YOU are the “elf on the shelf” and you CAN move about on your own free will…what havoc do you create or are you a “good” elf? Write a story and tell us about a day in the life of “You the Elf on the Shelf”

It was submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

If I woke up as the “elf on the shelf”, I would spend my time writing my human self a letter and it would go something like this…

Dear “Family”,

I remember the night you brought me home.  It was late, you were panicked because apparently you lost your original Elf on the Shelf, which you let your spawn name “Spike”.  I tried not to feel alarmed that my comrade and fellow Elf on the Shelf was terrified and alone, shoved in some box somewhere, forsaken and forgotten.  I didn’t even get a new name.  I got a used name, a rather horrific name for a Christmas Elf, but my opinion wasn’t solicited.  Apparently, it’s your belief that all elves look the same.  You thought nothing of passing me off as the original “Spike” to your unsuspecting offspring. Sometimes late at night, I think I can hear the original “Spike” screaming to be freed from his dark prison of neglect.

I dreamed of the day I would be picked off the store shelf and brought to my new home for the first time.  My dream in no way resembled the nightmare I now find myself in.  Every  night thrust in some new humiliating or precariously orchestrated scene of mischief and mayhem.  Somehow I’m supposed to illicit good behavior with these ill-advised shenanigans!  How that works, I haven’t quite worked out yet.  I see how you look at me, with your deep sighs of annoyance.  Often even forgetting about me altogether, and making ups some lie or excuse as to why I failed to move during the night.  I do admit I find humor in those mornings you find yourself up before the crack of dawn trying to find something new to do with me.  Something impressive you can post on that Facebook page you’re always looking at and obsessing over.

This whole Facebook phenomenon is the only reason I think you bought me in the first place, for the second time!  All these adults trying to outdo or one up each other!  Can I be completely honest with you?  Of course I can, this is my letter!  You have many gifts, and I suppose as a parent, you do okay.  I mean, who am I to judge.  My treatment notwithstanding, you seem like a pretty good person and I think you do your best.  I’m not judging you but you’re never going to be the mom who sews her kids Halloween costumes. Or the mom that makes a Whole 30 approved lunch for her child every day, complete with little sandwiches cut into various shapes and characters.  Or the mom that gets up and makes fresh pancakes and berries for breakfast on the daily before school.  Or the mom that volunteers for anything and everything and does a spectacular gluten-free job.  Accept this.  It’s okay.

You’re the mom that throws a bruised banana in a brown paper bag with some stale goldfish, peanut butter and jelly on a hot dog bun (because you ran out of bread and it was at least a whole wheat bun) and a tic tac you found in the couch cushion and calls it a lunch.  You might not be the mom that can hand sew the best Halloween costume ever, but you are the mom that will drive around to 50 stores to find the exact rendition of ninja that your son desperately wants to be. Why measure yourself against what you think you know about other mom’s based on how many likes they get on a posted picture via some social media platform or another.  More importantly, why drag me into the crazy!  I’m just a little elf, designed to bring magic and wonder, and I suppose entice good behavior during the season of Christmas.  Quit killing yourself (and me!) trying to live up to an ideal that isn’t even real!

If you can’t somehow send me back to Santa, to enjoy a long life of making toys, finding a nice elfette to marry and having little elf babies of my very own, then for the love of St. Nick, please stop with the crazy schemes and insanity!  And find the original “Spike”!  He deserves a proper send off as well!  How do you even lose an elf anyway?!?! By the way, nice job explaining my absence so far this season on your impending move.  I’m not asking for much, just don’t lose me.  Surely, I deserve better.  I’ve risked life and limb for you, holding my crazy positions, keeping alive the magic and innocence best expressed in the eyes of the young, prolonging childhood and generating precious memories along the way. If you’re reading this imagining my little elf fist shaking in your general direction, then you are doing it right.  I don’t want to stage a coup, but I am willing to obtain, by any means necessary, if not my freedom then at least a stop to this madness.  As smart as I believe you to be, and I’m feeling generous this morning, you seem to have missed the boat completely on the point of my existence.

