Ghosts…

Dear Readers,

“Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you.”

I read those words in Jon Acuff’s book “Finish” a little over 2 years ago and I realized that a ghost I haven’t chased was very much in my face. I put the thought away, just as I had so many times before. Yet, it lingered.

I wasn’t ready to do anything yet, but the thought started to fester. 

Over the years, I have given a little weight to it, and then dismissed it, saying things like, I don’t have time. I don’t really need it. I am doing great without it. So then that ghost would be pacified by my rationalizations (always temporary) and so would quiet down and go away but not completely, it was always kind of hovering in the background.

Then I would forget about it for a while and then conversation with friends and colleagues would turn to backgrounds and schooling and I was suddenly very interested in other people and we somehow never got around to me. This was purposeful and I have dodged the topic for years. It’s time to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

I think many people (some of whom are reading this) would be very surprised to learn, I have an Associates Degree in Drama and while I am very proud of my degree, it also took me five years to get a two year degree.

Yes, you read that right. It should be mentioned, I worked full-time and paid for it as I went which is why it took me so long. 

When I graduated from Austin Community College in May of 2005, I was working at Apple and was surrounded by wonderful and supportive people  (Like this wonderful woman, who was my boss at the time) who were very excited to be there, took pictures with me and cheered me on and no one asked what’s next? 

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Most likely this was due to the fact that I had a great job and I was generally considered successful, and I surely did not make any noises about wanting to continue my college career. I had taken 5 years to get that two year degree and I was proud and a little stubborn because I was so successful that I didn’t need another degree. 

So a few more years passed and I kept working and acting (so you could say I was successfully utilizing my degree) and continuing to believe I was fine and didn’t need the additional schooling. 

Recently, I started to think about it a little more and thinking has recently turned to research and now finally, action.

Why? Well, I have a two year old daughter and I want her to be proud of me. Before you say she will be proud of me regardless of whether I have a bachelors degree or not, that isn’t really the point. I finally realized, this is something I need to do for me to to be PROUD of ME.

When you decide to do it, Put it out there so others can support you and cheer you on and keep you going when you are in the “this-sucks-and-is-way-harder-than-I-thought-it-would-be- why-did-I-ever-say-I-would-do-this” they can pull you back and remind you of all the reasons you decided to pursue your goal.

So (deep breath) I am taking my own advice. I have decided after a 14 year hiatus, I am going to go to school and get my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Mini-wave and celebration of me! THIS IS BIG NEWS, PEOPLE!

I am not sure how this is all going to work, what with working full-time and parenting full-time but I do know that I can’t hide from this ghost any longer and it’s time to confront it at last. I also know that in the history of my life, any decision I have made to do something challenging, I have ultimately figured it out, even if it took a little longer or frustrated me a little or a lot. But enough about me, How about you?

What ghost is haunting you? What haven’t you done that is lurking just in the background, what do you need to do that you have been putting off, what do you need to do to be proud of you.

Think About It.

My Birthday Wish…

Dear Readers,

Last week was my birthday and every year I ask people to give me one thing.

I only ask for this one thing. I am always so happy to hear the stories later.

It’s like a continuation of my birthday for the next few weeks as I catch up with friends and they tell their tales!

It occurs to me people might want to do “act of kindness” so I did some research for you on some things you can do. I love lists so here is one!

Acts of Kindness For Strangers

  1. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  2. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  3. Give someone a sincere compliment.
  4. Buy someone behind you in line their morning coffee.
  5. Pay for someone’s groceries behind you. (I can’t wait to do this one!)
  6. Give up a good parking spot. (tough I know… but imagine how happy this will make someone?)
  7. Smile at someone. (if someone looks at you weirdly for smiling at them, like has happened to me, smile at someone else, usually they will smile back.
  8. Hold the elevator or door open.
  9. Let someone behind you at the supermarket check out first
  10. Give up your window or aisle seat for someone who has a middle seat.
  11. Bring your flight attendant some chocolates.
  12. Help someone struggling with heavy bags.
  13. Help someone take a photo.
  14. Take time to give someone who looks lost directions. (this requires that we not be on our phones and actually “SEE” other people!
  15. Stop and help someone with a flat tire.
  16. Carry a $5 gift card with you and give it someone randomly.
  17. Give someone else the cab that you hailed.
  18. Let someone else get seated before you at a busy restaurant.

