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Hand in Hand We Go

 

OBX 2006

We moved into our neighborhood a little over 14 years ago.  I was elbow deep into the throws of motherhood with a 17 month old and a 6 week old.  There was no air.  My life was consumed with mothering.  There was no time for friends, no time for anything but surviving.  It brought unimaginable joys, but for me these were challenging times.

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It took me years to really get out from under my “Baby Rock”.  Our last child came 3 years later when my oldest was in Kindergarten.  Having a child in school lifted the rock of isolation for us.  I began meeting other moms who were in the same season of life as I.  There was a sisterhood built during these years with women who understood what it was like to be a stay-at-home mom.

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I want to be clear that I am in no way drawing a line dividing working moms versus non-working moms.  Each side comes with its own glories and punishments.  But all I know is what I went through staying home.  That choice was made for me as our first child was born requiring a lot of medical attention.  So I hung up my blazers and heels in exchange for jeans and t-shirts undoubtedly stained courtesy of my beloved littles.

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Now that my oldest is 15 and my youngest is 11, I am getting to watch the most remarkable and unexpected renaissance as the women that I raised our children with are finding their way to reclaiming their identities.  No longer just so-and-so’s mom, or Mrs. Whatever, these smart, talented, fine women are redefining who they are and going after dreams that they probably couldn’t have imagined a decade ago.

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It’s almost like watching a garden fill in and bloom.  I’m watching the rebirth of souls in the form of gainful employment, entrepreneurialism, and continuing education.  These women who I watched sometimes secretly mourn their former lives while raising their children, are now taking brave steps to reshape and take back their own lives.

Whether it’s as a baker, a real estate agent, a teacher, a philanthropist, or an author (that’s me!), these women are dusting off their confidence and blooming in their new roles.  I couldn’t be prouder watching each of them on their own paths of growth.  I couldn’t be more excited at the examples they are for their own children and for younger generations of new mothers.  And I couldn’t be more amazed at the energy and sheer determination of the phoenixes that I call my friends.

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Although we do not get to spend as much time together because of our crazy work/life balancing acts that we are negotiating, I am so grateful to have had the company and support of this tribe.  I am excited for each and all of their new adventures, and I am honored to watch them grow into their new spectacular selves.  Cheers ladies!  Here’s to you, your bravery, your sacrifice, and the new you.  We held hands through child rearing.  Let us now hold hands through raising teenagers and pursuing our own dreams separately, but together.

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Redbud

redbud branch
Have you ever stopped to ponder
The beauty that you see
Whenever you gaze upon
The lovely redbud tree.
It’s cherry blossomed cousins
Put on dramatic show
Their flowers come with presence
But their blossoms quickly go.
The redbud arrives in silence
No festival or cheer
Stately and with purpose
They quietly appear.
Their shock of hue unique
Not red as name suggests
More a mix of pink and purple
Or purpley pink, at best.
Their role is to distract
From cherries’ season end
To share their gift of color
Then covertly fade to blend.
I wonder about human nature
In comparison to these trees
Do you require fanfare
Or can you do your job and leave?
~ Jennifer Chatman

Guest – Beth Gully – Author – The Other Side of Easter

Beth Gully - Easter - with book

In November of 2017, I featured Beth Gully, Graphic designer and author, on my blog.   It was right at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, so I was thrilled at our timing for the post. At that time, Beth was promoting her Christmas themed children’s book, The Other Side of Christmas, An Upside-Down Book, and now has followed up that successful story with her “sequel”, The Other Side of Easter.

Keeping with the *ambigram style in the illustrations, Beth has done it again, with her take on the story of the Easter Bunny entwined with the real story behind Easter. Her one-of-a-kind talent is seen on every page and with every flip of the book. All wrapped in the springy color palette, this book is just lovely from beginning to end.

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She’s been getting great recognition in her mid-west region of the country with book signings and television appearances. But it is the word-of-mouth recommendations that are so meaningful to her, and they are coming from all over the country! (You heard it here, folks.)

Beth Gully - Easter - TV

The biggest challenge with this latest book, Beth shares, is that her audience has become “wiser”. It takes more effort and imagination on her part as the artist to come up with surprises and delights for her readers.  And she has delivered!

