Let It Go…Again

Let It Go.

It’s not just an overplayed Disney song (my apologies if you’re singing it now), it should be a way of life.

I am guilty of obsessing over trying to fix things that I may not be able to fix. I spent my morning doing just that.

Ever since my husband’s employment status changed last year, our income took a hit. We were living comfortably until then. Not richly, but comfortably. Taking a vacation was not out of the equation. Paying for the unexpected car repair wasn’t a choice between eating steak or ground round. Fortunately he found work within two months, but at a significant pay cut. And we feel it.

I can easily fall into the trap of juggling numbers and stressing over bills, and trying to pay for the dentist bill, the cable bill, and our children’s college all at once. By the way, my oldest won’t start college for 4 more years, but that won’t stop me from pretending that Rush Week starts on Monday.

I could get two more jobs, reinvent myself, put the kids to work (not really), or I could keep on trucking. I mean, we aren’t poor by any measure. We get by just fine, it’s just that the budget is tight and we have to account for every penny. Mostly that’s because of my own fear. I’m the penny pincher. My husband is much more relaxed about our provisions than I am. But I think that’s the difference in our personalities.

That’s where Elsa’s song comes to mind. But before Elsa knew to sing about letting your fears go, Jesus knew it. In fact, he instructs us to do it. He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. So why does it take me so long to figure it out? Why do I let it go only to pick it right back up again?

I think it happens most often when I’m not walking beside Him. When I’m not seeking Him daily. When I don’t hear His voice in my ear, then I tend to fill it in with my own voice. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my voice can NEVER replace God’s. But isn’t that exactly what I’m doing while I’m obsessing and stressing? I just need to trust, to listen, to let go and let God.

I need to work on that. What things in your life do you keep picking up that you really should let go?

I’ve Lost My Social Skills

 

It seems the older I get, the less social I am.

I think part of that is a natural progression of getting older. I’m in my late 40s and priorities are different than they were when I was younger. The days of “Mom Groups” are long gone, walking kids to school isn’t necessary, and moving across the country a few years ago definitely put a dent in my social calendar. By way of circumstance, I’m just not exposed to as many social situations as I used to be. The opportunities aren’t there.

We haven’t fully established ourselves at a church, which is entirely our fault. But I have to admit, I feel a bit like the weird girl in the corner when I go to a social event these days.

Other than “Did you finish your homework,” or “please put your laundry away,” and “get off the computer,” my vocabulary has become somewhat limited. Can anyone else relate?

My husband and I made an intentional effort to reach out to new people this weekend, which is always awkward because I’m the extrovert and he’s the introvert. It makes for an unusual social combination. We went to a class at church instead of attending the main church service. There were about 24 men and women in the class, and everyone was friendly and welcoming…and WORE NAME TAGS! I’m terrible with names. You can tell me your name, I’ll repeat it, say “nice to meet you” and your name is erased from my memory. But seeing it written on a nametag, that’s my saving grace!

So, we enjoyed the class which had a “Parenting” theme, and there was time for fellowship and small talk. But for my husband and I, there always comes a time when we just run out of things to say. We aren’t good at “inventing” conversation. In fact, we’re TERRIBLE at it! After class, we said our quick “goodbye’s” and headed out to pick up the kids from their Sunday school classes.

We completely missed our opportunity for further fellowship! We panicked at the thought of inventing conversation and got out of there as soon as it was over. We noticed after we were down the hall, that everyone else lingered behind and visited some more. We blew it.

But we aren’t giving up. We won’t be back next week, since the class isn’t meeting because of Easter, but we will be back after that. Fortunately, it is a year-round class, leaving us plenty of opportunity to sit tongue-tied lots more times.

We are determined to make new friends…at least I am. My husband is perfectly happy with a book, but I cannot live by book alone.

Oh, the best part of the class? Not a single person had their phone out! No one was texting!

Do you struggle making friends as you get older?

Letter to my teenage children

 

It’s a precarious tightrope that parents walk: wanting to keep you safe and needing to let you go.

I need to give you enough rope to wander away, but not lose sight of home, yet still enough to pull yourself back home without getting tangled up in the process.

I want to guide you and help you with the circumstances that cross your paths, but I want you to use the tools we’ve given you to try to solve your own problems.

I want to give you freedom to experience things in your young life that will help form your opinions, your relationships and your joy. I want them to be your opinions and not mine, even if they are different from mine.

I can’t be there all the time. The world is a big place. It’s a place of wonder, a place of amazing sights and sounds, and, unfortunately, a place of danger too.

