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

Writing Without Fear

 

My latest WIP has been a bit of a challenge. I’m a panster, not an outliner which can be both freeing and completely stifling.

I usually start with an idea for a character, or characters, and then build a story and plot around them. I know, it’s backwards, but it’s the way my brain works.

I’ve started my current WIP three different times.

First, the plot wasn’t strong enough, so I set it aside. But the characters kept talking to me, and telling me they had a story to tell.

So I picked it up again. I tried changing the plot and making it more appealing, and it seemed to be working for a while. But it was still missing something and I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I set it down again.

The third time I picked it up I realized that the story was focused around the wrong character. I was trying to make a supporting character the protagonist. One of the side characters had a much better story to tell and made a much better protagonist: the kind you want to root for even when you know they’re going to fail miserably.

So I started over…again.

I also decided to write with a different approach. No editing. No rereading. Just keep writing. I know that means there will be a LOT more editing at the end, but it’s been kind of fun writing without fear.

I’m also writing completely prepared to cut out scenes, even chapters if necessary. Many times, as writers (or at least it’s this way with me), we’re reluctant to take out scenes, especially the ones that we really love. We don’t want to let go of them. But this time I KNOW there is going to be changes, and I’m good with that. Sometimes as I’m writing a particular scene, I may have an idea that it may not make it to the final cut. I’ve even found myself thinking “that doesn’t fit there” or “that chapter really sucked.” But I just keep writing.

This WIP has turned into a sort of writing exercise in free writing. Who knows if it will work? I’m not sure what I’m going to gain from it, but I’m not afraid even if the whole thing needs to be scrapped. As long as I finish it, then I will have reached my first goal.

Writing without fear may turn into editing without fear.

What do you do when a WIP isn’t working? Do you scrap it or do you try to re-work it? Are you a panster or an outliner?

Keeping My Head Above Water

Some days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water.

Being “Mom” and “Wife” is a varied job description for women. No one woman does the same job as her counterpart, yet we share a sisterhood that, on many days, all we need to do is look one another in the eye and nod. That nod says it all. I understand. I’m right there with you.

Some days I get too far ahead of myself. When things seem to be not going as planned, I’m the first one to want to jump in and fix them. But unfortunately, sometimes there are no quick fixes, no immediate solutions, and that drives me crazy!

The hamster wheel just doesn’t go fast enough for me and it still only goes round and round in circles. No end, no fix, just a whole lot of wasted energy.

Whether it’s the mounting price of groceries, or the stress of doing taxes, or keeping the kids in clothes or  worrying over their grades, I just can’t do it.

And then I remember what’s missing: God.

I’ve been trying to do it on my own: trying to solve problems that haven’t even happened yet, and may not ever happen, all on my own. The people around me feel my stress. I’m one of those who can’t hide my feelings…my face shows my every emotion. It’s a curse, really.

There’s a definition of “Anxiety” that I really like: trying to figure it all out at once.

That about sums it up.

The nights when I can’t sleep because I’m running numbers in my head, and no matter how I rearrange them, they just don’t add up. The nights when I wake myself up because my jaw hurts from clenching it so tightly that I might break a tooth.

All those nights could be better spent in rest and sleep if only I would let things go, and let God work it out. I know it may sound silly, but it really does help. God wants us to bring our worries to him, not so that He can fix them (though he certainly can), but so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves.

He’s already got it figured out. He really doesn’t need our help. In fact, for a lot of us, He just needs us to get out of our own way.

So I’m going to remember to breathe when things get hectic. If only I could remember to do that BEFORE the craziness starts.

Here’s to a better night’s sleep.

Organizing Fail

Nothing drives me more insane than being unorganized. Sometimes it can’t be avoided: like that pile of school papers sitting on the kitchen counter of upcoming events (there’s only so much that will fit on the refrigerator), or the pile of bills waiting to be paid. I’ve learned to accept that some things just don’t have a place every moment.

But then there are the things like chargers and ear buds that are strewn across table tops and desks. THOSE things drive me nuts!

At first I sewed this clever organizer that had a little strap for each item, then the entire thing could be rolled up and tucked into a drawer nicely. Thank you, pinterest. I thought I’d solved the problem. Every cord and charger would have a neat little home. Boy was I wrong! I think my family used it maybe once or twice. And I was STILL the one picking up the cords and putting them away, only to have them strewn across the table hours later.

Big Fail!

Next, I saw another pinterest post where they had used empty mint containers for the earbuds, and a clever box with a section for each charger – each section was even labeled. Genius, right?

Again…FAIL!

See, there’s one thing that all the organizers don’t tell you about those ingenious organizing ways…EVERYONE HAS TO ACTUALLY USE THEM for it to be effective.

Everyone has to be on board and feel as passionately about organizing as the one who made the fancy organizer.