  • Don’t overthink your random act of kindness! (A small gesture to you, could mean a world of difference to someone else!)
  • If you’re introverted and intimidated with talking to a stranger, you can always make an effort with someone you know and then tell them and they will do an act for someone else and then it will ripple out to others.
  • A bonus ? Do an act of kindness for someone who will NEVER know you did it.
  • This look on my daughter’s face definitely makes me think of a person who has had an act of kindness sent their way. viviennesmilesseptember272018

Can you bring the kindness back?

Tell me YOUR ideas for bringing more kindness to the world!

I can’t wait to read them all!

Think About It.

 

 

 

Do you Age or do you A-G-E-?

Dear Readers,

There has been a recent craze going around on social media to post a question about “AGING” – “how hard has aging hit you?”

As my birthday is coming up this week, I thought it apropos to talk about this and since I have a platform, here we go! I find it interesting and accurate that I am about to perform in one of these pictures and performing in the other.

Naturellement! I am, after all, a performer!

aging20092019

I think that a picture is often worth a thousand words but sometimes it’s worth a heck of a lot more.  The one on the left is 2009 and the one on the right is 2019.

agechallenge

Considering our daughter wasn’t even (literally) in the picture then, it’s worth noting the changes over the last ten years.

To make a very long story short, Jeremy and I have changed tremendously in the last 10 years, We are debt-free, we have become parents, and both of us had different jobs 10 years ago. It also worth mentioning that in those 10 years time we have been together, we have had three different addresses.  In the quest for authenticity and vulnerability, there has also been loss in that time and definitely lots of rejection for both of us, and that’s a necessary part of life.

On the whole, I think it’s safe to say that “aging” has been kind to us both and likely if you REALLY think about it, no matter what your profile picture, you will find the same. Most of us are better off now than we were 10 years ago.

While we are on the topic of “aging” — Here’s a few things to ponder…

We all age every day, but do you AGE?

Every night before bed, I write on a slip of paper these three things:

A- What I accomplished – Sometimes the answer is “nothing” and that is okay, Do-Nothing Days are sometimes GOOD for the soul!

G- What I am grateful for- (there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!)

E- What did I enjoy? (This one is usually my favourite because it’s a great way to remember the day and the joy that was sparked in it. )

I did this for the last month of the year and then on the very last night of the year 12/31/18, I read them all and “relived” my year. It was VERY satisfying and I highly recommend it.

The second thing?

My birthday is on Saturday and every year I ask for one thing. Just one.

Please do an act of meditated and planned out kindness for someone. This can be small or big, your choice. The only thing I ask is that you tell me about it so I can enjoy your generosity to someone else!

Can you bring the kindness back this January 19th?

Think About It.

The Kindness of Strangers…

Dear Readers,

This past Christmas my husband and I were traveling with our little girl and while we normally pack everything but the kitchen sink in her diaper bag, this particular time we neglected to pack an extra outfit, so of course, this was the one time we really needed it because she got sick and needed a change of clothes but we didn’t have one.

No problem, there is a store on every … oh wait, It’s Christmas and we are in Brady, Texas and NOTHING is open except a gas station. So hoping against hope that they would have an extra shirt or heck, even a towel,

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so we could put her in it so she would have something to wear. No such luck, and as we walked around the gas station, I saw several glances of pity and a few of judgment as I walked around the store with my two year old (she was in her boots and a diaper)

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both to look around the store for something (we didn’t find anything) and to get her a break from the car as we filled up the gas tank.

I do my best to ignore judgment and I was having trouble because I was feeling pretty bad about being unable to dress my child for the moment. I walked back out to the car and two families came over and offered us some clothes for her. We were overcome by this kindness and said so, we offered to mail them the clothes back and they said, No thank you, Merry Christmas.

