A Letter to My Senior

This was not my idea.

 

Dear Bear,

You are such a beautiful soul that I am always cautious when I impart advice to you. But, I am your Giver of Life. As such, I invoke the right that all Givers of Life have to dispense advice whether needed or not, requested or not, right or not, wanted or not. (In this particular instance, I also note that YOU required it of me at the bequest of your teacher; this is not to be used against me in any later therapy that you may or may not need.)

Trust yourself. You are wondrously made. If all people had the heart you possess, the world would be a better place. There will be many times you feel unsure, doubtful, fearful. That’s okay. We all feel that way. Know that you are more right than you are wrong most of time. Yes, this is true regardless of what other people may want you to believe.

Consume at least 64 ounces of water a day. (Water in your Starbucks lattes only count on Sunday.)

You will get it wrong. We all do. When it happens – and trust me sweet girl, it will happen – own it, fix what you can, leave what you can’t, and suck every piece of education you can from it. Failure is not something you are, it is something you do. It does not define you. It does not define them. Grace is a gift I hope you freely give to yourself and others. This is not a trait of the lax or the pushover. It takes strength and courage. Do not believe those that tell you otherwise.

Banana splits are occasionally acceptable for dinner.

Sometimes you just have to say “F(edited out of courtesy to your English teacher)k it” and move forward. Not all choices feel good and safe. Not all choices are fun and desirable. Some things just have to get done, left behind, cleaned up, walked over, turned out, wrapped up, thrown away. This is where life just is what it is. These things, being left to their own devices, only get worse. I promise you, what smells bad today only reeks worse tomorrow. Just bulldog it and move on.

Drink with people who love you. Be the designated driver for those who don’t.

Be real careful what “they” you listen to. There is a whole world filled with the ominous “they.” We aren’t really sure who they are, what type of training they have, what their agenda is, but we are pretty sure they live in their parents’ basement nomming on cheesy poofs playing Dungeon and Dragons. “They” have big mouths and are currently trying to figure out how to make a living trolling the internet. They do not have girlfriends. Easy filter – if “they” insists that everything sucks and nothing you do is right and the entire existence of the world is a big conspiracy meant to create entire subcultures of GMO tolerant, gluten adverse, non vaccinated, obese fast food consumers, breastfed gym rats that poo granola Oreos, you are probably dealing with a “they.” Abraham Lincoln said it best – “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

Semicolons are sexy. Learn how to use them.

There are assholes everywhere; that doesn’t define the “everywhere.” (Sorry, the edit just didn’t do the thought justice. Besides, you’re a senior, you can handle it.) Every sect – professions, neighborhoods, races, religions, clubs, cults, PTOs, opinion groups – is just a microcosm of society. A bad cop, teacher, solider, sailor, politician, mommy, doctor, teenager, old person does not provide reason to assume that all folks in that particular demographic are idiots. Quite frankly, it doesn’t necessarily mean the offender is an idiot. We all have bad days. And we all have folks in our groups that we would rather we didn’t. Boxes are for shoes, not people. Everyone is created as an individual and deserves the consideration of an individual. Of course, if they prove themselves individually to be the designated asshole, take them at their word that’s who they are and move on.

Don’t be afraid of profanity. It is not a sign of weak vocabulary any more than a love of chocolate is a sign of a weak diet. Sometimes, they both just taste good.

Different is not wrong – it’s just different. Your dad likes to cut up his steak as he eats it. I like to cut up mine all at one time. You like to have your dad cut up yours. None of those things are wrong – they are just different. Be wary of people who try to make “different” = “wrong” as they are usually covering up for some feeling of personal inadequacies that I can bet money you don’t want any part of.

Be a rebel. End sentences with prepositions. Unless you are speaking Latin. Or honoring Yoda.

If you realize one day that all your friends are alike, get new friends. I’m not saying cut the old ones loose. I’m just saying you need to grow your circle. There is no better way to become an asshole than to surround yourself with people who always think like you, agree with you, and are a whole lot like you. Nature shows us this. If we plant the same crop over and over in the same field, eventually the ground dries up and produces trash. Diversity in relationship is the single best thing you can do to ensure you do not become stale as a person. It also makes coffee shop conversation much more interesting.

Disregard that thing I said about profanity around your great grandmother. Thanks.

