Monday, October 9, 2017

Why moms love Laura Joffe Numeroff stories so much

Mom life: if you give a mom a reminder to take her vitamin, she'll realize she needs a drink to take it. So she'll get her cup and see her plate that needs to be washed. So she washes her plate and finds other cups that need to be washed, and washes them. Then she sees that the counters are gross and wipes them clean. She swept crumbs to the floor so that means she has to sweep the floor. She goes to empty the dustpan, and finds the trash is full. She pulls the trash bag and takes it outside to the collection bin. She returns to put a new bag in the kitchen trash can. Then she sees the splats the kids left behind and mops the floor (swiffer wet jet, really). Then she remembers she came to the kitchen to take her vitamins before bed and finally takes them 20 minutes later.

Moms love Numeroff stories so much because moms can freaking RELATE. Well played, Laura, well played.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

So, we did a thing....

As many of you may recall, we had a pregnancy loss in 2015 that knocked us for a big loop. It was a winding and arduous journey to healing enough to function on the most basic level. We grew our family unintentionally as it were, and out of it has come great adventure. Imagine some of our surprise, when a year and a half later, that we learned that we were expecting another little person!
Because of our loss, we waited with bated breath for labs and scans to confirm it was in fact a potentially viable pregnancy. I didn't trust my body to do things the same way at 40 as it did even at 37. We were too scared to announce anything outside of precious few who we trusted with the news, and knew would be supportive of what ever came of the pregnancy. Add to it, the family size comments we garnered previously, and there was just little room for dealing with the kind of garbage that comes from negative opinions. Every pregnancy has been darkened by something, and our hearts just didn't have the capacity for more of it. The decision was made that we'd keep it off social media and basically keep it quiet till we couldn't. We told the kids at Christmas, and were met with a variety of reactions from them. As the pregnancy progressed, I kept a photo journal of weekly bump pictures. And by Easter, there was pretty much NO more hiding it at all. If anyone asked, I wasn't going to deny it, but I still wasn't going about intentionally announcing it either. And for once, aside from the keeping it quiet, we were able to enjoy this pregnancy. We didn't have to deal with the barrage of comments fraught with other people's opinions. And that has become part of our healing. We didn't even tell family members outside of our kids and my husband's parents.

Digital card

Then I was gifted an opportunity to model for a photographer, and the session was on my due date. I have not ever been able to do something like this, and fully expecting that this really *is* our last baby, I was excited for the chance to document it with something better than bathroom selfies and pictures taken by my kids.

Image may contain: 1 person, ocean, sky, outdoor and water

And here I am now, typing this from the hospital with a freshly hatched mini human beside me who is our Rainbow Baby. She was born on Friday the 14th, and we are embarking on this new leg of our family's journey. She's an opinionated little stinker and getting her here was its own adventure. We're hooked up to phototherapy lights at the moment due to some elevated bilirubin.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Of the offense and the rebuke

We have this Bible verse in play lately:
15But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.