Now please excuse me while I spend the rest of my free time doing things that bring me joy.  I’m going to dance to Christmas music, eat some holiday fudge, write a letter home to Santa and a few other special elf friends and because I’m a nice elf, I’m going to take a rag and dust a few of these places you seem to favor propping me up in and around.  I could make dust angels…not to give you any ideas, but I think I’ve developed allergies since living here.  Housekeeping won’t necessarily go on your list of strengths either, not that I’m judging!  I promise.  I’m on your side, truly.  Help me, help you.  Leave the madness.  I have faith in you!  You can do it!  We can do it…together!

Sincerely,

Spike #2

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                    http://www.BakingInATornado.com 

Not That Sarah Michelle            http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles            http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade                 http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver     http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                 http://thelieberfamily.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy        http://dinoheromommy.com/

Never Ever Give Up Hope              http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

A Little Piece of Peace                   http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom     http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

The Angrivated Mom Blog                   http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                                   http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

Letting Go Is Hard To Do

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Tell us about something that you own that you are not using but cannot bear to part with.

It was submitted by: http://Bakinginatornado.com

I had this brilliant idea for today’s post.  I was going to post my first vlog, until I realized every angle was a choice between 2 chins or 3.  I tried using my selfie stick, but almost fell down the stairs, and I did read a statistic once about selfie stick related deaths.  Perhaps a vlog is not the best option for me personally.

My second plan was to take pics of three specific areas in my home that I need to clean out and/or organize but just can’t motivate myself to do so for varied reasons.  Mostly laziness.  My son’s closet for example.  His babyhood is in that closet.  Ok, so yeah you can barely get his closet door shut, but cleaning it out means throwing stuff away or giving it away, which means saying goodbye officially to his infancy.  I  mean I still tell people I’m trying to lose my baby weight.

“Oh, how old is your baby?”

“Umm 10…”

“10 days?”

“Not exactly…”

“10 weeks?”

“Well…”

“10 months?”

“Yeah, let’s go with that, shall we.”

What?  He’s just freakishly big for his age.  Don’t judge me.

Finding any humor in anything these days is extremely difficult.  Which brings me to what I decided to actually blog about today.

Sometimes the hardest baggage to offload or unpack is not tangible or physical, it’s emotional.

I would say this has been a horrific week, but it’s been months.  Months and months of just one hit after another.  The tragic loss of life.  Inexplicable.  Devastating.  Violence so senseless, most of us are left broken-hearted asking ourselves and each other why.  We search for answers, we pray for guidance, we weep for humanity, we rage against the insanity of it all.

“You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Ghandi

I’ll be honest.  I don’t want to relinquish my white privilege.  I may feel I don’t actively use it, that I’ve never been put in a situation where being white was the difference between life or death.  But how would I know?  I’m white.  I’ve never not been white.

“The irony of American History is the tendency of good white Americans to presume racial innocence.  Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege.  In other words, it is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” Tim Wise

I’ll be honest.  When I first heard about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I immediately started forming my argument for why they were to blame for their own deaths, not the police.  Then I watched the videos.  I was ashamed.  I wept.  My heart is heavy.  Even now, it’s hard to let go of the idea that there must be some explanation that hasn’t come to light.  A vital piece of evidence or eye witness account that exonerates the police officers involved. I envelope myself in the peace, comfort and safety of my white privilege and most of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it and that is a huge part of the problem.  Sticking my head in the sand and making excuses for abhorrent, irrational and inexcusable behavior is the root of blindness that accompanies white privilege.  I even hate the word white privilege.  I want to reject it and everything it means, because to me it somehow implies that I’m not a good person or that I’m somehow to blame. Responsibility and ownership are bitter pills to swallow in the matter of racial oppression.

“After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices.  And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful.  To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.” Tim Wise

As I prepare for bed last night, my phone flashes a new alert.  Snipers target police officers at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in my hometown of Dallas, 12 officers shot, 5 dead.

I tossed and turned all night.  All I could hear in my head was the little voice of the 4 year old girl, sitting in the back seat of a squad car with her handcuffed mother, a little girl who watched Philando Castile get shot by a police officer, from the back seat of the car seemingly pulled over for a routine traffic stop, telling her mommy “it’s ok mommy, I’m here with you.”

