back by popular demand

So apparently when you post ridiculously embarrassing videos of yourself on your facebook page....and then hit the can get a little awkward.

Especially if you mention your crotch in those videos.

And even worse, several people were sad that they had missed out.

So I am being stupid, not once, but twice and reposting this again! No promises on how long I will keep it up this time...

and because I have none....a good talk on shame by Brene Brown. And I should admit. I haven't even watched it all the way through. Mostly becuase I'm still reeling a little from her first talk.

keeping track

#253 green wigs and fun runs

I think gratitude journals were all the rage 15-20 years ago.
Oprah probably started it.
My mom had one I think, she kept it in her desk top drawer. Just a few things jotted down each day that you were grateful for. I skimmed it a few times. Probably looking for my name or trying to understand the point. Thinking it sounded boring. And besides who needed to write down things that made you happy. It was easy enough at 16 to remember.
A good song on the radio turned up loud.
New jeans.
And pretty much anything related to a cute boy.

I used to read a lot of blogs. And a few years ago everyone was talking about the same one. Anne Voskamp. Because she kept track every Monday. Her own online little gratitude journal and you could link up and add your own.
And even though some of my friends did, I never played along.
And her book came out and I was eager to read it. And it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. 1000 gifts, and the point was to write down 1000 things you were thankful for.
I soaked in her words and admired her story.
But I still never started my own list.

For some reason. Back in October I did.
And I have to tell you October really sucked.
I had just spent almost a week in the hospital and was still feeling run over.
I cried almost every day on my way to work.
My husband was traveling a lot. And I am not a good long distance wife or single mother.
Several of my friendships were in disarray and the ones that weren’t, I was neglecting.
And a few other things that feel too personal to list here.

Things are much much better.
My wounds have healed. My husband is back in town. Work is more good than bad. And I have learned to value the friends that stuck it out. That showed up with food or coffee or just listened.

“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand.” Madeline L’Engle

I love that quote.
But what I hate is falling on my ass.
And my slowness to get back up.
But there is something beautiful in getting back up.

And so when I think back to October, I don’t remember feeling gratitude for much of anything. I remember feeling knocked down. But apparently this was the time I chose to start keeping track of the good stuff.
And so I can look back and tell you exactly 47 things I was grateful for that month.
The same month I’d rather forget. But I'm so glad I didn't because I might have forgotten about long runs, my daughter’s curls, laughing hard before 8am, those really thin chips at Chueys, giant pumpkins and people I didn't expect looking out for me.

I’m not great at anything that takes consistency.
I don’t write down stuff everyday.
Sometimes I lose my list. Sometimes I forget to hit save.
But I’ve made it to #256.
Which was purple sunsets in case you were wondering.
(and #255 was fig goat cheese and chicken soup – thanks Tina).

Tonight I skimmed the list I’ve been keeping. I’m not sure I have ever read over it and I noticed a few things. First I am a little too thankful for good food. Not quite balanced out by my not quite as often good runs.
More importantly, many of the days I sat down and wrote things I was thankful or grateful for, were probably the days I was least likely to feel it.

Tonight for example, I was on my way home from WalMart (which is depressing enough as it is), wishing I was out somewhere drinking myself silly on green beers with all those people out there posting about it on facebook, rather than heading back home to hang laundry (ok, my husband actually hung the laundry #254) and hoping I can make it past 9:30 pm before crawling into bed. And suddenly I noticed that sky was purple.
Shockingly beautifully purple.
And I wanted to write it down.

Madeline L’Engle didn’t mention how to get back up.
But I’m pretty sure writing it down had something to do with it.

The P word (or alternately titled: damn you pinterest)

I’ve never been able to draw. I always lost at Pictionary. And my students often laugh at my attempts to sketch anything on the board. But I have never let that try to stop my artistic expression or creative outlets.
In middle school I saved magazines pictures and made crazy collages. I covered my trapper keeper, walls, inside of my locker and mix tape covers.
In high school all of my artistic expression was focused on trying to figure out how to apply eyeliner without looking slutty ( I still haven’t figured this out) and deciding which cute boy’s last name looked best next to my first name.

In college we decorated our apartment with posters of James Dean and pretty much anything you could find at Hobby Lobby. I briefly and unsuccessfully attempted some mosaic and one very bad quilt about the size of a pillowcase.

And then I got married and moved and was all about playing house.

I watched Trading Spaces religiously. Because Ty was actually young and hot and not nearly as obnoxious back then. I sanded off all the paint on my boring dining room set and painted each piece a different crazy color. (On the Border was my motivation. And yes, I know I should be embarrased to admit that). I had even crazier ideas like wallpapering my bathroom with fortune cookie fortunes. And my husband tried to make little mini fountains. I blame Frank and Vern for these terrible ideas. When I first moved here I even took a stained glass class. And stain glass involves a soldering iron (hot) and lots of planning, precision, and attention to detail. I was a stained glass dropout with more than my share of burn blisters.
My friends started scrapbooking. And was a social crafter. I scrapped and cropped with the best of them. I even had a stampin up obsession. I’d scrounge ebay for stamps, bid my heart out and made more cards than I ever sent. (for the record, the last card I made involved giving my kid a marker and begging them please please not to draw on anything but the paper…and while they were at it…write happy birthday).  My most favorite of the crafting phases involved modge podge. And I can do some amazing things with modge podge and I love buying paper. But once I accidentally modge podged some of my student’s quizzes that I should have been grading to my brightly painted kitchen table and decided that was the end of that.