Don’t ever make one decision out of fear. It is my belief that there are only two true emotions in life – love and fear. I don’t have to tell you that one is exponentially more productive than the other. There are times you will find yourself afraid or feeling one of its offspring emotions – hate, anger, depression, spite, resentment. Don’t beat yourself up about that as it is natural and human. It is in those human places that we are able to work through and find those ways to be more human. That is where we find grace, compassion, courage. Make decisions in that space. It is worth the work.

Do not make a habit of eating food that comes out of a window.

Make the commitment to love forever. There are so many obstacles and story spinners out there trying to convince you that love is not the answer. They need your love most of all. Love animals, love people, love babies, love criminals, love saints, love the broken, love the healed, love yourself…always love yourself. This is not always easy and sometimes it can only be done in a detached, acknowledged only in a broad sense type of way. There are atrocities in this world that will bend your heart to the point you think it will break. People will be careless with your emotions and you will hurt. You will look at yourself in the mirror and find an imaginary million and one ways in which you don’t measure up. Don’t be surprised when it happens and don’t let it define who you are. Your heart is the most beautiful thing ever created. Share it, be prepared to nurse it, do not hold fear in it.

My baby girl, there are so many more things I want to tell you…

  • Never go on a second date with someone who is mean to the wait staff
  • Live your passion
  • Never leave home without your sketchbook
  • Sometimes going to the store in pajama pants is necessary
  • Exercise
  • Volunteer
  • Always have a book to read
  • Compliment others
  • You can always come home
  • I am never further than a phone call
  • Diet soda is for crazy people – just drink the regular stuff

But most of all I want you to know that when you feel like it doesn’t matter, you don’t make a difference, you aren’t capable of being in this adult world – you are wrong. You have been changing lives since the day you were born. Who I am now is so much because of you. It scares me to think who I would have become without you. Thank you for growing up with me. I am so glad you are my kid.

Love,

Momma

 

…But I am not stuck up about it

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

Yeah, that will be at the beginning of all these posts. I am kinda serious about it. I realize I can be kinda snarky, this topic is kinda sensitive, and we all beat ourselves up enough. It is important to me that you know that is NOT happening here.

If you missed my First Steps
…or Some Excuses

This is not supposed to be the next step…this revelation actually didn’t hit me until my Daniel Fast. But, with it being the Nation’s Birthday tomorrow, I figured we should talk about cake.

This is a beautiful, nearly ready to give birth, 210 pound April Groves. And 210 may not be so bad…except I started at 130. 80 pounds ladies and gentleman (look at that neck!)  And while my Savannah was a respectable 8lbs 15ozs, that is still little better than 10% of my total weight gained.

Since I was in the Navy, I had to go back to work 6 weeks after her birth. While you can wear your maternity uniform for a while after that, who in world does that? In my 11 years in the Navy, I NEVER saw one woman come back from maternity leave in their maternity uniform. We maybe should have, but we did not.

The Cliff Note’s version is I got down to 160 before I had to go back to work. Yeah, that uniform was a sight. I had a job conducive to regular and extended gym time and a great workout buddy (not as great as you, Mel!) Next thing you know, my post pregnancy body was doing some crazy stuff. So I egged it on. Atkins was king and the gym was my friend. I got down to a lean 120 pounds with muscles to boot.

I learned a lot on that journey. I learned that ~

  • water was the absolute best thing I could put in my body – ever.
  • Weight training is the key to all shape issues.
  • Weights can be heavy, and that is good.
  • Food matters.
  • You can get your body back.

But, what I didn’t learn was the importance of sustainable change. My health and wellness was not in a GNC store or a diet book or a fitness magazine. I thought that it was and I loved them all. But, as we all know, over the course of the years to come, I would put back on 40 of those pounds – and I ain’t knocked up.

I say ALL of that for a few reasons

  • If you have taken off and put on, you are not alone
  • If you have started, quit, started again, you are not alone
  • If you have tried stuff that worked and then didn’t, you are not alone
  • If you have huge goals to make, you are not alone

Basically, you are not alone.

I chose to do a hard reset with my eating at the beginning of the year. I will get into the hows and the whys later, but for now I will just say that the Daniel Fast was one of the best choices I ever made. I read most of the book. In it was my “Damn it!” moment. Face palm included.

Susan Gregory said something that should be obvious. Obviously, it wasn’t. She discussed a situation that occurred during one of her fast times. Her daughter in law had prepared a special meal. In that meal were foods not appropriate for the fast. Do you know what Susan did? She enjoyed the meal with her family.