So how do I protect you without smothering you? How do I wait patiently by while you may not make the choices I would choose for you? How do I let you go and hope that you remember everything we’ve taught you? How do I know that you will come home when you get in over your head? How do I know you’ll seek wise counsel, even if it isn’t mine? I have to have faith.

I know you’ll try things you shouldn’t because, like you, I was young and curious once too. I know you’ll make mistakes, because I have, and still do. I pray those mistake can be reversed.

I hope that you find love, but not at the expense of your self. I hope you find success, but not at the expense of love.

So here’s where I have to trust. Here’s where I have to let you make your own decisions, and hope that I’ve equipped you well.

Here’s where I begin to set you free into the world, and hope you remember that you can always come back home.

The door will ALWAYS be open, the table will ALWAYS be set, and I will ALWAYS have the time.

Love,

Mom

One Key to Surviving Working (and Staying) at Home

Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom working to raise your family, or an employee working remotely, or a freelancer making your own hours, spending that much time confined to your home can be draining, if not downright depressing.

My fellow wordpress blogger over at “For the Love of Myself Blog” wrote a post the other day that inspired me to add my two cents to this dilemma. Be sure to check out her insightful blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

Most posts will tell you that you NEED to get out and be with people and I COMPLETELY AGREE because I’m an extrovert. I need people to help me regenerate.

Winters can be long, depending what part of the world you’re in. When it snows here, I can go days without seeing anyone but my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they aren’t enough to feed my extroverted soul.

I think the key to making your “stay-at-home,” “work-at-home,” “work remotely” job work for you can be summed up with one phrase: HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO.

Without something to break up your week, you will feel like you’re living a real life Groundhog Day, over and over.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom with babies, having something to look forward to meant having play groups, or Mommy and Me classes. Once the kids went to kindergarten, it meant coffee with friends. I was lucky to have a small group of friends in the neighborhood that could also take time out of their morning for a coffee break.

When I went back to work, part time, from home, it meant having a “scheduled activity” every week. That’s the key for me. It HAS to be scheduled, or I will find too many other things to fill the space: laundry, doctor’s appointments, cleaning, and more laundry.

However, there will be times when no one is available; your schedules won’t quite jive. But ALWAYS have a back-up plan in place. If you’re CRAFTY, start on the project that keeps getting shoved to the side. If you’re a READER, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to, and read it OUTSIDE. Schedule time at the GYM, or take a YOGA CLASS if that’s your thing. If you still have babies at home, put them in the stroller and take them with you for a WALK around the block.

TAKE A CLASS at the local college, or a go to a Bible study. Check out what’s happening at your LOCAL LIBRARY – mine always has groups getting together. VOLUNTEER for your favorite cause – a lot of local charities don’t ask for much of a time commitment, but they need all the volunteers they can get. Plus, if you’re a SAHM that plans on going back to the corporate world some day, you can list your volunteer experience on your resume.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Working at home (whether SAHM or remotely) is hard. Nobody tells you that part. I’ve had many dark days where it felt like the walls are closing in, and I haven’t always made the choice to break out of the funk. But you will be much happier if you have something to look forward to that breaks up the monotony.

If you’re a SAHM or work from home, what things do you do to stay sane? Feel free to add any suggestions.

Wanted: Literary Agent

I received another rejection for my manuscript today. I’ve heard that’s supposed to be a good thing, that you should file your rejections away somewhere so that you can learn from them. But it still stings, and is very frustrating. Sometimes I wish there was a sort of “dating” website for literary agents.

I wish I could place an ad, send it out to the literary universe, and then wait for the agents to find me.

Wanted: Literary Agent for dedicated writer. Women’s fiction writer seeking agent for long and profitable relationship. If you represent character-driven, female-centric stories, please contact me. No sparkly vampires, no over-the-top supernatural plot lines. If you like flawed characters that fight with their inner demons, or females who join forces to make their lives better, then let’s talk.

But, sadly, that’s not the way it works. It’s not that I haven’t done the research, because I have, and will continue to do so. But the odds of finding the RIGHT agent that represents what I write AND that is accepting new clients AT THE VERY MOMENT that I query, seems more and more to be a real luck of the draw.

I appreciate all of the “How I Found My Agent” posts that I read, but they really aren’t very helpful, because finding an agent is such a unique and individual experience. Sure I can learn from someone else’s experience, or their mistakes, but the odds that their unique situation will be remotely similar to mine are rare. Not to mention that most of those posts or articles are written by people that got an agent within their FIRST FEW queries. Rarely do I read one that says, “After 175 (or more) queries, I finally got an agent.” THAT’S the story I want to hear.

