That mom…the one that cries at the drop of a hat…the one that loses it when the national anthem is played…the one who lies awake at night, praying for the safety of her son…the one who puts a flag on EVERYTHING.
I knew my youngest son wasn’t happy taking college courses, but I was seriously blindsided when I got a call from my daughter. She was the one who broke the news to me that he was thinking about enlisting and had dropped his college classes for the semester. Since he lived with his dad, I wasn’t always the first to know what was going on in his life.
Two days later, my son called me to apologize for not calling sooner and to let me know…
He enlisted in the Army that day
He was already sworn in
He would be leaving for boot camp on Monday (less than a week later).
I was in shock. I have always tried to hide my disappointments, fears, and sadness from my kids, but the emotions overcame me and my voice betrayed my breaking heart.
Don’t get me wrong…I am SO proud of him for making this HUGE life decision and for serving our country so selflessly and completely, but I needed some time to process the “mama thoughts.”
I needed time to process the shift from school to soldier life. I needed time to process and let go…to surrender my child 100% to God’s protection. I needed time to say good bye to my “little” boy and embrace the man he was going to become overnight. The hardest thing to accept was that I would not be able to see him off…to give him that last hug and kiss before the toughest challenge of his life thus far.
The day he left, I was able to talk to him for about 10 minutes. I pushed my emotions deep down into hiding for that phone call…I wanted him to remember his mama happy and proud of him. We laughed together and I made mental notes of what his laughter sounded like.
It’s now 2 days later, and I haven’t heard from him yet. I suspect he will call his dad and since they only get one phone call when it’s earned, I will need to communicate in other creative ways. There are several things I plan to do throughout his time in boot camp and I’m not sure if it’s more for him or for myself…
I’m writing letters every day. 2 down, 47 to go
I’m praying for him every morning. “The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children” (Stormie Omartian) has a beautiful prayer of protection in the chapter on “Be Protected and Survive Tough Times” It has become a comforting way for me to find peace and surrender my son to God’s protection.
And lastly, I’m doing push-ups, adding one each day, so when he gets out of training, he can tell someone ELSE to “drop and give me fifty”
To help me through the toughest days, I’ve found some great advice and tips from some Army moms groups and perhaps the best advice is to accept the waves of emotions that will come but always be positive and encouraging when receiving those phone calls or writing those letters…you can cry in the shower later…
Yep…I have a feeling our well pump won’t have to work quite as hard for a long while to come.
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If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed that I’ve been absent for quite some time. In spite of the fact that my hubby and I never got COVID, “2020” seriously did a number on me and I had to let some things go…
Letting go has always been hard for me…my old thought habits make me feel that, in laying something down, I have been a failure or, at the very least, a disappointment. So while 2020 was extremely difficult, I grew a lot as a person.
I learned that setting something down does not mean I’ve failed…it means I can pick it back up later when I can give it more attention.
One reason I needed to take a break from my routines had to do with travel. My hubby had wanted to move back to FL for a very long time. He’s not a happy camper in cold weather, even though TN is considered to have “mild” winters. He asked me what I thought about moving south. “Warmer” sounded good in February, so when both of our businesses came to a screeching halt in March, we hit the road looking for adventure and possibly a new life. Our first road trip in March, covering the FL panhandle, came up completely empty. The only thing we found that even remotely resembled our downsizing dream, was a 2 1/2 acre lot, mostly cleared, but we would have to build. As we started researching what the FL building codes, permits and requirements would be, we quickly knew that was NOT the option for us. Road trip #2 in April was much longer as we explored first the east side of the state going as far south as Delray Beach and then back up the west side. We put an offer in on a property and were outbid, so we started the trip back to TN. We had been on the road for several hours when a new listing came up and we both felt we needed to turn around and look at it.
I learned that home really is where the heart resides.
My hubby and I are opposites…I mean, as in 100% opposite. The fact that we both felt pulled toward this property was a miracle in and of itself. But when we met the realtor at the house, we knew the minute we walked in that this was the one. “Turtle Run Ranch” was born and today it’s a place of peace and rest for both of us. (More on the “ranch” later)
I learned that saying good bye is hard, but if you use it, technology can ease the pain.