She cheated. She gave her self some breathing room. She enjoyed her life. She practiced moderation. She was not stuck up about it!

And that’s what I had been. Totally stuck up. Either all or nothing. Militant or complacent. That isn’t a lifestyle – it is a life sentence. And that mentality only leaves you looking for parole!

I came to understand that there are times when strict discipline is necessary, especially during the beginning stages of a particularly difficult habit change. But, while many of us believe that grace and forgiveness are wonderful gifts to give to others, we rarely find it appropriate to gift it to ourselves.

Now, I gauge myself.

  • Have I been allowing too much “moderation?” It is easy to tell – I feel bad. I call them food hangovers or endorphin withdraws.
  • Am I about to partake in something for which I know I have very little control? I try very hard not to eat donuts. I love them. I will eat the whole box. Moderation be damned. Yeah, I need a 12 step. I probably won’t eat even one because I just can’t.
  • Am I going to enjoy this or feel guilty about it? If it is just going to make you sad, leave it alone.

So tomorrow I will probably not have any cake (it is kinda like the donut thing). But I will most likely eat a burger. I may even put cheese on it! Of course, I will probably log some miles before the festivities too.

Because it isn’t about quick fixes – it is about living my best life.

Enjoy the holiday!

 

 

That is NOT what I said

Life in the home has been complicated by this tank top >>>>>

Ok, maybe not this EXACT tank top…but I own one a lot like it.

Ok, maybe it isn’t just this tank top…

Maybe it is this innocent looking creature…

Do not let her fool you…her ways are not for the faint of heart. At 4, she is good, real good. I can only imagine where we are going to find ourselves

Example ~

Morgan: Momma, can we have macaroni and cheese for dinner?
Me: No baby, I am making mashed potatoes.
Morgan: (utter outburst of screams and tears) You mean you are never going to feed me ever again?!?!

Umm…not what I said…

Example ~

Me: Morgan, please take your thumb out of your mouth.
Morgan: But Momma, my body says I have to…
Me: Morgan, I know it is a hard habit to break, but you are gonna mess up your teeth.
Morgan: (another outburst as in previous example) You mean you are gonna knock my teeth out and cut my thumb off!?!

Ummm…no?

And finally (but not only) ~ The Tank Top ~

Daycare: April, I hate to bother you but Morgan says you have a shirt that upsets her. She is in tears.
Me: Really, I can’t imagine what that could be.
Daycare: Well, I don’t believe you own a shirt that says that.
Me: Says what?
Daycare: Well, Morgan says you own a shirt that says (wait for it….)
“I hate my daughter”

Ummm…no….again….thanks….

She quit the club

My Savannah came home from first grade last week and was not in a good mood.

“She quit the club.”

You see, my Savannah has created the “Best Friends Club.” It is a special thing to her. She would like everyone to be in it and is trying to rope her daddy into building the clubhouse in our backyard. We will see how that goes.

After some discussion, the bones of the story is that my daughter’s club is in turmoil. It seems to have a revolving door retention problem. While most of the club seems happy to play tag and collect rocks, there is a fringe group. One little girl left because another little girl left because the wrong nickname was being used. Another left because the clubhouse wasn’t ready yet. This latest episode involved a debate over club ownership.

It struck me how representative this is of adults. I belong to a few organizations and they are wonderful! However, I am sure we have all seen “the fringe.” These are those folks who are going to find the negative like they have “poo poo radar.” Then, instead of working to resolve the problem, they leave. Or worse, they stay and try to make life miserable for those around them. I am not going to spend anymore time talking about the characteristics of these folks or why they are the way they are. I learned a long time ago (ok – maybe not that long ago) that I can only control my thoughts and actions.

That’s when I realize (again) the brilliance of my daughter.

“Honey, if she doesn’t like that nickname, you really shouldn’t use it. That would upset me too.”

She already knew this. After the little girl had quit the club, Savannah went to her and found out why. She then apologized for hurting her feelings and said she wouldn’t do it anymore. Both her and the girl that left with her are back.

She also went to the girl about the clubhouse. They decided that since they couldn’t build the clubhouse themselves and since they already had the playground, that was good enough for now. She’s back in the club too.

The little girl who wanted club ownership got her way. Now, while I am not crazy about this (previously it was an all for one ownership), I think Savannah’s thoughts were, “Who cares who owns it as long as everybody is in it?” For a six year old, I think I will leave this one alone for now.