It’s an important part of Beth’s story to recall that it took her eight years to complete The Other Side of Christmas all due to her feelings that she was not worthy or talented enough to pull off the concept that she had birthed in her mind. The success of her Christmas story opened her eyes and mind to the fact that she is enough just the way she is. This stumbling block of old did not take hold this go around. You can feel her well earned confidence on the pages of The Other Side of Easter.

Beth Gully - The other side of easter

Still incredibly humble and as sweet as the day is long, Gully is taking her identity as an author in stride. TV appearances and media coverage aside, Beth is enjoying the journey of the marketing side of authorship and delights in the unexpected twists and turns of her successes.

To get your copy of The Other Side of Easter (AND The Other Side of Christmas) visit www.TheOtherSideOfEaster.com

And to refresh your memory on my original interview with Beth Gully, please visit

https://jenniferthebeholder.com/2017/11/02/guest-beth-gully-bt-graphics-author-the-other-side-of-christmas-an-upside-down-book/

*Ambigram – (AM-bi-gram) – An ambigram is a word, art form or other symbolic representation whose elements retain meaning when viewed or interpreted from a different direction, perspective, or orientation.  ~Wikipedia

Perspective: Hold the Door!

Manners have always been super important to me.  I’ve tried to educate my children, in really top notch manners, but I have not been as successful as I had hoped.  I place high value on excellent manners, but I’m not sure other people do.  So I thought I would use my Perspective Group to see if I’m alone on this.

In the midst of the era of “The Woman”, I was particularly interested in one traditional action that would be classified as good manners, but in the time of post-women’s lib, I wonder, do women still like to have the door held for them.

So again, I’ve polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

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“Yes, I like to have the door held for me.  Thinking that the person holding the door could be off where they need to go, but instead they are holding the door for someone, is really kind of them to do.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

Charleston magnolia wreath door

“I consider holding the door for someone a kind gesture, so if someone holds it for me, man or woman, young or old, I am always appreciative of it. I don’t tend to look into these sorts of things like some would- you know those people who like to tie in gender roles with expectations or feminism, or talks of chivalry, respect… etc etc, yadda, yadda? Let’s just say, I’m not that type of person. For me, I treat any and all simple gestures as neutral acts of kindness that are reflective of individual people. So, do I expect a door to be held open for me? No. Do I appreciate when someone holds the door open for me? Yes, as I would equally if someone simply waves, or smiles, or says hello to me. Oh, and do I like to/try to hold the door for others? Absolutely.” ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

Copperwood door

“I feel that having the door held for me, and subsequently me holding the door for others, is basic human manners. It’s a simple gesture that says “I see you”. It doesn’t take much to break from your daily rush and pause to help another person.” ~ Jackie O. 30s

Turks restarurant doors

“How do I feel about someone holding the door for me?  I think it’s great. I hold the door for everyone, every age or gender. I think it’s just a polite thing to do. In fact when someone doesn’t hold the door for me, I feel like it’s rude. Just like I feel as though it was strange “back in the day” when men would hold the door open for women but a woman wouldn’t necessarily hold the door for a man, I feel like it would be weird for a man to not hold the door for a woman now, because they might be concerned that it would offend them. Bottom line, everyone should hold the door for everyone! It just comes down to being kind.” ~Jen 40s

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“My answer to whether I like to have the door held open for me is a resounding YES.  The action is tops in good manners.  It says to the person, “I see you.  You are not invisible and I actually think you matter enough to help through a door.”  I get super upset when my boys (particularly my boys) charge through a door and just let it fall into the person coming behind them.  It is incredibly rude and selfish.

I think it’s particularly important for men to hold the door.  I understand that this is sexist, but men are traditionally thought of as care takers or protectors.  This belief might seem antiquated, especially to those strong women out there that feel it undermines them as women or adults, but I disagree that having the door held for you undermines you as a woman.  I actually feel like it does the opposite.  It honors you as a woman.  It demonstrates, through a very small action that you are worth having the door held for you.  You are worth consideration and thoughtfulness.  And I challenge you, what better protection can you give than to insure that those near you get in to the building you are visiting safely?