When we moved to FL, I had to leave my family behind… My 3 kids are now grown so I wasn’t seeing them as often as I would have liked but at least they were in the same town and I could be there if they needed me. Same for my mom…she is not in the greatest housing situation and I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to fix that (I’ll save those thoughts for another post.) My dearest friends, who are like sisters to me, are still connecting and we are able to support each other through video chats and texts. I was worried I would lose touch with many of the people I care about, but I was wrong and my heart is so blessed by each of these beautiful people.
I learned, on more than one occasion, that life is fragile and deserves love and gentleness.
2020 brought 2 near death experiences into our life. A spring tornado passed by in the middle of the night, just 2 blocks away from our TN home. We heard it coming and were able to get to safety in our walk out basement…for those of you who have never lived through a tornado, it is a sound you don’t ever forget. We seriously thought these were going to be our last living moments as we clung to each other in fear. Once it passed, we stepped outside with our flashlights in hand, to survey the damage. Aside from a few downed tree limbs and losing power, our house and our neighbors and their homes all appeared to be ok so we went back to bed and tried to get some sleep. About an hour later, I knew something wasn’t right as emergency vehicles continued to travel up our street…all night long. In the morning, I took a walk to see what was going on and was in shock as I rounded the bend in the road. Entire blocks of houses were completely gone…as in, just the foundation remained. I learned later that one couple was killed just 2 blocks from our home. While I’ve always considered life to be sacred and fragile, I suddenly realized just how fleeting our life and lifestyle truly are. I now cherish little miracles and snippets of time with a whole new perspective.
I learned to be content.
For the first time in my life, I am truly content. I don’t drive a new car but I love the one I have and enjoy not having a car payment. My house was built in the early 80’s and has had very little updating, but it’s a log cabin and I love the rustic nature of it. Are there things I’d like to change, oh yeah! But I realized yesterday, as I swung on my porch swing, I’m content. I’m at peace with where things are at. I could live here for the rest of my life and not change a thing…and still be content. Maybe part of it is my age, but after 2020, I no longer feel the need to have the latest and greatest. My appliances are old…the dishwasher has rust stains inside from the iron deposits from our well, the freezer door doesn’t seal properly unless you close it just right, the microwave is missing the turnplate inside…I could go on but it really doesn’t matter. I truly have everything I need and that is a beautiful, warm and wonderful feeling of freedom.
I learned that joy and laughter are vital to a healthy life.
The second near death experience came in October when the love of my life almost died. He had a “widow-maker” heart attack at the age of 51 and, thanks to a friend of his, got to the hospital in time for an emergency stent. The stress of 2020 had finally caught up to us…tornado, finding a home, prepping a home to sell, putting a house on the market, downsizing, packing up and moving out of state, getting settled, and building fencing, all by ourselves, had taken a a hard toll on us. We were in survival mode, ate a lot of “drive through” and weren’t taking care of our bodies. We didn’t smile or laugh much for several months. STRESS. When I thought I was losing him, I realized how much pressure we had put on ourselves to complete tasks and realized that we had forgotten how to live, how to enjoy the moment, and how to have fun.
Yes, 2020 was HARD and yet it changed me in ways that I’m trying hard to maintain.
I learned to speak kindly to my own heart and that doing the best I can is a gift to others, even when my perfectionism thinks otherwise. The smallest of actions carried out in the spirit of love is all that’s really needed in this world…
What did 2020 teach you? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Every year I do the same thing…set huge, “pie-in-the-sky” goals that will radically change my life for the better.
The problem is…in my 50+ years, I’ve never achieved any of them…not a single one.
This failure to achieve over and over and over again, subconsciously tells me that I’m not good enough or strong enough and that deep down, I’m a failure.
2021 is the year that I let go of that plan of action and choose to take a different path…one that is gentler with myself and one that celebrates my successes instead of beating myself up for my failures.
This year, I am choosing to set ridiculously tiny goals….ones that seem silly because they are so easy to reach…ones that are daily activities to create good habits…ones that will reinforce my efforts…ones I can celebrate on a regular basis.