It seems  that I have this penchant for pissing off people in some way or another in the past many months. I've either said or done something that has offended someone somewhere. It was not intentional, but it stinks knowing you've upset someone - especially a friend. I am generally not a people pleaser, so it's not related to that aspect of things. Nor am I just guns blazing give no craps who gets upset with me either. 
But I've long been aware that I am at risk for hurting someone's feelings or offending their sensibilities. I do try to keep it in check, but sometimes, it happens anyway. And most of the time, my friends know they can just tell me that I've done as much and we can work through the situation. However, there are times someone who doesn't know me that well (or maybe at all) finds something I've said or done offending to them, and they won't say anything. I can't say if it's a fear of causing an uproar, an attempt to remain civil/polite, or they don't have the fortitude and courage to just confront me about the situation. 
The problem becomes then that they're harboring a resentment toward me, and I'm clueless to it. I can't own my mistake and attempt to rectify it if that person doesn't own their upset with me and tell me it happened. I have a relative who hated me for years based on the word of their mother, who was unhappy with me. Neither addressed their grievance directly with me, and still have not. Those 2 people absolutely do own their problem with me until they make it my problem. I can't fix it without their involvement. I don't know if they are still upset with me or not, and it's been about 23 years since it all started. When they decide to talk to me about it, we can do something. But until they do, it is still their ball bouncing in their court. 
Most recently, I posted something on Facebook, and told of someone else's situation, and a reflection of things. It was an emotionally charged thing in my realm. However this other person took it as making their situation about me. Instead of directly confronting me, there was a vaguebook post made about it, and the ire demonstrated there. I privately apologized, explaining that I would not ever seek to usurp their situation as my own. This person said they'd been bothered by my relating their story on previous occasions and asked that I not do that anymore. 
Oh good gravy, if this person had just told me the FIRST time they were uncomfortable with me telling of their story, I would have never done it again. Instead, this person harbored resentment and lashed out about it. Well, what was already a charged thing for me became more so because the hurt I thought I'd caused originally was no where near what the cause of hurt actually was. Now we've got other things at play. In addition to remorse for offending someone, there's now annoyance because they opted not to address it immediately and privately, ignored me completely when I attempted to make contact along the way which left me believing that they had something else going on, and then it blew up loudly. What would have only been briefly awkward, may be such permanently now.  
So, if you have a grievance, there really is merit to addressing it in a timely manner, and directly to the person who has committed it upon you. If you need moral support, then utilize it as needed. But don't let it fester and brew for so long that it becomes this severing explosion. And if anyone truly knows me, then they surely know they can come to me to express a problem exists. I'm not such a hardass that I can't see where I have made a mistake, and I'm not so callous that I can't or won't attempt to make amends. And even if we aren't good friends, that still stands. My skin is not so thin that someone saying I've done something to upset them is going to cause me to behave badly. Yes, I might be upset at first and my kneejerk reaction may not be initially what either of us expect. But I am willing and capable of working through my reactions, sorting through where the offended is coming from with their problem with me, and attempting to make amends or politely parting ways as the situation merits. 
Just don't sit there and be offended and tell everyone else about it, BUT the person who needs to hear it first and foremost.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trickling down, around, forward, abound

My husband used to work at Home Depot. He impressed the store manager so much that 9 months after he got there, he was promoted to manager. You need to know that my husband has always been a leader, it's one of those natural born traits he has. A few of our kids have that gift as well. But before he could officially promote, this store manager required that every new promotee read Cmdr Michael Abrashoff's book It's Your Ship first. That was how they were to run their departments because that was how she wanted the store run. Apparently he was so good that every time she transferred him to a different department, she got minimum 15 requests from people around the store to transfer to that department. They wanted to work for him. Seriously, it was crazy and the managers who were there before him and operating on different mindsets couldn't handle it.

He took his Marine Corps training, his natural leadership skills, and his DILLIGAF of what anyone thought about him, blended with this approach, and it was golden. He rarely had to write up anyone after a single corrective conversation. He had people seeking him out for various things. Customers would drive an hour just to find out if he was there and turn around if he wasn't because they didn't want to talk to anyone else. Employees begged to work in his department. I've rarely seen anything like it, but if more people operated like that, the world would be a more productive and happier place to work.

He got moved to garden center during peak season, not having much knowledge of actual gardening. He mowed the grass too short every time and did things that made me crazy. Our yard left a lot to be desired, and that's all I'm going to say about it. But he's always been willing to learn and try, so he did. He had a part time associate working for him who was there to fill a job gap and make some extra money. They were working together one day, and the other guy was spotting for my husband on a forklift, making sure customers kept clear of the area and that my husband was warned of problems and safety issues. My husband asked the other guy if he wanted to learn how to operate it. The guy said "nah, I'm an admin kind of dude." My husband told him he couldn't screw up anything on it and that it was easy enough, almost like a video game joystick. He taught this associate how to operate the machine, and helped him gain the company's required certifications to operate the machines. That was around 2008 or 2009.