 And then, I had kids.
I hand made each of Owen’s birth announcements.
Made it through the first 4 months of a scrapbook and I havne’t cropped since.
I told my friend to sell some of those stamp sets on ebay.
And my modge podge is all dried out.

 I have several friends who are photographers, and one generously lent me (for the last 3 years) one of their cameras. And I shot my little heart out. I even took a few classes. But when they start talking ISO and appeture my eyes glaze over. I tried. I really did. And still think I take some decent pics. But they are so much better at, and I am more of a leave it in  auto kind of girl.

My crafty days are over. And I’m saving my artistic skills for things like helping my son make dioramas about Tigers in their natural habitat. (He of course, refused to let me help…and when I questioned him told me that Tigers live in Asia, so he was naming his project “Tiger – made in China”. I’m not sure he knows he is being funny. But either way I love that kid more than modge podge.)

And so, when I started reading stuff about Pinterest online last summer I checked it out. It was still pretty new and mostly just cool stuff people liked, quotes and decorate-y things. Within 10 minutes I had ordered 2 things I saw on someone’s board online and decided that maybe I should avoid the P word. Before someone repossessed my car.

Because I do not have this thing that most people have called self control. Or moderation. And I could have a phD in procrastination, so unlike most of friends I have stayed off pinterest. (just like I don’t do twitter or words with friends….because I’d never ever leave my couch if I did).

But Pinterest kept growing. And people were talking about all the cool recipes and artsy craftsy things they saw.  At lunch people would talk about how they learned how to make their own dryer sheets and other useless things like that or the cutest homemade valentines ever. (and seeing how my kids needed 20+ each, going to Target seemed like a lot of work to me….much less anything that involved scissors or glue and especially fingerpainting).  So still not pinterest for me. Although I will admitting to often clicking on people’s pins when they post stuff from their to facebook. But it often involves me trying a new recipe or feeling inadequate about the fact that I don’t make my own homemade breakfast cereal or the cutest dress from socks that have lost their mates. So I try to resist the temptation. To buy stuff. To feel inadequate. And to craft.

But today, I clicked. I couldn’t help myself. It was a kids arts and craftsy project from my favorite verse. Micah 6:8. It involved hand and foot prints and the other p-word. (paint!) and while I cooked up some new recipe that I probably also saw on pinterest I grabbed a marker, a camera and attempted to get my do-it-yourself-middle-aged-mom-artsy-craftsy-cutesy thing on.

 I kind of stunk at it. But mostly because I did it all in the time it took for the cheese to melt on our eggplant burgers.

 Dinner burned a little. My kids now think it is a great idea to write on themselves (ok, Tess has been doing this since she could hold a marker), and I now have a craving to modge podge something. Maybe all those papers I still haven’t graded.

(speaking of artsy-craftsy and drawing on yourself... check out this video. I did not find this on pinterest...but did see it on facebook......and there is a reason it has over 97 million views. I bought the song earlier this week before seeing this video and have been listening to it on repeat....but now i like it even more. maybe if i had a pinterest page I'd pin it!....)

on the road

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent 4 nights in a hotel. 2 on a greyhound bus. Driven through 4 states, run a half marathon and danced on more than a few desks.

I had lunch with friends from high school, ate my weight in Mexican food with my sister-in-law, had dinner with old college friends, snuck in time with some old camp friends, and went to prom and danced my face off with some new ones.

Alone time is rare for me, but for the last two weeks I have had almost more of it than I know what to do with. I got to run whenever I wanted. Sleep in the middle of the bed. Pick the TV channel. Which are all great. But the best part was that I finally remembered.

I remembered who I was and more importantly who I want to be.

Lately I have had a long stretch of forgetting. Forgetting what I’m good at. What I value. What I don’t. What is worth it. And what isn’t. I lost my debit card in Birmingham, left a pair of yoga pants in Austin, lost a lot of sleep. But found, some of the confidence that I seemed to have misplaced for months. In completely unexpected places. In unmet expectations. Gas stations. Truck stops. Trailer parks. Old abandoned factories turned into schools. Bathroom drawers and mostly over meals shared with friends. In chains. Kitchens. Parking garages and pubs.

 In Austin, I ate with one of my oldest friends and nothing about the conversation surprised me. She pressed and pushed and made me talk more than I wanted about feelings I didn’t want to face. I’m pretty sure she has been doing that since 2nd grade and I miss it. I saw one of my favorite campers and remembered that we change. We grow up. We get boring jobs and car insurance.  But what draws you to someone in the first place never goes away. And I ran a race and realized that it isn’t so much about what time you finish in, but who you finish with. In Atlanta, I caught up with a friend who is living the life that I mostly just read about. One of living simply, intentionally and in community. I left with new books to read, but also pushed to live out more of what I read. I got to do one of my most favorite things. Run and get lost in a new city. In the rain. I spend days with people reminding me of what I love most about my job. And getting me fired up to be better at it.

And I had a good long bus ride home to thing about these things.
That doing hard things, comes from hard work.
That passion is more important than a clean desk or graded papers.
And passion is easy to squelch. That you have to protect it. And that it is worth it.
That walking away just isn’t me.
That I still have a long way to go. And speaking of long way…next time I am flying.
That moving up isn’t always the goal.
That sometimes more is just more. And I want less of it.
That I’m not a good dancer, but that isn’t going to stop me from tearing up the dance floor.

And most of all, that I was ready to be home.