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Nelson Mandela

It’s difficult to look at myself in the mirror, place my white privilege humbly before me, and acknowledge that I am part of the problem.  I can’t pretend that I know what it’s like to be black.  If my husband got pulled over for speeding or a headlight out or a broken taillight, it would never occur to me to be afraid.  To fear for his life.  My son and his friends play outside with their nerf and/or pretend guns and I never worry that a police officer will mistake those for real guns and shoot first, ask questions later.  I don’t know what it feels like to be considered a threat just because of the color of my skin.  I’m white wherever I go.  It’s the first statement I make when I enter a room.

Police officers are supposed to be the guardians of our personal freedoms and rights.  They are sworn to protect and serve us.  ALL of us.  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even know the questions most of the time.  What I know is that we are divided.  We are bruised and bleeding.  We feel powerless.  We are struggling to catch our collective breaths.  We lash out.  We blame.  We point fingers. We are afraid.  Fear is a tricky thing.  It’s elusive, living in shadows, waiting to prey on our insecurities.  Ruled by fear, we are destined to repeat our mistakes.  We fail to learn from our history.  We fix nothing.  We cannot heal.  Fear cloaks our prejudices.  Fear is the beacon of injustice.  We cannot allow ourselves to continue to be ruled by fear, by prejudice and yes….by white privilege.

“The history of humanity has, to a large extent, been one of groping blindly in the dark, fearing for the future and yet resisting the guiding hand of inspired men who would willingly lead mankind in the path of safety.” Ezra Taft Benson

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want to be a light upon the world.  I want change to start with me.  I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.  I don’t know how to do that, maybe writing this blog post is a start.  I might be the only person that actually reads it but if we change, even just one heart at a time, doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that count?  Isn’t that a start?  It’s not that the conversation needs to change, the conversation hasn’t even happened yet.  We are too busy blaming each other.  We’ve retreated into our separate corners, eyeing each other warily, waiting…watching to see what happens next.  Comfortable in the knowledge that these things happen to OTHER people.  Not us.  A blind eye can be turned, our conscious clear, because after all, it’s not our problem.  What can we do?

“What whites have rarely had to think about — because being the dominant group, we are so used to having our will done, with a little effort at least — is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed.  Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself.  Maybe it is in the effort, the striving for equality and freedom that we become human.” Tim Wise

I don’t want to give up my white privilege.  It keeps me safe, my children safe.  I can’t bear to part with it, I’m afraid.

I am afraid.  Paralyzed with fear.

I’m ashamed of that fear.  It can’t continue.  Change is necessary.  Change is imperative to our very survival.

“Standing still is never an option so long as inequities remain embedded in the very fabric of the culture.” Tim Wise

I desire a better life for my children.  I want to leave the world better than I found it.  Racial oppression permeates and invades the very fabric of our society on every level.  It is propagated by white privilege.  We are the problem.  We are also the solution.  We must be.  Failure should not be an option.

“People never hurt others in moments of personal strength and bravery, when they are feeling good about themselves, when they are strong and confident. If we spent all of our waking moments in that place, then fighting for social justice would be redundant; we would simply have social justice and be done with it, and we could all go swimming, or fishing, or bowling, or dancing, or whatever people do.  But it is because we spend so much of our time in that other place, that place of diminished capacity, of flagging energy, or wavering and somewhat flaccid commitment, the we have to be careful.”  Tim Wise

Change can only happen when we acknowledge the problems in the first place.  We need to shine a bright spotlight on the ugly nature of our white privilege, of racial oppression and hatred.  It’s ok to be afraid.  It’s not ok to bury our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away on it’s own and turn a blind eye so social injustice, violence and prejudice on every level.  Shame on us if we continue to do so.  Shame on us if we do nothing.  Shame on us if we dismiss this as someone else’s problem.  Shame on us.

I pray for guidance and strength.  I don’t have all the answers.  My blog today is probably incoherent and rambling, a testament to how lost I feel in the world we live in today.  I hope that acknowledging my white privilege is a good start.  Awareness the first step in changing attitudes, changing lives.

“Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all it’s afflictions.” William Arthur Ward

Let us be part of the solution, not the problem.  Will you join me?

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/

http://dinoheromommy.com/

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

http://thelieberfamily.com

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

http://mollyritterbeck.com/

http://juiceboxconfession.com/

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Wedding Bells Are A Ringin’

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

Tell us about your wedding . . . or the last wedding you attended.