Communication is a wonderful thing. When we genuinely care about what others think, how they feel and what they want, we can accomplish a sense of unity and collaboration that would have been unattainable before. Amazing things happen when move away from placing blame and move towards making progress. I’ll admit I was proud to watch my six year old navigate through situations that make many adults stumble. Maybe there is a learned trait there that is special to adults. If so, I hope she never learns it.

*Photo credit to Sue RB

Now that you are another year older…

’twas my birthday on Saturday 🙂 And we all know how much I LOVE birthdays. This one was no different.  Husband strategically placed a wonderful card, lots of kisses from the girls, full inbox of well wishes, myspace was hopping, and mom made dinner. Did I mention I had to work? Even that went well. Birthdays seldom disappoint.

My birthday is like everybody else’s traditional New Year’s.  I spend some time reflecting on the past year and planning the next. I never make resolutions. I used to develop expectations. This year I exchanged them for intentions (look for that explanation later in the week).

What went great:

  • We welcomed Morgan into the world!
  • Then I got off the baby weight 😉
  • I got comfortable in my writing skin and developed my blogs and website.
  • I became more involved in my community, both business and personal.
  • I have made some great friends.
  • My career is taking off.
  • I learned to create goals and think in a different way.

What didn’t go so great:

  • WHO CARES?!?! It’s my birthday! This is a whole new year.  I am a busy woman with no time to dwell on past mistakes, hurts, or missteps. I am here in the now, excited about tomorrow and having the time of my life!

That’s what it is all about after all. Recognizing that all the “errors” in life are only fatal if we let them be, hurtful if we carry them around, painful if we repeat them, and failures if we refuse to learn from them.

Happy Birthday!!

The Confessions of a (Relatively) Perfect Mom

I love being a mommy – it is truly one of my favorite things. My four daughters are a joy in my life and I wouldn’t trade them for a thing in the world. Ask them and they will tell you – I am the best mom in the world. In fact, I do consider myself the perfect mom.

***Begin playing sappy music***

McDonald’s is not a staple of our diet. We have family movie night. I am cautious of the movies they watch, clothes they wear, music they hear, and the friends they have.  We discuss values and citizenship. We see the dentist twice a year and the doctor for regular check ups. We discuss stranger safety. Chores are a must. School work is priority – even in the summer.

***Record playing sappy music scratches to a halt***

Let’s get real…I am a great mom, relatively.  While all the above statements are true, let me let you in on some more truths.

We rush in the morning to get to school on time. They probably watch too much TV.  The kitchen isn’t always clean. I don’t read to them for 30 minutes every night. Sometimes I just want to be left alone. They brush their teeth at least once a day, but definitely not after every meal. There is always laundry to be done. We don’t always eat together. I am ready for summer break to be over. Sometimes dinner comes out of a box. Their room is a mess and I am tired of fighting about it. I have made the mad dash to Wal-Mart to get supplies for a school project that is due the next day.

Why tell you all this? Because I believe I am not alone. I believe that there are a ton of mommies – probably most – out there who feel overwhelmed and under performed most of the time.  I believe that these moms (dads too?) carry around heavy guilt that makes the hardest job in the world even harder. I believe that we think we are the only ones dealing with these feelings and ask ourselves why we can’t have it “together” like the super mom who lives down the street (who, by the way, is probably thinking the same thing about you.)

I believe there are far too many of us asking ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?”

The answer – Nothing, except being human.

I believe our children deserve the very best we can give them. I don’t think that looks like perfection. I think it looks like unconditional love. Kids don’t care so much about “stuff” when they feel protected and cared for. Don’t believe me? Watch a kid’s face light up when they get the one present they wanted most.  Then watch his heartbreak when you won’t play with him. The toy means nothing without the love.

We spend so much time trying to be a perfect mom to the world and then feel like a failure when we can’t pull it off. Wouldn’t that time and energy be better spent on something you can do – like being the perfect mom to your kid?

My NewsBowl Champ!

The school year is almost over. We are participating in all the regular end of the year activities.  Today was the Awards Program for Madison.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

She received an award for the Honor Roll – we expected that. Her grades are usually pretty good. But we, and several other parents, got a real treat.

Madison participates in the gifted program at school. Every Friday, she and a few of her classmates go to their SEEK class and participate in various mind expanding activities. One of the programs they participate in is the News Bowl. This is a national program that looks to involve students in learning about current events.