Having said that, I also believe that it is my duty to hold the door for others, male or female.  It is just common courtesy.  ESPECIALLY for a parent trying to negotiate a stroller, which is NOT easy to do, or for someone who might outrank me in the age department.  It’s about courtesy and respect for others.

I won’t give up on my boys.  There is always potential for growth.  But I stand firm in believing that it is an important tradition in our increasingly self centered society.”  ~Jennifer 50s

Dad and me wedding car

“Do I like a door  being held for me? Isn’t it strange that we would even need to think about this or question it?

I do like the door being held for me, if possible. I like making eye contact with people with a smile. I Like to hear please and thank you. Holding the door is not a feminist issue for me. It is kindness. It is looking at the world in an unselfish way. I will gladly hold the door for anyone who needs help with it, being male or female.  I believe I should hold the door for the elderly.

I think this question addresses our social interaction in today’s world. Courtesy, manners, kindness, thoughtfulness, and selflessness are needed more than ever.
Being aware of others instead of just ourselves will promote peace.

So, look up from your phone. Smile at someone. And look for the kindness around you. I truly believe you get what you look for and expect.” ~ Barbara 60s

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“How do I feel about someone holding the door open for me? I feel very grateful when that happens and I will thank the person who was kind enough to do that for me. I think this person was taught good manners. I, in turn, will do the same for other people. As you get older you appreciate these little things.”  ~Peggy 70’s

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“I definitely vote for holding the door. I like the feeling of respect. It doesn’t make me feel helpless because I hold the door for others as well. No gender preferences. My husband was a real gentleman and did it easily. It made me feel special.”  ~Temple 80s

****

In reading the responses from each participant, IT WAS UNANIMOUS!  Each of the women polled enjoy having the door held for them.  In addition, each of the women polled would also voluntarily hold the door for someone else.  There was repeated mention of kindness, manners, and respect.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.  And, should our paths cross in a doorway in the future, I hope I’m there to hold the door for you.

God Friended Me Too

I’ve had a bit of a writer’s slump the past few weeks.  Well, in truth, a slump all around.  I struggled with the post Christmas blues, the ominous presentation of a new year, the massive checked box of another decade under my belt, all nicely capped off with some unexpected health issues.  It’s been challenging….yeah, that’s what I’ll call it, challenging.

old-style-whatever-meme

I’ve made it pretty well known that I am a person who relies on my faith quite a bit.  This rocky patch is no exception.  I lean in whether I get clear responses in return or not.  I lean in.  I continue to lean in.

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Ever have thoughts that are like pesky summer gnats that just are relentless at demanding your attention?  This show, on CBS, has been one of those gnats.  Ever since I saw the first trailer of this show, God Friended Me, I’ve been intrigued, but never took the time to sit down and watch.  I’m happy to say that my kids have also been interested in checking out the show, so in the midst of my blue period, we tuned in.  I found myself smiling for the first time in a good while.  The show delivered hope to me in a way I desperately needed.  A little dose of positivity.  No zombies, no post apocalyptic world, no Trump, no Pelosi, no pressure, no stress.  Just a mental break from negativity.

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I have found that in my greatest challenging times, service to others was always an unfailing remedy.  This show was an entertaining reminder.  Let the binge watching begin!

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While watching, I found myself wishing that God would just friend me already so I’d know what my next task should be.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  And so easy!  I just follow the lead and everything gets wrapped up in a beautiful, poignant bow in 60 minutes or less.  Sigh.  A girl can dream…..

photo of a woman holding an ipad
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But the truth takes more effort than that.  Effort.  Ugh, effort.  When one is down, effort seems impossible.  But that’s what it’s gonna take.  The bright side is, it just takes a little bit at a time to get things moving in the right direction.  I took really small steps in writing again, and here I am.  Am I feeling good about it?  Not entirely.  #truth

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I’m not sure what the future holds for this blog, or my Jennifer the Beholder social media presence.  Right now it’s just not feeling….right.  But I will make an effort.

Eugh-Effort

Do you need to make an effort?  Is there somewhere in your life that could use a little bit of trying?  Something you’ve been ignoring?  I challenge you (there’s that word again) to take a tiny step.  Perhaps we can rule this together!  I’ll hold your hand if you hold mine.  I’m afraid of heights, so the jumps won’t be big.  What do you say?  You in?

