A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

My Good Thing: Short and Sweet Edition

Today was one of those days when one event put everything in perspective.

My good thing, or person, I should say is my mother. Today, a close friend’s baby girl didn’t  have such a good day at daycare. I hugged my friend as she went to be with her baby and then sat down and thought of all the single mothers I work with and how blessed I have been these past eight years to always have my mom.

Even since I moved up north and began working, never once have I ever had to worry about the welfare of my girls. My mom has always been here to care for them. No daycare. No trying to find child care situations. No wondering if they’re doing ok home alone. No worrying. My mother has been here every step of the way. My children have been safe and well cared for when I couldn’t be home and even when I took the opportunity to travel to Europe, my mom took care of my babies.

In short, I’m a blessed woman.

So my good person is my mom and my good thing is daily walking through the doors of my place of business knowing the most precious people in my life are in the best hands ever!

 

 

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My Good Thing

Some may say their good thing today was getting through the day without actually punching someone in the throat. I won’t say that as I vowed to give some serious thought to this. 

So, I would say my good thing today was entertaining the thought that until I know what I know about the position someone else is in, don’t make assumptions about their choices. You can take that any way you want and I won’t elaborate. But it is a point to ponder. We question the choices people make around us all the time yet we really don’t ever know or stop to realize the expectation put on them. Now, the effect their choices have on us doesn’t diminish when we do “walk a mile in their shoes” however, it can bring understanding. And understanding can bring a sense of either compassion or empathy. Or simply a sense of peace. 

There really is a light at the end of the tunnel, kids. The question is, which track will you be on when you emerge from the darkness.

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Tuesday’s TMI

TMI (Too Much Information – for those who do not know what this means) tag seems to be the big thing in vlogging at the moment.

I’ll play. Only, I’m going to take these questions a few at a time instead of all at once. So, here’s the first five:

1. What are you wearing? At the very moment, my night-gown. And yes, I’m blogging from my bed.

2. Ever been in love? Yes, I have. I loved my husband deeply. That’s what makes betrayal all the more painful. When you love someone so much you change who you are for them, it’s the wrong kind of love. When that person sees  you doing that and takes advantage all the more, it’s destructive. I stay away from that kind of “love” – can we really even call it that? No, we cannot. Real love is outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

The real question is have you ever been loved? Yes, I have but not by who I should have been.

3. Ever had a terrible breakup? Divorce is the ultimate breakup. Not only did I experience this but so did my girls. You see, when you get married, a piece of your soul becomes fused with your spouse. Divorce is literally the ripping apart of a soul. That’s why it’s so painful. That’s why it’s so destructive.

4. How tall are you? 5″2. Short and sweet!

5. How much do you weight? Na-ah. Not even in a TMI tag will I publish that information. Women are women and, God help us, we are a catty bunch. All I would have to do is to make that public before the fat shaming would begin. So no, I choose not to answer this question.

 

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My Good Thing Today

A while back, I used to follow Deanna Daughtry on twitter. She used to always ask, “What’s your good thing today?”

I decided to do the same thing and I challenge myself to reflect on this daily. What’s your good thing today? Be specific! Obviously, I know my kids are good and it’s good to have a roof, food, job, etc….but I wanted to go a little deeper. 

Something good today was the realization that I can make the future I want to have. I spent yesterday lamenting and being fearful. Fearful that I’m, once again, stuck in my life. Fearful that my children will be stuck just like me. Fearful I will never be able to make their dreams come true. Fearful that, if I push them too hard, I’ll lose them. Fearful over money. Fearful of the burden on my shoulders to be the breadwinner in my home. Fearful I will never be more than what I am in this moment.

I let myself cry a bit. I allowed more anger than this is all worth. I even let it all flow into today. And then, in trying to sort out all these thoughts in my head and trying to determine the what, where, when, how and why of the whole situation, there was a moment of clarity.

That is my good thing today. Clarity. I have no clue how just yet but I have clarity and it’s made me less fearful.

Your turn!

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A Look Back

Some years ago, I kept an online journal. It actually chronicled a very difficult time in my life beginning November 2004 and ending with my divorce in 2006 and my move from Texas to Illinois.

Every once in a while, I believe it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come. Reading all those journal entries made me feel like I was reading about another woman’s life. The only difference is her memories of each event were mind and could still clearly play themselves out in my mind.

Since I’ve been divorced, people have commented more than once on how strong I am. The realization that I was in an abusive relationship (verbal and emotional) was a hard, bitter pill for me to swallow. Still is, at times. Yet, when I was reading these memories today, I can clearly see just how lonely (and alone) I was, how hard I tried to hold my family together, how many times I, in my brokenness, apologized to my husband for his abuse of me (tell me this sounds familiar) and…..how the church at the time showed little to no support.