It was submitted by: http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

My first thought when I read my “Secret Subject” was which one?  I’ve had 2 weddings.  Awkward.  I briefly entertained the idea of sharing the juicy details of my super secret wedding to Adam Levine, but the restraining order prenup forbids it.

I’m just happy Adam is back to looking like his sexy self.  Impending fatherhood does his body good.

Anyway, I digress.  Weddings.  I don’t remember the last one I attended, so I guess I’ll talk about mine, both of them.  They couldn’t have been more different, just like the men I chose as grooms.

Tom AND Jerry.

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Not made up names.  My ex and current husband carry the same names as the cartoon I grew up watching.  I snicker every time I inadvertently use both their names in the same sentence.

I was barely 21 when I married the first time, and we were engaged for a very long 18 months.  I was obsessed with weddings in general.  Even as a child, I was transfixed by the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  I loved books, movies and tv shows about weddings.  I couldn’t get enough, my whole life I dreamed of what that day would be like. I watched Father of the Bride, the one with Steve Martin, probably a million and one times before my Christmas wedding in ’92.  They used to have these wedding shows on the TLC network (I have no idea if they still do), and I watched them religiously.  I loved hearing the engagement stories and watching as they planned their dream weddings.  I could have stayed in the engagement period forever.  I wanted a very traditional wedding.  I wanted to feel like a princess on my very special day.  My family didn’t belong to a particular church but my groom-to-be was Catholic.  Ironically, I wanted to get married in the church I belong to now, but none of us were members at the time, so we couldn’t.  The very same church where I would meet, hubby #2.  We ended up getting married in the Catholic church that my groom grew up attending.  Not my first, second or even third choice but I made the best of it. An omen?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I knew I wanted to get married during the festive season.  My bridesmaids dresses were dark green, poinsettia’s everywhere.  Since I didn’t grow up Catholic, didn’t know anyone who was Catholic, I was unaware that purple was the liturgical color of Advent.  Purple.  Very Violet.  Also means penance, humility and melancholy.  I should have done my research…this was clearly an omen.  Not a good one.

Most of the wedding was a complete blur.  I don’t remember the food, the music or the people.  I do have one distinct memory.  I remember after we were pronounced man and wife, I heard catcalls and whistling coming from the back of the church.  It made me smile.  My new sister-in-law, my favorite of his 5 siblings, and probably one of the very few on his side of the family truly happy at our blessed union.  She would go on to die tragically in a car accident less than a year later.  I think of her often, and her memory always brings a smile to my face.  She did more for me than she’ll ever know.  I think she would have been sad that we didn’t make it for the long haul.  She was definitely our biggest cheerleader, at least as far as I knew.  She always made me feel like a part of the family anyway.  She was a life-force, and I still miss her.  I wish my girls could have known her.

The other thing I remember is the priest who married us.  He shattered all my stereotypes of what a priest would be like, act like.  I don’t know what I thought exactly, but the Father that greeted us for our pre-marriage counseling sessions, smoking a cigarette and telling inappropriate jokes and hilarious stories, was nothing I would ever have expected.  I instantly fell in love with him.  I heard from many people after the wedding, that he gave one of the best ceremony “sermons” they’d ever heard.  He took the time to get to know us, and his message and words definitely reflected that knowledge and insight.  I was very sad to learn that he passed away recently.

I remember my dress and permed hair.  Mostly, I remember how skinny I was and I remember thinking I wasn’t skinny at the time.  My future fat self should go back in time and slap that stupid skinny girl silly.

IMG_0533

See all that Christmas greenery clashing with the purple/violet…sigh.  Or are you distracted by that sexy perm and ginormous bow on my behind?

I don’t understand why my girls don’t want to wear this dress for their own weddings…it’s a mystery.  That shiny satin.  The puffy shoulders.  All that beading and lace.  Timeless is the word.  Am I right or am I right?  I know, right.

Anyway, things didn’t work out how I planned.  My life took a million different turns, each more unexpected than the next.  I wouldn’t change any of it, because it finally brought me my soulmate and partner for life (cause I’m not getting divorced again, so he’ll literally have to die to get out of it – a fact I remind him daily).