Perspective: Beach. Mountains. City.

The new year can be daunting for a lot of people.  I, for one, am one who suffers from anxiety and borderline depression when faced with the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Although my feelings of dread have subsided over the years, I still feel my annual let down after the excitement of the Christmas season.

In light of the potential post holiday blues, I thought I would lighten the mood a bit.  I thought it would be good for all of us to start the year with positive thoughts, energy and memories, so I asked my awesome Perspective Group to tell me what they prefer; Beach, Mountains, or City, and why?

I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

Liney the sand mermaid

“I would pick the beach because the beach just seems so peaceful compared to the city.  And I also feel more engaged when I’m by the beach than when I’m by the mountains.  Also there’s so much to do at the beach like you can go swimming, you can go surfing, you can build a sandcastle and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Also the beach feels like one of those places where I can just let it all out and truly let my child part run free.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

“This is tough. I’ve never been great at choosing a favorite anything, so to narrow this down to one just doesn’t seem right or, really, fair to the other two options. And really, at the heart of it, I like all three for different reasons.

The mountains for the perspective they give me and for their challenge. Every year my family and I would vacation in the mountains and go hiking. I loved the challenging climbs; the steep uphills, the mud, the rocks. What was most exhilarating was reaching the summit. Looking down and seeing how small everything below me was always reminded me of life and the insignificance of silly things I would put so much weight on. Hiking the mountains allowed me to be with myself while also being with my family. I love the opportunity to just think and the mountains always provided the best backdrop for that.

Now the beach, for me, is a great vacation. Soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the warm ocean, now that sounds perfect right about now (especially since it’s currently cold and rainy where I live). The beach is a great getaway for me. It allows me just to relax and unwind. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and not feel the need to do anything and the beach is exactly the place for that. The beach is also one of my favorite napping places, and I lovvveee me some naps, so there’s that too :).

Overall a city is where I prefer to live. While I do love to visit other cities, much like I like to head to mountains or the beach, what sets a city apart from the others is that it is my preferred location to live. I love the options a city provides. Whether it be activities such as museums, or shopping, or great restaurants. I feel there is always something going on in a city, and while this seems contradictory to my personality since I’m a pretty big homebody, I like to know I could be out somewhere even if I end up staying home to watch Netflix ;). I like the hustle and bustle. The opportunities feel endless. And while I like being alone, I like knowing I’m surrounded by a lot of people as well. I also like the culture a city brings. A metropolitan brings so many different people to one place and I like that.

If I could have it my way, I’d live in a big city where, depending on the direction you drove, you’re no more than an hour away from the mountains and the beach. I mean, one can dream, right ;).” ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

Jackie and Jesse beach pic

“Hands down my favorite place is the beach! I love the sand, the water, and even how my hair reacts to the salty air. I’ve been so blessed to visit so many beautiful beaches that it’s incredibly difficult to choose my favorite so I’m going to cheat and name my top two. For nostalgia, I choose Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, because it’s an adorable beach town that I grew up visiting with my family every year. But the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to was in Negril, Jamaica (pictured) due to its perfectly warm, turquoise water, soft sand, and beautiful weather, plus you can’t beat the sunset!” ~ Jackie O. 30s

Jen Sphar beach pic

“Given the choice, I would go to the beach every time. My love for the beach probably has a lot to do with my childhood. I grew up on an island, a very Long Island. <3 Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world were only a 30 minute drive from our front doorstep.  From the time I was born, during the warm months and in the summer, we went to the beach.

My Grandparents loved the beach.  For my Grandfather, having been a lifeguard in Brooklyn when he was a teenager, the beach was the perfect place to spend the day; playing in the waves, building sandcastles and laying in the sun. Many of the photos I have of my childhood are taken with my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, wearing sunglasses and beach hats, under colorful umbrellas at the beach. My affinity for all things beach-related undoubtedly stems from being intertwined with fond memories from my childhood.