I remember, after moving up north, how angry Shelby was at me for “making her leave” her home. It took me years to finally tell her that the only way I could ever be the woman and mother I am today was by coming home to heal. That was never going to happen down there. I would have had no family, no help and no church.

I came home to the best family a girl can ever have! A strong family unit consisting mostly of super-powerful women not geared towards tearing down my opinion of men but rather raising me and my girls up. The whole concept of getting back on my feet again started the second I set my feet on the green grass in front of my home. Securing a job, getting an education, finding out who I am and what my true worth is were all steps taken in becoming the person I am now. So many people had a hand in that, not least of which are the two young women who share my life and make it sparkle.

Looking back to rekindle hate and anger is never good. Looking back to see how far you’ve come, however, IS very good! Using it as a testimony to all you’ve achieved, accomplished and overcome will someday, hopefully, bring about an anointing which is to be used to help others and grow them from the place you one were guiding them into their future.

The last church service I attended while down in Texas had a guest musician leading the praise team. I don’t remember his name – not sure if I ever knew it, to be honest with you. Afterwards, as I was standing there feeling more alone than ever, he came up to me and said he felt God had a word for me. I remember feeling doubtful. After all, when you’ve been abandoned by your husband – the one person who has promised to be with you “for better or worse” – and you feel abandoned by your church that once swore to love you and pray for you, it’s pretty hard to believe God Himself would actually notice you exist. Yet this man, who knew nothing about me, said this:

God says to roll with the changes in your life without fear. For ‘I am bringing you into a new land where I have a greater future prepared for you’.

Now, I have yet to minister in a church. I back with my Catholic church that I love so much and now have made my daughters a part of. I’m about to make a commitment as an Associate with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis and I so look forward to seeing what God has for me there. I doubt that I have brought much of any revelation to anyone since being home as most of my time has been spent healing myself and my kids. But I know God HAS brought me into a new land! He has given me a lovely future! So what was spoken over me has come true and continues to be a truth in my life.

Eight years later, and I’m a different woman. I’m single by choice; have a job I love and excel at; have a great relationship with my two teenage daughters and I’m confident that, while not perfect, I am a pretty cool human being!

As my daughter, Emilie, recently said to me, “I’m really happy with my life!”

And I really am!

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ADHD Help Needed: Apply Within

A couple years ago, Emilie was diagnosed with ADHD. While the diagnosis did not come as a shock, what did was how quickly her doctor then quickly jumped to the conclusion that she would “have to be” medicated.

Now, first, this post is NOT meant to be a debate on the shoulds and should nots of ADHD medicine. I’m smart enough to know there ARE cases where it IS in the child’s best interest to be medicated. However, after lots of prayer and education, I decided Emilie would do better without.

She’s a brilliant girl and I don’t just say that because I’m her mom. She’s been tested by the schools in TX and here in IL – her logic and problem-solving abilities are beyond her years. She has an accelerated intelligence, as her therapist told me. However, Emilie’s problem is her mind moves so fast, she doesn’t often get all the facts she needs to conduct herself on a moment to moment basis. That leads to information needing to be repeated for her to gasp all the pertinent facts. Her teachers at her high school have been exemplary, showing kindness, wisdom and patience and her grades reflect the teamwork that goes on between them and herself.

Daily relationships have become a struggle. You see, Emilie can carry on a conversation. However, her attention becomes broken up and all the words she wants to say and express become jumbled. As she puts it, it’s like lines of written thought that scroll in front of her eyes but they scroll so fast, she can understand them but she can’t capture them enough for her side of the conversation to come out properly. Now, with me and with her family, we’ve developed a habit of giving her a second or two to gather her thoughts and speak when she’s ready. This has worked wonders in terms of her confidence.

However, over the weekend, Emilie broke down to me and expressed a difficulty in her friendships. Seems some are not so kind, or patient. I had suggested to her she tell them, when they tease her, to just be honest with them about it. Unfortunately, ADHD is so common, a few in her group who are ADHD have decided that’s not good enough. They demand answers to questions – like all the “OH MY GOD”s that go with her telling them no, she’s not and why isn’t she medicated. This, coupled with her decisions not to date while in high school, to dress modestly (she doesn’t believe she needs to bare her body for fashion) and to strive to always conduct herself like a lady (no swearing, saying grace before her lunch, eating properly) has made life in high school a little more difficult than she thought.

SIDE NOTE – I feel an incredible, overwhelming sadness that these simple characteristics of a LADY should be so shunned.