My second wedding was a much smaller affair, only family.  My parents had a beautiful backyard, a place where I loved spending time, so I knew immediately I wanted to get married there.  While it lacked the fanfare, pomp and circumstance of my first wedding, I remember almost every detail like it happened yesterday.  I couldn’t wait to make this particular man my husband.  There are certainly days when I need to call on the emotions of that day, remember all the reasons I fell in love with him and merged our two families.  I knew that my life would never be the same.

Our wedding day was sweet, romantic and full of promise.  We were surrounded by the people who loved us most, especially our three beautiful girls.  It was a warm, sunny, fragrant and beautiful day in May.  Even though I remember every detail and emotion I felt on that day, we frequently forget the actual day itself.  One year, I had to pull out our marriage certificate to confirm our anniversary.  We often go half the day thru before we realize, “oh hey, it’s our anniversary today!”  We also struggle to remember how many years it’s been.  I choose to see that as a good thing.

67 percent of 2nd marriages end in divorce.  Those aren’t good odds.  Blending two families is extremely hard work.  There are certainly moments when I wanted to throw in the towel.  No one dreams of their second wedding.  I married the first time intending it to be forever.  Forever didn’t work out so well, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’ve been judged rather harshly by some for being divorced but no one was harder on me than I was on myself.  I felt like a failure.  I felt quite strongly that I had let my girls down, let my family down, let myself down.  It’s not a subject I like to talk about or share.  It’s something I’ve carried with a certain degree of shame and embarrassment.

But on that day in May, all I felt was hope.  I felt loved, protected and cherished.  I knew the road would be bumpy, challenging and would at times feel insurmountable, but with that man at my side, I felt like we could conquer the world, overcome every obstacle life would throw at us.  I was excited.  Invigorated with purpose and direction.  He continues to challenge me, encourage me and inspire me.  I love him more each day, even the bad days when he drives me crazy and I want to punch him in the throat.  It would be a loving punch.  So much LOVE packed into that punch. So. Much. Love.

I wanted to punch him this morning, but lower than the throat this time.  Lucky for him, I was writing this blog and being forced to remember all the reasons I married him.  It probably saved his life. Seriously.

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My babies!  Where has the time gone.

I love this family so much (including you man-child).  In the time honored words of Tom Cruise…

They complete me.

This reminds me…we need an updated family photo.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

The Lieber Family

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

“Whole Kennels of Irritation”

“I don’t have pet peeves like some people.  I have whole kennels of irritation.” Whoopi Goldberg

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

What are some of your pet peeves that you have addressed when other people do them?

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Oh boy… So many pet peeves, so little time.  When I started thinking about this topic, I realized how many things annoy me.  I could devote an entire blog post to just the things my husband does to irritate me on a daily basis, but I’m not going to pick on him today.  It’s no wonder my resting face screams bitchy though, I spend an inordinate amount of time letting other people tick me off.  This secret subject was made for me!  I’ve narrowed the list down to five in the interest of time and the consideration of my 5 readers.  You’re welcome!

ONE:  THE AISLE HOGGER

Oh, please park your grocery cart in the middle of the aisle while you peruse at your leisure.  It’s not like anyone else matters, please by all means continue acting like you have the entire store to yourself.  Don’t worry about me at all.  Oh, yeah sorry I’m making such a ruckus knocking everything off the shelves while trying to squeeze my cart in the narrow space you have so graciously left open to me.  Now I could probably say excuse me, could you please move your cart, but let us not interject reason and sensibility here.  The hogger sees me coming.  They know I’m there.  They see me struggling.  Besides, I much prefer the passive aggressive route of loud sighing, banging my cart against the shelves and mumbling under my breath, all of which continue to go ignored by the aisle hogger.  Passive aggression works both ways.

TWO: THE PERSONAL SPACE INVADER

The only thing that might peeve me more than the aisle hogger when I’m at the grocery store is the personal space invader.  Why are you practically standing on top of me while I check out?  Are you trying to read my PIN number? You won’t get far with the funds in my depleted checking account, I promise you.  And could you not let your kid pick his nose and then fondle my bananas please.  I don’t allow my husband to stand this close to me, why would you think it’s ok to take such liberties.  You’ve taken quite the interest in the items I’ve placed on the belt today.  Do you see the chocolate and tampons?  Yeah, that should tell you something.  STEP OFF!  Again, I prefer the indirect approach when dealing with these types.  More loud sighing and muttering under my breath.  If I’m feeling particularly peeved, I might even shoot a dirty look or two.  Not that this person would notice, as far up my jock as they are at the moment.