Fast forward to the past year, where my husband was able to secure a job that has been a bit of a dream for us. He was working on something, and recognized a guy in the vicinity and kept wondering where he knew him. Meanwhile this other guy was wondering the same about my husband. Finally someone said something. And they reconnected. My husband is easy to remember, hard to forget.

They got to talking and the other guy told my husband that he left working with a relative because things were not going well and now owns a forklift rental company. And it all started because my husband took the time to share knowledge, and he handled customer service differently, and led by example in a way that other managers didn't. My husband would explain the why and how behind a company decision and the results it would have when associates followed those instructions. He taught them how to read reports and understand the operational side of the store beyond just getting product in the customers' hands. The other guy even said that when he's talking to people about how to do things within his business, he uses my husband's name saying "He knows how to take care of customers AND coworkers."

It absolutely made my husband's day, and it made my day to hear about it. One simple action, one small gesture, one shift in behavior is all it takes to be different. And you do different well enough, you influence others to be different too. And when you empower your employees, they want to work for you. When you keep your employees happy, they can keep the customers happy. Small influences have big impact. If my husband had not been willing to share his knowledge, this young man would have never thought he could have the option to own forklifts and rent them out to people. He would have continued thinking "nah, I'm just an admin guy" and kept looking for desk jobs. Instead, he took his "admin guy" experiences, his customer service experiences at Home Depot, the business knowledge he probably learned from my husband, and he put it together in his own business.

Know that every choice you make not only impacts you, but it impacts others. Every action you take yields a result you'll never see or know. Occasionally, you get really blessed and someone shares how your influence impacted them. And it's ridonkulously cool when they tell you that because of your influence, they have had some amazing experiences. The trickle is there, all you have to do is listen for it and let it flow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Leggings and Listening

Many of you have heard of a company that sells clothing on a direct sales platform, wholesale to the consultant who sells it for retail. I was first introduced to this company by a member of my downline team, who decided to join the clothing company last winter.
Now, the business model is such that there is a limited number of pieces cut from any particular print of fabric. So it makes the product appealing because of how unique the pieces are. It's mass-production but limited due to the choice of materials. There is a definite draw to it because of the uniqueness. Along with it comes some level of crazy but that's going to happen no matter where you go anymore.

I could talk about the cut of the styles, the fabrics, etc. if you're a fan, I don't need to explain it. If you're not or you never heard of it, all I can say is you need to put your hands on it and wear it to comprehend it. I can't do it justice with my words. It's midnight and I've been busy, so the pistons are shutting down quickly here. But I will tell you the clothing is COMFORTABLE. Seriously, I almost crawled in bed wearing one of the dresses a couple weeks ago.

I was talking with a friend and it occurred to me there was more drawing women to these clothes than the rare find prints, the extreme comfort, the versatility, etc. In the past many years, dare I say over a decade, clothing for women has become more insulting to our intelligence (sizing and fit issues anybody?), more revealing, and mothers across the country are begging the question: "Why do retailers offer skimpy clothing for our daughters, but our sons can find the same standard clothes?" Just do a handy internet search of your own to find any number of blogs and articles lamenting the double standard in what is offered. We have shorter and shorter hemlines being offered to both women and girls. I can't take my daughters shopping without having to nix most of the choices, or stipulate that a camisole must be worn under something because of a fault in the design that doesn't meet our dress standard. And to be clear, we are not horridly strict here. Our girls and I have long femur bones, so it's even more difficult to find shorts that cover where we deem that they should. We have curvy parts that require extra fabric to dress those areas. It's not an option to allow otherwise. We don't do sheer and see-through where a swim team bathing suit would cover. We don't even need to discuss necklines, do we? If I can see cleavage from my vantage point, I am not comfortable wearing it. It's that simple. The way I move, and doing the kind of work I do, that kind of neckline puts me at the edge of sharing parts of me that I do not wish to share.

The revelation I had this evening was that this company is such a draw to women because they offer clothing that fits a variety of ways, is versatile, fun, and here's the biggest thing - it's MODEST. None of these pieces are excessively short, low cut, or scant. Yet, when I wear the pieces, my husband swoons because they flatter my figure, and he thinks it makes me more beautiful, and even sexy. It might be that I'm also insanely comfortable in what I'm wearing, and not tugging, pulling, or checking for exposure. If I have to fight with my clothes, I won't wear it. I fight with enough other more important stuff in my world. The things I wear aren't a priority for fighting.