This weekend, she fell apart in my arms, crying and wanting to know why she’s so different. After a discussion about ADHD, I asked her if she thought she would be better off with medication. She said no. She said she’d done her own homework on all the different medications out there and she’s made the decision that, while the drugs may help to slow her mind down, she fears the side effects (she’s heard horror stories from the same girls that would be astonished at her not being medicated) and she fears what other parts of her would be slowed down in the process of slowing down her mind. We talked a good long while, and she cried and cried, and when we were done, we began to look at homeopathic ways to help.

So, we are on the hunt for information. We’ve already discussed her diet and she’s already making changes to cut down on her sugar intake. We talked about increasing  her protein intake and staying away from any food dyes. We also talked about becoming workout buddies.

But what I want to know is: Is there anything else I should be doing?

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Why Our Kids are Messed Up

I came across this quote by John Anderson today and it explains why our teens are struggling:

The cry for a father is the cry to be wanted. The 1940’s produced the post-war generation, the ’50’s the silent generation, the ’60’s the dropout generation, the ’70’s the rebelling generation, the ’80’s the self-centered generation, the ’90’s the “unwanted generation.” From abortion to child abuse, from careers to lifestyle, the message we give our children is “We don’t want you!” That is, we don’t want you unless it is convenient for us! We will allow you to be born at our convenience; and, if you are conceived when it is not convenient, we will destroy you. And, when we have allowed you to be born, we will spend time with you when it is convenient. Our children are learning this message….They’re getting the message that “You have no more value than any other commodity in life.”

That is all.

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Acoustic By Candlelight – 2/6/2014

Ryan Kelly, myself and Neil ByrneI thought I’d write a few moments from last Friday night’s concert.

First of all, the venue was perfect. Although, there is a certain amount of excitement surrounding a large concert, I find I prefer the more intimate ones the best.

My brother and I arrived at McGonigal’s Pub and had a bite to eat. Delicious! We lined up on the stairs with others and had the pleasure of meeting Kathy and Joe who had driven down from MN for the show. An hour’s wait went by quickly and before long, we were face to face with Angie who was taking our tickets. Kathy and Joe secured us near front row seat….on RYAN’S SIDE! I was so excited!!!

The show began soon after with me and my brother surrounded by our new ABC/CT friends. I’m going to have a fan-girl moment here and say I squeeed just a little bit when I saw Ryan. Wearing his white shirt and black vest, he looked amazing!!! Neil looked stunning as well. I was a little sad that I couldn’t see more of Neil. One thing about gigs like this that excites me is getting to see musicians really play. Although, I was able to see Ryan play, I couldn’t always see Neil.

So the show goes on and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the banter! I enjoyed Ryan’s recognition of me as an ABC newbie. I enjoyed, when they were singing 500 Miles and Ryan sang, “I’m gonna be the man who’s coming home for you and you and you and you and you…”, the first “for you” he pointed and looked directly at me! I enjoyed watching Ryan’s guitar face in person and I enjoyed watching the expression of every song cross Neil’s face as he sang. I enjoyed it when Neil started to sing out of turn and cracked himself up so much he had a hard time recovering. I enjoyed the guys talking about the polar vortex and how their sensitive Irish skin was made for rain and not snow.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!!!!

One thing I do want to say is this: these guys sounded not as good as their CD but BETTER!!! This is a rarity in a time of the Autotune Artist!

Then came the part I had been both looking forward to and dreading. Meeting them. First of all, I’ve met music artists before (i.e The Script and a several Christian artists) and usually, when they say after a show they’ll be out in a few minutes, they mean half hour or so. I’ve never minded waiting. However, when Neil and Ryan said they will be out in a few minutes, they meant a few minutes. So we waited and then our turn came. I went on my own to allow both my brother and I our own time with them.

Approaching them, two things struck me. The first was while Ryan photographs as a uniquely handsome man, up close and personal, he is physically beautiful! He looks directly at you when you’re talking, is very expressive and seems to share in every emotion. Neil is altogether handsome, always smiling and has that playful Irish glimmer in his eye (like he’s always up to something). Both gentlemen were very warm and welcoming.

So with a hard swallow trying to calm my nerves, I quickly told them both how I wanted to see Celtic Thunder in October but I was accompanying my mom on a trip to Ireland. I said, “that’s the definition of irony” and Neil replied, “Oh yeah it is!”. So I thanked them profusely for the concert, their music and this opportunity. Then I told Neil how much I enjoyed Pale Blue Jak and would he be releasing another solo CD soon. His face lit up and he emphatically said, “Yes!” I said, “Oh, that’s so good! I’m so excited!” Ryan took the insert of the Life CD I brought with me and said, “What’s your name, darling? I replied and gave the spelling (V-I-K-K-I) and he started to sign the back inside cover. Neil finished up answering my question about his solo CD by saying, “As we usually say, watch this space.” His smile alone can bring enough warmth to break through any polar vortex.