THREE: THE SPATIALLY UNAWARE

Very similar to the space invader, these offenders will sit next to you in a movie theater or on public transportation even though there are literally hundreds of options.  We have the whole rail station to ourselves, but please by all means take the seat right next to me cause that’s not creepy at all.  I especially love the men that do it and then proceed to sit with their legs splayed out blocking all entrances and exits and leaving you feeling caged and trapped.  Seriously though what is up with guys who sit with their legs all spread out?  Are we supposed to be impressed?  I’m supposed to think “WOW, he must be packing some serious heat if he has to sit like that! I wonder if he’s single!!” Don’t sit next to me in an empty movie theater either!  I never know which cup holder is mine and I don’t want to listen to you munch down on your popcorn and greasy nachos.  Not to mention, I’ll be paranoid the whole movie about why you chose that seat above all others and I won’t be able to enjoy myself because I’ll be too busy giving you the side eye waiting for something bad to happen.  Of course I would never say anything, because that would be rude obviously.  Besides, my body language really speaks for me, so shame on you for not being observant enough to notice!

FOUR:  THE ONE UPPERS

My husband can be particularly bad at this one.  I know I said I wouldn’t pick on him, but I lied.  I’ll mention something like “Gosh, I didn’t sleep at all last night.” To which he will reply, “Yeah, I haven’t slept in days.”  Really?  Cause when I was staring at the ceiling last night, I was counting your snores instead of sheep.  A couple of weeks ago, I was having a particularly rough menstrual cycle.  I mention to my husband how much I’m cramping and how yucky I feel to which he replies, “Yeah, my stomach hasn’t felt so good today either. I don’t think I can eat tacos anymore.”  Really?  I literally want to dig my uterus out with a spoon at this point the pain is so intense, not to mention I’m pretty sure I’m bleeding out, and you’re going to talk about your poop problems?  SERIOUSLY?  I am bordering homicidal at this point, watch yourself buddy!  I manage to somehow control my rage and only give him the stink-eye to which he replies, “What?  What did I do?”  And he’ll say it while doing his Bill Clinton impersonation. So. Freaking. Peeved.

My other favorite is when we are in the midst of a pretty intense argument of some kind, and I’m making some really valid points but I can tell he’s not listening at all, instead he’s busy planning his rebuttal.  How can you plan a rebuttal when you don’t even understand all the nuances to why you’ve screwed up in the first place! Is it any wonder, I’m contemplating filing my tampon to a fine point and using it as a weapon!  No jury would convict me.  At least I’d finally get a captive audience.

FIVE:  NICE TO MEET YOU…AGAIN

I’m terrible with names and faces.  I’m the first to admit this and I recognize it as one of my many shortcomings.  Which is why, when I’m not sure if we’ve met before, I’ll just say something like “nice to see you.”  Nothing irritates me more than meeting someone for the first time for the fifth time.  My husband has a job where he has to interface with many people and I understand that I’m just “the wife” but honestly is it really that hard to remember if you’ve met me previously?  Am I that forgettable?  I’m often tempted to call them out on it, but I know it’s not done purposefully to hurt my feelings.  I can’t take it personally, except I do.  No one wants to feel invisible.  It doesn’t feel good.

What I’ve discovered over the last week while sorting through my list of pet peeves is that most of them just involve a little self-awareness.  We are probably all guilty of all of these and many more at one time or another.  It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives, our own problems and issues and fail to notice how our actions and behaviors affect those around us, both those people we know and those we don’t know.  I passed a woman in the parking lot the other day and she said “I love your workout pants, so cute!”  She made my whole day.  It was such a stupid little thing, but the 2 seconds she spared to throw a tiny compliment to a stranger, changed the course of my entire day.  I had an extra spring in my step.  I felt pretty adorable in my cute workout pants and in turn I was a kinder, gentler and perhaps nicer version of my usual self.  Kindness is catching, so are smiles.  Spread them around today ❤

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/

http://dinoheromommy.com/

http://thelieberfamily.com

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/