This year, I choose to recognize the good things and celebrate progress even if that progress is miniscule.
This year, I choose to focus on what I’m doing right instead of what I did wrong or didn’t do at all.
This is the year I choose to love myself.
Is this your year? I hope you will join me in choosing to love and celebrate oneself in 2021…
PS: If you’re curious about how I got to this mind shift, this book explains it very well…
“Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results” by Stephen Guise
If you’re curious to see how all this pans out in the end, subscribe to this blog and feel free to share with your friends… after all, we can all use a little encouragement once in a while…ok, maybe a lot of encouragement!
My sister and I were early teens and our younger cousin was spending the summer with us. We had never been on a long road trip style family vacation, so my dad decided to make up for lost time. He had saved up a ton of vacation and with the help of AAA and a pile of TripTiks, he planned out the ultimate road trip making sure to stop at all major national parks in the western US. I don’t remember the exact route we took but there are pictures from Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon…there may have been others that I am forgetting.
Needless to say, it was a LONG trip.
I remember being VERY bored and getting creative with things to do in the car. There was lots of laughter at those creative things… we brought along an entire zoo of stuffed animals and put on a “puppet show” for the motorists following behind us. The dialogue was hilarious, but I’m sure it was even funnier for the people watching when they couldn’t hear the reasons for the antics in the window.
My younger cousin was a boy, maybe 10 years old, so my sister and I tormented him with girly things like pretending to kiss him on the cheek when we posed for pictures. We tickled him without mercy. He blushed a lot that summer.
I don’t remember what started this, but one day we all started talking with a lisp…the phrase that is burned in my memory is “How many thicknethes do you have?” I think it may have come from one of the puppet shows and it was supposed to be “how many sicknesses do you have?” I do remember belly laughing until my face and yummy hurt!
Not only did we take the longest road trip ever, we saved money by camping…every night…in a tent. Now, I’m a pretty adventurous girl, but we were setting up and tearing down that tent almost every night (sometimes we’d stay in one place for 2 nights). I don’t care how avid a tent camper you are, that gets old pretty quick. We did get pretty efficient in the pitching of said tent, but there was one night I will never forget as long as I live…
We pulled into camp and there was a steady gently breeze. As we started pulling the tent and other campsite necessities out of the car, the wind picked up a bit. We rolled out the tent on the ground and started putting the poles in. It took all 5 of us, with the wind, but we finally got the tent set. I thought the wind might be getting stronger, but I wasn’t going to be the one to say anything about it. The sun went down and the wind got stronger still. We headed into the tent to crash for the night. It was HOT so all of us planned to sleep on top of our sleeping bags. We unzipped the “windows” for some ventilation and still the wind continued to whip the tent. I knew we were in for a long night, but I had no idea just how long it would turn out to be.
I don’t remember if I had dozed off or not, but my dad was fretting over the tent poles possibly getting bent or broken by the wind. He came up with the idea of removing the poles and allowing the tent to collapse over us, so next thing I knew, we were inside a collapsed tent with the wind flapping it all over us. I was miserable from the heat and the flapping tent…we all were. But wait… there’s more… Remember those open “windows”? The wind was pushing sand over the tent and depositing it on us through the windows in little bursts, keeping time with the flapping tent. I don’t think any of us slept that night, not even my younger cousin. In the morning we looked like the sand people from some B flick movie set. I have not gone camping in a tent since that infamous summer road trip.
What about you? Any funny family vaca stories to share? Feel free to tell us your story in the comments!
PS I’ll pull out the photo albums and add some pics to this post when I get home…we are stuck in FL right now with this “Stay at Home” order.
Never thought I’d say that as an adult…but then again I never thought I’d see the kind of things going on in our world today.
I’m in FL with my hubby and we left home a week ago. He works in the food service industry, repairing cooking and refrigeration equipment…the majority of his clients have had to close their doors for now. This means he has no work and since my business is mobile, we decided to head south. We’ve been considering moving this way and had been looking at property online, so we took the opportunity to drive by some options and landed at my in-laws house where we have been ever since…self quarantining.