Ryan handed me back my insert and I gave it to Neil and asked him to sign. He asked where and I said the cover is fine. Angie jumped in and said, “No, you don’t want him to sign the cover” and both guys laughed. I said, “It’s really ok.” Thankfully, Neil put the black marker away, grabbed a silver one and immediately wrote over the lyrics, spelling my name wrong (but I think I can forgive him for that). So while he was doing that, I turned my attention to Ryan, quickly telling him how, when I first got my Life CD, my 15-year old and I were in the car listening to it when Live for Life came on. I told him how she said, “Mom, this song needs air” and despite below freezing temperatures, we rolled down the windows, turned up the heat and let the volume explode all over my town. Ryan laughed and said, “Oh did you?” as Neil said, “That’s brilliant!”

Then I looked at Ryan and said, “I cannot thank you enough for this CD. It is literally the anthem of my life.” (What I did not tell him is that so many of the songs resonated with me, from being in a 10-year long abusive relationship to discovering and building a life for myself and my two girls. Live for Life is literally my song of victory for me and my girls!) He looked directly at me and said, “Thank you for that!” and I said, “No, thank YOU for that!”

To be honest, this all happened within a few minutes but I was conscious of people waiting behind me, their time, etc.Neil asked if I would like a photo and I said yes. So I stood between them and they both put their arms around me. Now, at this point, I was still shaking like a leaf. I know I put my hand on Neil’s back but my right hand, which was on Ryan’s back, was shaking so much that I was actually tapping Ryan’s back. I quickly pulled my hand away! Angie took the only photo that actually came out good. I thanked them again, waited for my brother and left a happy and contented girl.

Thus endeth my first ABC experience. It was wonderful!!!!! I can’t wait to do it again!

Addendum: In being awestruck by the whole experience, I forgot to give Neil and Ryan the Starbucks gift cards we got for them. They will be going in the mail today.

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An Honorable Man

Today marks the 70th birthday of the most honorable man I know.

So, in his honor, I wrote this for him:

Definition of an honorable man:
1. An honorable man is a man who stands by his commitments.
2. An honorable man is a man who proudly defends his country, whether that is by serving in the military, or simply standing up, removing their hat, placing their hand over their heart while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. An honorable man is a man who houses his mother-in-law without complaint, and in doing so, teaches his family the value of family.
4. An honorable man still looks at his wife after 43 years of marriage like he is seeing her for the very first time.
5. An honorable man’s first action when he comes home from work is to kiss his wife.
6. An honorable man never tolerates trash talk about his wife or family.
7. An honorable man takes his future wife’s niece on a date (because the niece won’t stop crying).
8. An honorable man takes in his niece, helps to raise her and treats her like one of his own.
9. An honorable man goes to find the owner of the movie theater to find out the name of a song playing overhead before the movie begins because his niece says she likes the song.
10. An honorable man teaches his niece/daughter how to dance by letting her stand on his feet.
11. An honorable man teaches his sons how to be gentlemen and his daughters what they should expect from any man in their life.
12. An honorable man helps others heal from the horrors of war.
13. An honorable man paints his house and then paints it all over again just because his wife says the walls aren’t ‘eggshell’ white but more of ‘angel’s kiss’ white.
14. An honorable man dances with his wife in the living room.
15. An honorable man isn’t afraid to sing along with a movie – in the movie theatre!
16. An honorable man always manages to surprise his wife with a gift.
17. An honorable man remembers her favorite fragrance.
18. An honorable man isn’t afraid to work hard for his family.
19. An honorable man put his family’s needs ahead of his own.
20. An honorable man always loves, always forgives, continually prays and will never be overlooked or forgotten.

You, Jim Mulhearn, have been that man in my life. Because of men like you, my daughters know and understand that there are men of honor is this world. I love you so much and am so proud to call you my “daddy” as well as my uncle, my friend, my knight-in-shining armor and my hero.

Happy Birthday!!!!!!

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The Myth of Prioritizing Our Health

Dances With Fat

One of the justifications for the bullying, stigmatizing, shaming, and paternalism that fat people have to deal with is that it’s because we aren’t prioritizing our health and that’s bad for society.

Of course that’s based on the idea that by looking at someone’s body you can tell their priorities, behaviors and health.  Of course there are people of all sizes who prioritize their health in many different ways for many different reasons.  Of course those are none of our business.  Of course people are under no obligation to prioritize their health in any specific way.  And of course this whole argument is based on stereotypes.  But let’s pretend it’s true – that by looking at fat people you can tell that we don’t prioritize our health.  Then is the poor treatment of fat people justified?

At this moment I am watching late night coverage of the Olympics.  They are…

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