For me the beach is like going home. The waves, the sounds, feeling of the sand under my feet and especially the smells, all take me back and I am instantly in my happy place. When I was a teenager, the beach was a place that I would go with my friends to get away. Or we would drive down at night when we had nothing better to do.  Now the beach is where I have made amazing memories with my own family.  It is the most favorite place that my kids like to be and we look forward to our beach vacations (having visited various beaches up and down the east coast) every summer. I can already tell that I have passed my love for the beach down to them and I hope they bring their own little families to the beach someday too!” ~Jen 40s

“I am a city girl.  Although I spent my childhood and young adulthood pining for the beach, I have evolved into a city girl.  I don’t want to live in a city, not of any significant size at least, but the city is where I want to go for vacation.  It’s where I feel my truest self outside of my own house.

I am fascinated by the engineering miracles that fill a city.  From the artistry of actual people of an ancient time creating intricate masterpiece caliber artwork and architecture, to just marveling at how folks who live in a modern high rise get their heavy furniture moved up and in. It fills me with wonder and amazement.

There’s something about being in a city that, all at once, can make me feel the exhilaration and excitement of childhood, masterfully paired with a grown sense of sophistication.

I love the plethora of shops and endless cafes and restaurants.  There is no shortage of things to do and culture abounds.  AND as side bonuses, I don’t need to worry about wearing a bathing suit or if I’m going to get poison ivy.  Win. Win. Win.   Go Team City!”  ~Jennifer 50s

Barbara Alaska

“City, Beach, Mountains!!! How to choose?  I love them all.

But choose I must. Since I live in Florida, only 6 miles from the beach, the beach is not my choice. I enjoy being in cities for short periods of time. They are exciting with so much to do, but I prefer the mountains.

Some of my fondest memories have been in the mountains. Born in West Virginia, college in Frostburg, Maryland (in the mountains of course), hiking trips in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Sequoia National Forest, and the hilly landscape of Italy, and hiking alongside a glacier in Alaska have been just a few experiences I treasure and would love to repeat. And there are new mountains to climb, I hope, in the future. I am drawn to the TV sets of Outlander, Game of Thrones (The North) and The Last of the Mohicans. The mountains and forest call my soul.

In a song I wrote about visiting memories.  These lyrics explain my choice of the mountains:

“It’s the struggle of a mountain climb embraced by pine trees’ silence, the sights and sounds of nature breathe in us new life arriving at the stony peak surrounded by God’s vision.
Awestruck in wonder at such an awesome sight. In such a busy and noisy world, the mountains help me to find the silence and peace I need. It helps me slow down and observe God’s beautiful creation.” ~ Barbara 60s

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“When it comes to beach, mountains, and city, I would choose mountains. I haven’t had a lot of time in the mountains, but the times I have had there were restful and I enjoyed the fresh air. I would not want to be isolated.  I would need to have neighbors and shopping areas to go to. I would like to have hiking trails to help stay fit. I have never been a beach person and do not like big cities; too much noise and people everywhere.”  ~Peggy 70’s

french neighborhood

“I’ve traveled to some very wonderful places, but of all the places to choose, the one place that sticks in my mind is a small hotel on “Rue Clare”in Paris, France.  It was located on a busy market street.  Just imagine running across the street finding delicious fresh food tempting you.  Either the scent of fresh bread, coffee, meats and cheeses, and a wide array of fresh fruits.  Then at 5:00 pm on the dot, the markets closed, the streets were cleaned, and the street was calm and peaceful.

Right next door to the hotel was a quaint cafe with seating outside and soft music playing.  A perfect spot to end a day of sightseeing.  Another perk was that the hotel was located less than a block from underground transportation.  Most convenient for the next day’s adventure.  So I guess the city wins for me.  Cest la vie!”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it was clear that each answer was influenced by how the environment affected our souls.  Each of us spoke to how their preference calmed them, or exhilarated them, and often brought to the surface memories dear to us.

As we are now squarely into the New Year, I hope that you were transported to your favorite earthy respite.  Be sure to share your choice in the comments.  Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year to All.  May 2019 bring you amazing soul reaching adventures.