Well, Madison’s team won 1st in the state and 6th in the Nation. Her group received the News Bowl certificate and another for the Principal’s achievement award.

Big congrats to the 4th grade SEEK!!  We love you, Bear!

 

About Me

My father’s people call me Hapa Haoli. The words are Hawaiian; Hapa, meaning half, and Haoli meaning, white or mainlander. My mother is a beautiful Georgia Peach with the hair and freckles of the Irish and my dad is Hawaiian with salt water in his veins and sand in his hair. Both cultures are so rich with family tradition. So, you could say that I am a southern transplanted Hawaiian with a strong sense of family.

I am a southerner by heart, by speech, and by eats. There is nothing about the south I don’t like. From cornbread to grits and from hundred degree weather to 100 percent humidity. I have a drawl, I say ya’ll and a cook with so much ham hock and butter my vegetables are unhealthy. I say ma’am and sir and I can tell you, with pretty good accuracy, where yonder is. I love family reunions, weddings at the bride’s Grandma’s house, and azaleas in the springtime. I love the way southern people don’t move to fast, the way we take the time to say hello and smile. The way we take things easy – we really have no choice – most of the time it is too hot to do anything fast. Most of the colleges aren’t as big, but the football is great. Most of the doctor’s aren’t as rich, but he knows my history without my chart. My history, my momma’s, my two sisters my aunt, our neighbor – you get the point. I wouldn’t give up my Southern roots for all the tea in China – because we drink ours sweet and I don’t think they do.

I am Hawaiian by birth. My father comes from a family whose tree is planted firmly in the sands that are Hawaii. My father makes it a point to impress upon us the importance of the Hawaiian blood. Its traditions are rich and family important. I don’t have any Hawaiian friends. They are all family. They are not Mr. and Mrs. They are Auntie and Uncle.

In Hawaii, you are of the land or you are a visitor. There is no place in a Hawaiian’s heart for disrespect of the islands. The land is sacred. It is a part of the history of the people and as such has embedded upon its children the love and respect due to an honored parent. My father has done his best to keep traditions alive. It has been hard since we live so far away, but he has done well. My sisters and I can cook some of the more common dishes such as luau luau and lomi salmon, and we all dance the hula. The distance between the place I was born and the place I was raised is great, but they are both home.

My family is my rock. I believe that even without oxygen, my family could sustain me. The people in my tree define who I am. My mother has given me the courage to withstand all things. She has taught me the meaning of integrity and perseverance. She showed me how wisdom was important and that taking a stand was cool. She gave me the permission to open my mouth in protest as long as I remember that everyone deserves respect. My father gave me the backbone to follow through. He taught me that who you are is shown more by what you do than what you say, who you know or what you have. Together they showed me that nothing is more important than waking up every morning knowing you were loved unconditionally. I now have my own children to love unconditionally.

My two oldest girls are like sun up and sun down – both beautiful and glorious yet on completely opposite ends of the earth. My littles are not quite so little anymore.  11 months apart in age, they could have been born on different planets. Watching these creatures go from my womb to the world has taught me more about following the journey of life than any other thing I could imagine. The past year has blessed me with bonus babies. A stunning, dramatic girl, and a full of life, big hearted boy. If you had told me a mother could love babies not from her body as much as she did those that do, I may have thought that a huge feat. Not anymore. The joy these six children bring to my life is to much for words. They feed me life. As much as parents are supposed to teach their children, they have taught me more. They have showed me that most answers are simple and most hurts can be cured by a hug and an ice cream. I now know that folded clothes, if left unattended for a second, will need to be folded again and dirt has radar. I have also learned that their best chance of becoming wonderful adults involves being around wonderful adults. In this they have shown me the kind of person I strive to be.

The lover of my soul, the other half created just for me, has given me a part in a love story that would rival any in the history of love stories. I had long given up on the idea that a love like this was in the cards for me. I have rarely been this wrong. In his arms I have learned the true meaning of strength, forgiveness, honesty, partnership, selflessness, and forever.

I have the best friends. They are like a bouquet of flowers – each different and colorful and bringing incredible life into my world. I love them dearly. They are more than friends, they are fellow journeyers. They walk with me down my life’s path and allow me to experience theirs.

My personality evolves everyday. With each new experience my repertoire changes. I grow and learn and increase myself. But who I am, where I am from and the things I hold important are as certain as Georgia Heat, Hawaiian Surf and the roots that have been nurtured by each.

Updated 12/10/2017