I may be in FL, but this is no vacation. Everything is closed including the beaches. And unlike being stuck at home, I don’t have half finished projects to finish or closets to clean out. I don’t have kids to play games with or teach lessons to. I’ve walked my dog until my dog doesn’t want to walk anymore. So now what?
I held a Zoom meeting and went live on Facebook…several times today. Next up is writing some notes of encouragement. And then it should be about time to make dinner.
Tomorrow, I will wake up with the same thought…”still stuck here, so what will I do with my day?”
Today I was grateful that I have my own business. It’s one that I can do online which means I can work from literally anywhere as long as my phone &/or laptop are charged and working. I can’t tell you how many times I have had my day brightened by coworkers and/or customers. Because of them, I have a reason to push aside my melancholy feelings and encourage someone else who needs it more than I. My business is a life saver in more ways than just paying bills…it has connected me to people and built beautiful friendships with team members and customers alike. We encourage each other, make each other laugh, cry together, pray for each other, and share helpful ideas for work, home, and family.
You may not have ever considered your own business, but this might be the perfect time to give it a try. It might not be your cup of tea, but here’s why I love what I do….
I have a FREE website where customers order, the home office packages and ships, and I get a check at the end of the month. I don’t have to have inventory and I don’t have to do the shipping myself.
There are no monthly or quarterly minimums or quotas. To stay “active” I just need to place one $29 order each year (12 month period)…there are ZERO hidden fees.
I don’t have to harass my friends and family to buy or join.
I started earning 30% commission with the sale of my very first item and can earn up to 45% based on sales volume (I am almost always at 45%)
I can sell however I feel most comfortable…on social media, at in home gatherings, at vendor events, or sitting in the stands at a sporting event.
This week only (April 1-7, 2020), the enrollment kit is just $49! This includes over $300 in retail product, business and marketing supplies (brochures, catalogs, sales order forms, business cards, etc) and ongoing free online training. PLUS a free Business Planning Binder to get your business off to a great start.
What do you have to lose? Want to know more? CLICK HERE
If you have other questions or need further information, I’m happy to share what I know and if you stump me, I’m happy to go find the answer for you…
Sometimes that works in my favor and I excel at the task before me.
Sometimes it hinders me to the point of halting all progress.
You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while…I got behind and my perfectionist/OCD brain wouldn’t let me sit down to write until I could “catch up” (as in, catch up on all the days I’ve missed) I had a plan for this blog to write one post a day and when I skipped a day, my anxiety kicked in, my brain panicked, and my ability to write was gone. This is a bad thing for someone who normally has no problem getting thoughts “on paper” and is ocd about completing the job.
This concept of “being behind” has always been a difficult one for me. If I don’t think I can finish something, I often won’t try or I will start and get behind and give up. I have so many unfinished craft/sewing/home improvement projects from the last 30 years…it’s really quite dizzying. Every one of those unfinished tasks weighs on me and feeds negative thoughts to my brain…lies about how unsuccessful I am or how unreliable I am or how foolish I was to think I could do that.
Covid-19 has forced me to change the way I think about things. There are many tasks I can’t complete now. Many resources and businesses are closed, hindering my progress on a variety of levels. But this very situation has forced me to shift my thinking to what I CAN do right now…and guess what? I CAN post to my blog. I CAN write long overdue letters. I CAN put pictures in scrapbooks or make photo books. I CAN make new habits like a daily prayer journal. I CAN go Live on social media to stay in touch with friends and family. I CAN cook something new from Pinterest. I CAN purge that closet that’s been nagging at me. I CAN spend time encouraging and enjoying my hubby.
My day may not look like it did a month ago, but in some ways that’s not such a bad thing. I CAN do simple things with much thought and love. And I CAN make a difference just by sharing me…right here…where I’m at today.
What about you? What have you decided you CAN do today?
We’re not going to discuss the “C” word today, but I do want to give some ideas for things to do if you’re feeling some serious cabin fever about now! Here are some things to do with your family and/or roomies:
Bake something…who doesn’t love bread or cookies? You may have to get creative with what you already have in your pantry or even phone a friend, tell them what you have on hand, and challenge them to tell you what to make for dinner.