Women have an option versus the ones offered in stores, and they are voting with their dollars. I'm sure the big box retailers are surveying the landscape and discerning why their bottom line is affected. The reality is that they have been failing us for many many years, our complaints have fallen on deaf ears, and now that we can find something they don't offer and we've been wanting, even begging them to provide, we are taking our business elsewhere.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shocked at Mass today

There was a family in the pew behind me at Mass today with a small child and a baby who I'd guess was about 14 or 15 months old. The little guy had a noisy couple of minutes and dad was trying to quell the noise. Then someone came over to them, stepped into the pew and chastised them. I couldn't make out everything being said. But the family responded by getting up and leaving in the middle of the Mass. I was not expecting that reaction.

I'm going to skip my commentary. It's well known with a simple search of my blog my thoughts and they have not changed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pastors, your Mother's Day stuff is nice and all buuut....

I have friends who skip church for Mother's Day because of you.
After being told she's less of a woman by people who were supposed to be on her side, your decision to have mothers stand and be honored or prayed over by the congregation has driven her decision. Even 50 some-odd years later, my father still grieves the loss of a child, and then the other loss 30ish years ago. My FATHER, a man, who is supposed to apparently be stoic and push aside *his* grief. My own husband is having a difficult time of it himself. My best friend's grandmother had a loss in the 60s, and the doctor was anything but compassionate toward her. She told him to never say that crap again and he was not to return to her room. He returned the next day with more of the same junk, and she threw a bar of soap at his head. She is 50+ years out from that loss, it still burns with an indescribable ache, and she was one of the ones who suffered in silence all these years. Women like her are why I have my big mouth and why I refuse to keep it shut.

So, pastors, get creative. Get compassionate. Get your congregation involved. Get them talking. Get them to understand the pain. Get them to show love to the women with empty arms, even if they also have full ones.

I will keep it simple and share these links with you, because they say it so much better than I could or would.

I am NOT saying skip the celebrating of mothers. I am saying shift a couple gears and rework it. I'm saying that while you're celebrating mothers in May and fathers in June, that you plan for October to honor the reason parents grieve too. I'm saying you've got noble intentions, and there is room to make it better. Believe me, word will get out that you do something awesome for the moms-of-a-different-sort, and you will build your community and have a group of women who are going to wrap their arms around newly-grieving families so that they do not suffer in silence like my friend's grandmother and countless other women, or like my father and husband.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes

In an online loss support group, someone shared that they were told by a guy that nobody chooses to experience loss, but they DO choose how they respond to it. He just failed to comprehend how we simply can not just not-cry when there's a reminder. I suggested she put it in terms a guy who has never experienced a loss, or held a sister, wife, mother, girlfriend, or other female in the throes of grief over losing her child would understand. 
"Tell him to imagine getting punted in the nads so hard they may never recover, and he’s not allowed to cry, yell, double over in pain, wince, or even blink twice about it. He still has to go to work like normal digging a trench to lay conduit, or climbing a ladder to paint a vaulted ceiling, or pushing a lawnmower. And that he isn’t allowed to respond to it at all. He can’t even talk to his doctor, significant other, or minister about it. And then add to it, all his buddies tell him to man up and suck it up buttercup, it’s just a kick in the nads and he can still have sex." 

I'm sure watching a few episodes of Jackass might be a fair start in getting someone like that to gain any insight. Somehow, I suspect people like that will never get a clue till life slams them in the back of the head with a clue-by-four.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How a mug & spoons help me manage my grief and my life

The day I went to the ER for a suspected miscarriage, my husband wandered the hospital halls after the ultrasound to find food, and stopped at the gift shop. Once we returned to the room after the scan, and the medical staff exited, I told him I did not see a heartbeat on the screen. He claimed hunger, which I knew was true because I heard his stomach growl, and it was well past his usual lunchtime. He came back a while later with a cafeteria cup (probably containing sweet tea) and this mug. He was trying to cheer me up and be a little funny. Unfortunately, the mug stinks at keeping coffee warm enough for very long, and it has a chip in the rim from someone else leaving it in the van. I pulled it from the cabinet for sentimental reasons. I didn't want it broken in circulation. To me, it is more than *just* a mug. It is one of the very few tangible items I have connected to the very brief existence of our Francis.