It’s easy to think there is only bad people and bad things in the world and then something like this happens and it truly restores your faith in people. My husband and I were both near tears as we got back in the car and he had the fantastic idea that this shirt (which is currently about 4 times too big) will be the shirt she wears every Christmas so we remember this Christmas kindness. I can’t wait to tell her this story to help illustrate how kind people can be. I was reflecting on this story today as I pulled over to the side of the road to get a box out of the street and a person on the other side of the street said, “Here, I can take that” and he took it and smiled at me, I smiled back and that was it. My day was instantly improved and I was reminded again of the kindness of strangers…

How about you? What can you do in your way to help “Bring Kindness Back?”

It really doesn’t take much. A smile to another person. A sincere compliment to someone when they don’t expect it. Letting someone go ahead of you in traffic. Picking up some trash on the side of the road or maybe putting your neighbor’s trash cans back for them.

Think About It.

 

 

 

“Seeing” in 2019

Dear Readers!

So it’s almost 2019, and if the collective messaging around me is accurate, most of us are very happy to say “GIRL BYE” to this schoolyard bully of a year.

I won’t point fingers AND it has been at least 10 of you saying, I just don’t feel appreciated or things aren’t going well or it’s just been hard this year. I think it all comes down to not feeling “seen” or “noticed” or “appreciated”. That isn’t a hard feeling to come by given all our devices and machines that keep us from LOOKING AT EACH OTHER!

This topic is near and dear to my heart, and is in the heart of my TedX.

It’s really terrifying to tell you about that or really even the IDEA of that actually being a thing-that-maybe-could-possibly-happen because it could happen next year or it could be in five years. I don’t know. I am having to be at peace about that as I spent a good deal of time this year being in “holding pattern” about it.  This picture is a placeholder.  Okay, that’s done.

Tedx

So moving back to you….

What grandiose visions do you have for your future?

That sounds really big.. so let’s break it down to more bite-size chunks, shall we?

Instead of a resolution, what promise will you keep that you have made to yourself?-

Some people are talking about “less screen time”– We have touched on that in the blog before, that is different for everyone. Though I consider myself to be very conscious of that, it was not until I started tracking it that I realized how much I do use my phone so I became aware of it and have already made that a new promise to myself.

I promise when I am with my child, I will be on the floor and “looking at her and playing with her and my phone will be in the other room” –

That’s specific and measurable and tangible.

Some people are talking about working out or weight loss goals. That’s pretty flabby, no pun intended.. What specifics can you put to that? Again, make a promise to yourself!

How about “I will exercise in the course of my day as well as run on the treadmill at least once a week.”

You see where I am going with this, right?

What can you do to “SEE” yourself and realize that best version of you as you look in the mirror?

Don’t get me wrong, you should love yourself exactly as you are, AND feel free to strive for goals all the while loving yourself in that process.

Suffice it to say, I think we should ALL do ALL we can to be sure that others are seen and in so doing, we might just be “seen” ourselves. It’s not a hard equation and it really doesn’t take a lot. Just put down your phone, and open your eyes and your heart and listen. Can you do that?

Think About It.

Not so holly jolly, are you? Me neither!

Dear Readers,

If you are not so holly jolly this Christmas, join the club. It’s been a rough year and I am struggling a little. Lots of medical issues for the whole family, no vacation for us, and several professional rejections.

Let’s not forget, I have to work today. Did I mention that? (well, now I have)

While I love the work and the people, it’s certainly not preferable to spending time with my family of choice. I do get to do that tomorrow, but right now, I am a little down.

So here goes, Christmas is not my favourite holiday because this year is the 5 year anniversary of my divorce from my family of origin. It’s sad so I don’t choose to focus on it but it does pop up for me a bit like a bruise. A far cry from the gaping bleeding wound that would cause me to weep and wail like it used to be, and it still hurts when I touch it, which happens around this time of year.