And So it Goes

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I am approaching a big birthday.  Needless to say, I’m not thrilled about it.  I’ve not been one to age gracefully in that I just dread the new higher number every single year.  It doesn’t help that my birthday is coupled with the let down from Christmas and my historical dread of the new year.  These post Christmas weeks are sort of my perfect storm of sucking.

perfect storm

I’ve watched others in my life embrace and truly celebrate their annual big day.  My grandmother looked forward to every single year that she was given.  My oldest sister doesn’t give age a second thought.  I have friends who have thrown themselves celebrations to commemorate the change in decade and they get excited to do so.  I have other friends so excited for their birthday that they celebrate the whole month!

I envy these people.  I just don’t feel it.

kevin hart birthday month

I’m really not sure why this is such an issue for me.  I spend a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around my feelings, especially this year.  Perhaps that’s part of the problem.  There’s no aspect of my birthday that stands out as the defining problem.  I kind of wish there was, so I could undo that knot.

Problem-Solving

Is it the actual act if aging?  Is it the feeling of lack of accomplishment in my life?  Is it the feeling that, particularly as a mom of young kids, there really is no day just about me?  Is it the feeling that I cannot celebrate with all of the people in my life that are important to me? Is it that all of the birthday decorations associated with my age could also double as funeral decor? Or could it be all of these things?

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This year is particularly challenging for me.  It’s a big one.  I’m torn straight down the middle of ignoring it completely, but I feel the tug to make some sort of deal out of it for the sake of my children.  I don’t want my kids to dread their birthdays like I do.  I want them to celebrate each year they are given because it truly is a gift.  I want them to savor getting showered with love and getting to enjoy a day that is just for them.  And I want them to understand how to provide those moments for the people that they will have in their lives in the future.  I also don’t want to look back and have any regrets about my lack of celebration.

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So as I anticipate “the day”, I’m trying desperately to change my mindset, hence this article.  I’m telling myself all of the old cliches to soften the blow.  I’m looking to those that I envy to try to emulate their awesome attitude.  And I’m trying not to be outwardly blue.  My hope behind this article was that through expressing my true feelings, I might shed some light and lighten the mood.

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So happy early birthday to me.  As I blow out my candles this year, you can be sure that I will be wishing for this sick feeling to leave my stomach and that I latch on to every single one of the millions of blessings that I have been given, so that those positive feelings can sustain me through my next trip around the sun and many more in the future.

cheers-to-another-trip-around-the-sun-pam-vale

 

Christmas Time is Here

charlie brown christmas

“Christmas time is here.  Happiness and cheer.  Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air.  Carols everywhere.  Olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air, beauty everywhere.  Yuletide by the fireside, and joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here.  We’ll be drawing near.  Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.”  By Lee Mendelson & Vince Guaraldi

I have fond memories of this song mainly due to the fact that it is tied to the popular Charlie Brown Christmas special.  In the days before Cartoon Network with 24/7 cartoons, DVDs and Netflix, we had only one shot a year to see this special, live on television.  One shot!  If you missed it, you had to wait until the next Christmas to get another shot.  And since cartoons were only on TV on Saturday mornings, our brains were not over saturated with animated shows.  Charlie Brown Christmas, on a major network, during prime time, was a BIG DEAL.

charlie brown christmas title

Some of my favorite childhood memories are connected with Charlie Brown.  Truth, I had the song “Linus and Lucy” played as they introduced our wedding party to our reception when Chris and I got married, and it is my ringtone on my cell.

nerd alert

So even though this song is sad or melancholy sounding, it still evokes happy feelings for me, especially the line, “Carols everywhere”.  I laugh every time I hear this line.  You see, my sister’s name is Carole.  I just imagine her running around like a crazy lady at Christmas time, so I always sing it/imagine it, “Carole’s everywhere”.  LOL!  Love you Carole! <3

Carole

But I think the line that stands out the most to me is, “Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.”  This is my dream.  I love Christmas time.  I love the food, the decorations, the music, the sparkle, and how people seem kinder.  I want to lose myself in this feeling every year.  I work really hard in October and November to try to knock out as much of the holiday prep as I can so that I can enjoy as much of the season as possible.  It’s never long enough.  I  wish I could lose myself in Christmas every year.  I mean seriously lose myself and never go back.  I love the warm feelings, the kind feelings, the heart warming feelings and I wish, so very much, that I could see such spirit through the year.

dandelion nature sunlight
Photo by Nita on Pexels.com

But come December 26, something just doesn’t feel the same.  It’s not meant to last.  And I understand that the end of the festive vibes is probably why Christmas time feels so special.

it's the most wonderful time of the year

May your Christmas be filled with happiness and cheer.  May it truly be your favorite time of year.  May there be snowflakes in the air…enough for ambiance, but not enough to make travel dangerous or to cancel flights like in all of the Hallmark movies.  May you enjoy carols, and sleigh bells, and beauty everywhere.  May you have yuletide by the fireside and make joyful memories.  May you draw near to those you love and care about and may YOU see this spirit through your year.