In the Healing After Pregnancy Loss group I joined, we talk about spoons. It is related to the blog post about The Spoon Theory. One day, I was feeling frustrated with the poor reconciliation of my to-do list versus the got-it-done list. My upline director suggested I change how I view the spoons. Instead of using up the spoons, decide how to spend them and what kind of investment will be to spend them. I had a HUGE moment of AH-HAAAA!

I went to the box of plastic cutlery, and I grabbed a handful of spoons out of it. I then found a sharpie marker that actually wrote clearly and worked. I labeled the majority of the spoons. I did leave several blank for those days the grief visits, the stress plays hard in the day, the work of the day wears on me. But the others, I gave a name. As I use a spoon, I turn it handle up in the mug.

  • Crafting - because I haven't done any in a long time, and it is something I want and need to do. Most days my brain just can't fire the pistons correctly for the simplest of knitting though. It's there when I'm ready for it.
  • 31 - I have two of these for my business, so that I intentionally touch my work daily - one for the fun stuff, one for the must-do stuff.
  • Schlepping people - I have to get people places on time and some days, it pulls a lot out of my resources to do it. But it has a name on a spoon because it is a must-do and it helps my family.
  • Reflection - time at the end of the day to journal and end the day on a positive note.
  • Time with my spouse- probably the most important spoon in the bunch. He is incredibly busy and stretched, and we must connect regularly so we avoid drifting in opposing streams.
  • D.W.O.P.S. - Dealing With Other People's Stuff (or the expletive as it were). When it's not just a friend venting, and you find yourself  getting sucked into it. Or your kids are just at each other's throats all day and you're wearing thin of hearing it or refereeing it.
  • Morning - Mornings take a bit out of me because I'm not a morning person, and there's a time crunch, and coffee isn't always hitting the brain fast enough. 
  • Self Care - bathing, grooming, even getting out of my pajamas on those heavy-spirit days.
  • Home Care - because a tidy space blesses everyone, and some days I struggle to even move a dish to the sink or dishwasher.

This is how I sometimes have to manage my days, and manage my grief. I'm a visual tactile person, and some members of my family do not always comprehend the burden on my soul or how it affects my ability to be the matriarch of my household. They can look at the spoons and see how many are available with the handle still down. I have reached a point that I don't need to use the mug of spoons to manage my days as regularly, but it's a gentle reminder to me that life must keep moving, and that there is space and spoons available to allow the grief to visit me for a few minutes, and spoons that are an investment in my life and that of my family.
This coffee mug is not just a silly mug to me. It was a gift from my husband, an attempt to demonstrate his pain to me where he can not articulate it, and his way of sharing humor to kiss my heartache that exists in a way he can not touch. This mug holds a value to me that only someone who has grieved a heavy loss and holds a tangible item related to that situation can fathom. To the rest of the world, it's *just a mug*. If you have a loved one who has such an item, please be respectful about it. When you treat it as an ordinary object, while it has special meaning to them, what you do is disrespect their grief and mourning. Every loss is difficult, regardless of the circumstances. Losing a child though, is a suffering that is more than a loss of the life, but the future that life would have had and the role others would have played in the child's story.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Horror and heartbreak

Please keep my family in your prayers. As I sit her mourning my own loss last summer, and the due date that never came, a relative of mine is mourning the tragic loss of both parents in different ways this past week. I am completely stunned, and my heart breaks for this branch of my family, suffering so very much. Prayers for peace to come to those left behind and for the eternal repose of the deceased.
If you are able to help them bury their matriarch, please consider helping in what ever amount you can.