I know this is just a fantasy, because, let’s face it: most agents aren’t looking through the want ads for new authors to represent. They don’t have to. They have more than enough authors seeking them. They’re like the hot guy on Tinder who gets swiped more times than he swipes. It’s just a fact. The “slush pile” is real.

But it’s sort of fun to pretend that a literary agent would actually be seeking me. A girl can dream, can’t she? I’ll keep reaching for the brass ring until I find my perfect match.

Is Social Media Uniting or Dividing Us?

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In 2008, there were 145 million Facebook users. In 2017, there are more than 1.79 BILLION users as of January 2017. That’s a lot of people…and a lot of opinions.

In 2008, people still had active MySpace accounts, Twitter had only been active for 2 years, and “meme’s” and propaganda was circulated through email.

I’ll admit, I was late to the game. I opened my Facebook account in 2008, I think. I remember being reluctant to do so, because I didn’t know how much of my life I wanted exposed to the public. Kind of ironic, eh?

But back in 2008, Facebook was a much friendlier place to be than it is now. I can’t speak for Twitter or MySpace, since I don’t have accounts, but I assume that they started out more friendly as well.

It was fun to connect with old friends. There were countless stories of families being reunited after having lost touch. We got to see pictures and video and share in one another’s life events. And it united us on a global level that the every day person had never been able to achieve before.

And then something changed.

Instead of being a forum to share what we have IN COMMON, and what we could CELEBRATE, it started to meld into how we are different. Instead of sharing EACH OTHER’S lives, we started posting pictures of ourselves in the form of “selfie’s.” We got more opinionated and more self-righteous and more self-centered.

And instead of “liking” things, we got indignant about people’s opinions, and felt the need to correct and admonish whenever we got the chance. We hid behind our screens and started commenting and saying things that we would never say to one another in person.

Instead of uniting, we’re driving a wedge between ourselves. Instead of building bridges we’re smashing them with a wrecking ball. Instead of celebrating in each other’s lives and telling one another “good job” or “congratulations” we’re uttering words that (hopefully) we’d never say in person.

NO OUTSIDE FORCE DID ALL THAT…WE DID THAT. And it’s got to STOP!

Social media will continue to divide us until we remember our manners. We can have discussions without being completely rude to one another. We used to do it all the time. We can disagree and still show love to one another. OR WE CAN NOT LEAVE A COMMENT AND MOVE ON. We can eat a meal without posting a picture of it on Facebook. We can celebrate our beauty without taking a billion selfie’s seeking approval. We can use social media for what it was intended – TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. But we have to get out of our own way to do it.

I love the human race. I don’t like conflict, and I want to change it when I can. This is something I can do.

You can do it. I can do it. We all can do it. But it has to start somewhere. Let it start with you and me.

A Tribute to Customer Service

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Anyone who works with the public in a customer-server relationship knows it can be trying at times, on both sides of the fence.

I’d like to give a shout out to all of the customer service people who take their job seriously, and to let them know that their smile and ability to do their job effectively is appreciated.

My favorites are those who I see on a regular basis, who seem to recognize me. Being friendly and polite goes a long way.

My friend and I stopped by the grocery store on our way home from lunch today, and I came across my favorite cashier, Julie. She is always friendly and cheerful, even when I can tell that she’s had a long day on her feet. Julie helped me pull a fast one on my friend, who wouldn’t let me pay for her $2.04 loaf of bread. Julie joked around with us while my friend and I fought over letting me pay for the bread. So while my friend was busy digging through her purse, I slipped Julie the money, and she rang it up before my friend could object further. Now that’s customer service.

Or there’s Susan, our family Optician, who knows my kids by name, and never hesitates to joke with them. She goes out of her way to help us choose glasses that are in our budget, while still finding a style that my kids love.

There are countless food servers, coffee baristas, retail salespeople, medical receptionists, tech support personnel, bank tellers, clerks and hundreds of other customer service people that we deal with day after day. Chances are most of us have been in a customer service position at one time or another.

In a day and age where we push buttons to select the right “option,” where we “dial by name” instead of talking to an actual person, where receptionists are few and far between, where we order anything and everything we want on-line, where human connection is dwindling, customer service is a dying art.

So “thank you” to the customer service representatives that add their own personal touch.

Have you met an exceptional customer service person that deserves a shout out? Does the personal contact keep you coming back?