Merry Christmas!
Jennifer

 

 

The Order of Things

mind-blown-emoji

I had my mind blown a few days ago. It happens. Maybe not too often, but it does indeed happen. I was watching a video about Advent. Advent is the season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ celebrated by Christians in the weeks prior to Christmas. (For more, see my article from last year entitled “Advent”).

advent wreath

One of the speakers in the video re-ordered a common phrase that many of us have heard. (In other words, he rearranged the order of the phrase.) Astoundingly, he completely changed my perception of the phrase without changing the intent of the meaning and it blew my mind completely.

The common phrase that I’m sure you’ve heard is, “Let go; let God.” But the gentleman in the video re-ordered it to, “Let God; let go.” I couldn’t believe it. It was so simple, but the order of these words, in their new order made everything different and better!

trust fall fail

Think of the good ol’ trust fall. If I said to you, “Fall back, someone will catch you,” you might seriously wonder if someone would indeed catch you. But if I said to you, “Someone will catch you. Fall back,” that just feels more certain. It paints the image that someone is waiting to catch you even before you fall.

GAME CHANGER.

trust-fall

I began to ponder the order of things and how it really does matter a lot of the time. Most people enjoy order. It makes them feel secure and in the know. Simple examples of order:

  1. Get gas in your car before you head out of town.
  2. Get your popcorn before the movie starts.
  3. Marinate the meat before you cook it.

Some order just has to be. There’s no changing it and rearranging the order can cause chaos.

Have you ever been waiting in a long line and someone comes late and butts several people in front of you? It’s not popular to do that. Or how about someone incorrectly shelving books in the library. The order is disrupted and no one can find the books they are looking for. Chaos.

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There are even implied rules when associated with birth order. Most of the time, it’s the oldest child that is assumed will do everything first. Chaos might not ensue from this being re-ordered, but there might be some hurt feelings or bruised egos.

My point is, as a society, we rely on order…a lot. Especially my fellow A-type OCDer’s. Order reigns supreme. In our day-to-day lives, it probably doesn’t occur to most of us to re-order or rearrange any of it. But maybe we’ve been missing out?

low angle view of office building against clear sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Seeing things from a different angle or perspective can enlighten you and maybe even delight you. Give it a go. Change things up. Look at someone else’s view. Look for the unique occasions where changing the order makes things better. It could be a game changer.

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Perspective – Advice to Our Younger Selves

Often times you hear someone being asked what advice they would give to their younger selves.  I thought it would be an interesting exercise to ask the Perspectives Team what advice they would give to themselves.  In considering my own answer I realized that the advice that I would give to my younger self is the advice that I need to continue to live and follow still today.

I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

Caroline's younger self 2011

“If I were to give some advice to my younger self, I think it would be to not sit in a W because that now makes it harder for me to stay turned out in ballet.  It took me a really long time to learn to sit criss cross applesauce.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

Cristina younger self

“Given that I’ve only taken 20+ trips around the sun, I realize that I may not have the resume suited for lending advice. But time is a funny thing, and while I may not have more time than most, I’ve had many experiences that have helped me grow and evolve to the person standing in my shoes today. So, with that, here it goes….