I am “well shot of them” as the British say!

But back to today and the Christmas or not so Christmas spirit I am not feeling or “embracing my inner grinch” –

In the last few months I have been getting lots of signs about how important it is to say what is so and telling thoughtful truths. It’s important to point out, we all tell the truth but then there are times where we worry about “being nice” more so than being “kind” and I think we could focus a a little more light on being kind than nice.

In the hope that someone reading this is feeling pressure to “put on a happy face” about their very real depression, please don’t feel like you have to do that.

How you feel is 100% valid, and you have every right to feel that way and if someone tries to tell you to “get over it” or “Suck it up, It’s Christmas” look at them and say,

“No, thank you.”

On second thought, screw the thank you, and even screw the no. You don’t have to say anything to anyone. As my mother of choice says, “There is no need to answer a question no one is asking at the top of your lungs”

A few others have this to say-

“Not everybody has to be happy all the time. That’s not mental health. That’s crap.” – Meredith Grey- via Shonda Rhimes)

“Telling the truth- telling thoughtful truths- should not be a revolutionary act. Speaking truths to power should not be sacrificial, but they are”- Luvvie Ajayi

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene’ Brown

At the end of the day, you feel exactly the way you want to and don’t feel like you have to defend your right to feel that way. See note about boundaries!

Your tribe, the ones who love you will surround you with love and “being there” and saying nothing, which can be the most valuable gift of all.  Please be sure to get yourself what you need, whether that is being alone or that is being surrounded by others. Part of good boundaries? Asking for what you want.

Think About It…

 

Elton John- Artist Extraordinaire!

EltonJohn121218

Dear Readers!

I got to see ELTON JOHN last week! YAY! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ LOOK HOW CLOSE I WAS!

I have wanted to see him in concert pretty much since I was old enough to hear his music and love his music so this was a VERY BIG DEAL.

I really vacillated over whether or not to spend the money because even the cheapest tickets when all was said and done was 200.00 at least. I went back and forth and asked a bunch of people who had seen him already and basically decided to go for it.

I took part in a NO SPEND CHALLENGE to set aside the funds in the month of September and it has been a while since I was so careful with my spending (back in 2015 when we became debt free, I saved up for my debt free shoe shopping and this reminded me of that)  but it was all worth it in the end. I kept a log of all the things I didn’t buy so I could afford it and it was absolutely worth every single penny!

Elton John and the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was everything I wanted it to be and more.

I was lucky enough to get to see him perform and I will treasure it forever.

One of my favourite moments was when he played “I’m Still Standing” and there was a barrage of imagery of his highlights through the years including appearances on “Will and Grace” and numerous videos of his outlandish outfits. I loved it for so many reasons but one of the biggest is that my daughter loves the movie “Sing” and one of the pivotal moments features that song. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have not seen it, you should! I felt like she was there with me. Then, when he played “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” I was reminded of the night my husband proposed to me. The pinnacle was when he sang “Believe” which is a big favourite of mine and the screen flashed the statistics about how much money his foundation has collected for Aids Research.

His foundation has raised more than 400 million dollars over the last 25 years.

Talk about inspiring!

Elton John Aids Foundation

I do have to say I was very troubled by the amount of people I saw taking videos and capturing snippets rather than just enjoying the concert but who am I to judge, maybe that’s the best way for them to enjoy the spectacle? The beauty of living in this country is having the right to watch a concert however we choose.  So yes, I judged them a little but then I focused on how I was planning to experience it and let it go.  (mostly)

I go back and forth on it, but while I was tempted to pull out my phone (it’s so addicting to have that thing out and on, isn’t it?)  I ultimately decided to take this one picture and then soak it all in and rely on my memories. I can’t wait to share Elton’s music with Vivienne and talk to her about the words and how each song Elton sings has a different meaning for Mommy and millions of other listeners. I think it’s one of my favourite things about being a mom, teaching my daughter and talking to her and listening to her.

What are some concerts you have gone to that you still remember?

Think About It…