My family, the ones who use the earbuds and chargers, do NOT share in my passion. It doesn’t bother them to have to hunt for their chargers and earbuds, and then untangle them to use them. Of course, these are the same people who consider the floor as a very low shelf!

So after many different trial and error options, my ingenious organizing solutions? A BOX! That’s right…a plain old box. Actually it’s one of those photo boxes from the craft store that was on sale for $2.50. And I didn’t have to put in ANY effort to make it!

So far it’s working out great. They just have to roll up the cords, and toss it into the box – no effort whatsoever! And I even threw in a few empty mint containers for earbuds. They can choose to use them or not. But the best part is I DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT THE MESS ANYMORE!

The 1980s are back…for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

wow-1606892_1920

This weekend was the “Spring Fling Dance” at my daughter’s high school and their theme this year? The 80s!

Yeah…I’m feeling my age. The school brought in a portable roller rink and the kids rented skates. Wow, does that take me back!

All week my daughter and I bonded over old music videos from the 80s as she tried to find her 80s look for the dance. It was a nice change from having to watch (and listen to) the thousands of YouTube stars that my kids find so funny. Talk about a generation gap. I’ve tried, I really have, but I just don’t find most of them funny or entertaining. And every time I have to watch one, I tell my husband that we are working way too hard to make a living if these guys are making money doing what they’re doing. But that’s a different post unto itself.

Back to the 80s. It’s been fun reliving the days of big hair, dayglo, cut off sweatshirts, crop tops, rubber bracelets, and synthesized music.

We listened to Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive (her favorite), Adam Ant, and countless others to try to come up with inspiration for my daughter’s wardrobe for the dance.

She decided to go with a Madonna look. Not the Madonna with the pointy bra, or the Madonna in her Justify My Love phase. We agreed that Madonna in her more innocent (and I use that term loosely) “Lucky Star” days was appropriate.

We cut up an old black t-shirt, found some black lace fingerless gloves, made a gigantic hair bow, found as many costume bracelets as we could, dug out my old black bike shorts (sadly, I still have them – but I don’t wear them, I promise), and of course bought a can of Aqua Net for the extra big hair. I was surprised that we could still buy it. We couldn’t find the pink can, but settled for the purple extra hold can. I was also surprised that they haven’t decided that it’s solely responsible for global warming. LOL And I forgot how much residue it leaves on the bathroom floor. Yuck! Time to mop!

She had a fabulous time and I’m almost sorry that I didn’t volunteer to chaperone this dance…almost.

It would have been fun to relive those days, but I probably would have embarrassed my daughter with my dance moves. Bust a move!

I know my days of hanging out with my daughter are numbered. She’s already started to pull away (as she should) to find her own independence. But it was nice to talk to her about what my teenage years were like, and for her to realize (hopefully) that I was once young too.

What Parents Do to Make Things Last

 

shoes-1509209_1920

I’m replacing the 2nd pair of sneakers that my son has had since school started in September! Already!

It doesn’t matter whether I buy name brand or Target specials (no offense Target), he is the Sneaker Destructor: villain to sneakers everywhere.

It made me think about the things that my parents used to do to make our belongings last, before the world was so “disposable.”

I grew up in the 70s and 80s (GenX), and when something broke or started to wear out, they did everything they could to stretch as much life out of it as they could. Throwing something away was a last resort.

In the early 70s, my brothers were subjected to jeans made of indestructible fabric. They were called Toughskins and they were horribly uncomfortable. They didn’t bend, but Toughskins could take a beating. But just to be sure they got the most wear out of them, before my brothers even wore them, my mom would reinforce the knees with iron-on denim patches. Fortunately for their reputations, she put the patches on the inside of the pants. But it only made them less flexible.

And when the soles of sneakers started to wear out she’d reach for the “Shoo Goo.” Before she’d spend a dime on a new pair of sneakers, she would “Shoo Goo” the heck out of the sneakers. It wasn’t until a toe would poke through the top of the shoe that she’d have to break down and buy a new pair. Maybe I should invest in a tube.

My mom would also re-use any plastic food container. I never saw her purchase any Tupperware. Instead, she re-used every margarine, Cool Whip, and cottage cheese container over and over again. She still does it to this day.

My dad could fix anything. Whether it was electronic, made of glass or wood, belonged on the car, or belonged in the house, with enough tinkering, he could fix it. And this was before the internet, so he didn’t have any YouTube videos for reference. Just good, old-fashioned, common sense got him through it.

I think I inherited a little bit of their attitude of preservation. My husband laughs when he comes home and sees me re-gluing the leg on a chair, or weaving my kids’ clothes back together. But he’s appreciative when it’s HIS favorite shirt or comfortable sweatpants that I’ve mended.

Tomorrow we’ll go buy a new pair of sneakers, because my son’s toe is poking through the top and Shoo Goo won’t really help with that. If only Toughskins made sneakers that would keep the Sneaker Destructor at bay.

What crazy things do you do to stretch the life of your things?