Cristina, you’ll like yourself a lot at 29, and you’ll definitely be proud of who you are in this moment. I don’t really have any advice for you perse, but I will leave you with just three things; One, just start no matter what. Two, remember “everything you can imagine is real”. And three, ask your parents for fake glasses that actually HAVE lenses in them. Lensless glasses really just defeats the purpose.  🙂 That’s it. Love you little Cristina. I’m still working on making all of your dreams and wishes come true. Just know that you are who I continue to strive to be. ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

JOberholtzer throwback

“Let go of your pride. There will always be someone better and more successful than you. Life isn’t a competition. Your pride can prevent you from experiencing some of life’s great joys. Don’t let it stop you from living your life and loving others for living theirs and enjoying their successes.” ~ Jackie O. 30s

JSphar throwback

“Advice I would give to a younger me…

I would tell her how important it is to listen to her gut instinct when she feels it. I have realized that it is, very often, spot on. (This is something I still struggle with and need to remind myself of now!) I would tell her to stop worrying so much about what other people think because in the grand scheme of things, being kind and focusing on being a good friend, person, wife, mother, and daughter is all that really matters.

I would actually tell the youngest version of myself that she has anxiety and that she needs to forgive herself for having those anxious feelings. That many other people have it too, it’s an actual thing and she’s not the only one who is weird or insecure. I would remind her to try as much as possible to live in the moment and really appreciate what she has right now.  Oh, and I would tell her to STOP laying out in the sun.” ~Jen 40s

senior pic

“I would advise my younger self to enjoy the present.  Don’t worry about the past or fret about the future.  It only squanders the moment that you are in.  Life is always moving and if your head is in the past or future too long, you miss the present completely.  Life has a way of working out for the good if you just trust in your path and have patience when everything seems to be at a standstill.  Like jumping onto a moving carousel, sometimes you have to stand still for a moment to get yourself on the moving ride at the right time and in the right place.”  ~Jennifer 50’s ish (I’ll be 50 in January 🙂 )

BMazzone throwback

“Unsolicited advice is criticism. So, younger self, I will not impart advice. I will tell you what you will experience. I also hope that when this 62 year old reaches 90 she will be as blessed by this journey we call life.

You will be fine. Life will surprise you and disappoint you, but always you will benefit from either experience. Hard times will reveal your strength, your heart, and your true friends. You are blessed with many loving people in your life, starting with your family. You will never be alone because of your faith. You will be supported and loved by an amazing husband.

You will have a beautiful, loving, and talented daughter who is the joy of your heart. Your son in-law is the son you never had and is perfect for your daughter. And at this point you are head over heals in love with your granddaughter who named you Yaya.

Although you will make many mistakes they have not turned into regrets. You will count your blessings, use your talents and gifts and try to love and bring peace along the way.

So, enjoy this blessed and wonderful journey. You will be more than fine.” ~ Barbara 60s

Peggy younger self

“I am thinking of my grade school years. I was quite bashful and only felt comfortable with certain kids in my class. I tried to teach myself to be more out going and to make more friends. By the time I got to high school I had made many more friends and, even to this day, I have so many dear friends. I went to a four year college studying to be a nurse. I quit college to marry my husband of 51 years; the best advice I ever gave myself.”  ~Peggy 70’s

dad and mom engagement

“I have endless advice to give a younger self. Much is related to stupid stuff that I would learn shortly after I did that I’d never to do that again. Other things were harder to change like weight, raising kids, and the big ones, worry and fear.

Looking back at old photos of myself, I realize that I wasn’t fat at all. I really looked pretty good. I should have been realistic and never tried extreme diets that never had long lasting positive results and only left me with a lifetime of misery. While raising my children I was always hoping and praying that they would grow up to be happy productive adults. Some days I was blissfully happy at their progress. Other days I was sure they would never get along and would hate one another. I would now tell myself to chill out and be patient; that all will be well. That’s 20/20 hindsight talking.

Fear and worry is an on going trial. FEAR, an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real, and worry go hand and hand.  I’d advise myself to give it to God to handle in His own time. Definitely not easy….I seem to want to hold on a tad.  Surrendering myself was and is even now a work in progress.”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it was clear that each answer was to correct something that may still impact us today.  Themes of patience and advice to live in the moment also were reoccurring.  I also found it comforting that, like me, the others felt that they still needed to remind themselves now of the advice they would give to their younger selves.

We are heading into the New Year shortly.  As I’ve established previously in my January 19, 2017 post “Resolutions”, I don’t do resolutions.  But having gone through the exercise, I think one goal for the new year might just be to try to live my advice now.  Take the time to consider your own advice to your younger self.  Join in the conversation and add your advice in the comments.