Create something…craft or art project. I know you’ve got half finished projects or supplies bought with good intentions…am I right? Now’s the perfect time to finish up those loose ends.
Play board or card games…this is a great way to laugh together and spend time with the ones you love. Need a new card game? Google is your friend…you can find all kinds of card game rules online.
Purge a room or closet…this is a great time to donate unused items to those who may be in need and create breathing space in your own home at the same time.
Write a letter or note of encouragement to friends and/or family members…who doesn’t love getting something other than bills in their mailbox?
I used to spend a LOT of time making valentines with my kids…they’re all grown now, but I always love the sweet memories that come back every year when I start to see all the valentine posts. The smell of Elmer’s glue, glitter EVERYWHERE, Crayola markers, “I love mom”, paper doilies are all connected to the nostalgic GIFs in my brain. Looking forward to repeating the process with grands at some point down the road…
Need some inspiration for making your own memories? I put together a Pinterest board of lots of fun ideas for cards, gifts and decorations…
Open space…it is rare these days, especially if you open your calendar or dayplanner.
I left my last job because it demanded that I give all of my open space to the company…that I basically was on call all the time for whatever “emergency” the company deemed necessary to do immediately. There was no regard for family time, self care, or just plain old breathing room. If you weren’t in the hospital or in jail, there was no other reason important enough to decline an invitation to resolve their latest crisis.
I landed in the hospital a few years back and I firmly believe it was due 100% to the fact that I had zero breathing room. There was never a moment in my day where I felt like I could just sit still and “be.” There was always something I could be, should be, needed to be doing which meant there was no time for being still, reflecting, resting, recharging, or filling my tank. Everything on my to do list became “necessary” and there was “nothing I could possibly cut out.”
We all know that “life happens” which meant, with a cram packed schedule already, there was no wiggle room to fit in the unexpected. This caused anxiety to skyrocket and the stress was beyond what I could handle. My body protested and my immune system went on strike causing me to get an infection in my throat called epiglotitus. It is life threatening in that it causes your throat to swell, closing off your airway. It is the closest I have ever been to dying and it still causes me great anxiety just thinking about the incident. I spent 3 days in the hospital on heavy duty antibiotics and I obviously survived but it was a major wake up call to me that I needed to take a very hard look at my lifestyle.
I didn’t make changes overnight and I struggled with my health and the same insane schedule for several more years until my life took an enormous shift. I married a man who recognized my problem and, when I became paralyzed with the belief that I didn’t have a choice in how my day played out, he was willing to step in and do something about it. He gently forced me to take a hard look at why I thought I couldn’t say no when someone “needed” me and then helped me actually say “no” when I needed to. This was a whole new territory for me and it was through his support that I was able to do it at all.
About the same time I started a bible study by Priscilla Shirer called “Breathe.” I met with a friend of mine every week and we worked our way through the book together, sharing our hearts and ideas. I began to declutter my day planner until I had it pared down to the most important things (my priorities)… that was the plan anyway. I didn’t quite make it to that ultimate goal until much later, but that part of the story brings in a whole other topic and will have to be told another day. God was working on my heart, preparing me to make more big changes later.
The best things that came out of that study were things that I could immediately start working on. I began to build some new healthy habits and those are still working for me today. Here are a few..
On Sunday, make a list of all the things you need and want to do for the week.
Review your priorities and fill in your schedule with those most important things first.
Each night, before you go to bed, make a schedule for tomorrow.
Leave open space in your dayplanner every single day for the unexpected…even if nothing unexpected pops up, sometimes what we have planned takes longer than we anticipate and if not, use that time to rest, reflect, recharge…do NOT cram something else into that empty space.
Put self care on your schedule EVERY SINGLE DAY. This does not have to be anything major…a bubble bath, a cup of coffee out on the porch, a walk around the neighborhood…self care means you do something all by yourself to refresh your spirit. And don’t be like me and tell yourself you don’t have time! MAKE THE TIME to keep your mind and body healthy!
Do you have breathing room in your daily schedule? Do you see it as a necessity or simply a luxury?