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Pieces of me

Inspiration for those who warrior on

Meme with crown: Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Today is the legendary Black author, Toni Morrison’s 88th Birthday. If you are not a fan of hers, I’d be willing to bet you have not read much or any of hers.

About a month ago, I wrote this piece, ON MLK’S HOLIDAY, I’M ASKING WHITE FOLK TO GET UNCOMFORTABLE. Therein, I encourage introspection and listening in these times of racial tension. I truly believe that we need to do more listening to voices that differ from ours in order to be our best selves.

If that means something to you and you have not (or even for those of us who have), today is a good day to start one of Morrison’s glorious portrayals of Black America.

Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind. – Toni Morrison

Her writing took me to a world that I didn’t know or understand. Her words seeped into my pores, allowing me to feel and experience that world that I have never lived in and never will. Her characters play out themes and ideas with a skill level few have achieved, but in an effortless way for the reader to absorb.

Ms. Morrison has a gift that she has shared with the world. Don’t miss out on it. Open up Song of Solomon or Paradise and surrender to the world she wants to share with you.

Don’t impose your world view on it. Don’t judge it by your limited experiences. Embrace that which is foreign and maybe uncomfortable, at first. If you do, you will soon enjoy it. Sit with it. Soak in it, and let yourself grow as a human in this wildly, rich, and complicated world.

Happy birthday, Toni Morrison.

Where to start with Toni Morrison Books.

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person holding pen writing a valentine or love note

Love is elusive sometimes when we seek only romantic love.

But love is patient. Love is kind, and that may be easier to find.

The “why don’ts” fall off the tongue so easily, like little truth bombs.

Why doesn’t my partner do this and that? Why doesn’t he notice this or why doesn’t she understand that?

They are accusation bombs that feel like truth to a thirsty soul, but they are not patient or kind.

Love is more than the facts of interactions between two souls.

Love is a kiss goodbye when your hair is greasy and unkempt. That’s patience.

Love is a ham and cheese omelette that stuck to the pan, but tasted better than it looked. That was kindness.

Today, I choose to look for the patience and the kindness my partner shows me. Because in those I find the love my “he doesn’t” accusations miss.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

person holding pen writing a valentine or love note

It’s February, the love month. While the commercialization of the holiday can be off-putting, there’s no reason to forgo the opportunity to focus on love.

My dad was a preacher, so excuse me a moment while I geek out, or Greek out, to be exact. In Greek, there are several words for love. Philia is friendship love. Eros is romantic love, and apage is unconditional love.

In English, we say we love pizza and that new series on Netflix, and then use the same word to talk about how we feel about our kids or other loved ones. We all know there is a huge degree of difference in the feelings we have for objects as opposed to people. Moreover, we love our best friend differently than we do a significant other.

However, during this love month, let’s be more mindful of those deep connected feelings we have for our friends and family. It is and it should be different than how we feel about our favorite pair of leggings (although, that’s a special feeling too).

I found a great idea on momsoftweensandteens.com. It’s a simple idea. Put a heart on your kids’ door every day in February telling them all the things you love about them.

It’s been helpful in making me focus on my love for my kiddos. I won’t lie, though, it’s been a bit challenging. Loving my kids is pretty easy, but articulating a specific aspect about them every day that I love and appreciate is not something I’ve ever done. I don’t know what they are getting out of it, but I am having to stop and think about it.

But that’s why I recommend the exercise. We’re so busy chauffeuring them to activities and doing homework and projects and trying to get them to eat right and not melt their brains with too much screen time. These things we do for and with our kids (family) are all outgrowths of our love for them. They aren’t bad things, but the business keeps us from stopping and being mindful of why we love them.

So, whether you decorate your kids’ doors with paper hearts or not (or even have kids), I do hope you find a way to slow down and think about your love for the people in your life. Think about why you love. Think about how you show your love. Think about the importance of that love.

party balloons and confetti

Happy Blogiversary to pieces-of-me.com! Don’t you love made-up words? But it has been a year since I dusted off this website which I had opened in 2014 thinking I would use it to tell kid and gardening stories. I wrote This is Me, and just kept writing.

Inspiration

In the background, I was being inspired by Jen Sincero‘s book You’re a Bad Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life. It was therein that I found the permission I somehow thought I needed to do things I love, like write.

Then, I moved on to Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule and that turned into a 30-day experiment in blogging every day in June. See #30daysofGrowth. In six months, I went from “I feel inspired to tell some stories” to “I’m going to push myself way out of my comfort zone.”

Second Half

At the end of the summer, I focused on getting published on other blogs, which helped me connect to a lot of new readers and find more quality blogs for my own reading enjoyment.

I had the following three articles published on three other blogs:

Don’t Push Your Embarrassment Down: Embrace the Burn

Dear Mothers of Tween Girls, There’s So Much at Stake

Why We Need to Stop Hiding and Share the Beauty in our Brokenness

The year ended busy and less focused on my writing than I would have liked. That’s clearly an area to grow as this year begins.

2019

Personally, my 2019 has started off less than stellar. In fact, some friends and I are planning a new, New Year celebration for this weekend. While we needn’t “start over” every time life deals a bad hand, the point, as discussed in The Fresh Start Effect, is that a temporal landmark is helpful in changing one’s mindset. But it can be as simple as a walk around the block, but drinks with friends is fun!

As I move forward this year I’m hoping to post on a more consistent time table. I’ve plotted out ideas for each month this year to help keep me on track. I’m also planning on publishing on outside sites again, as that was a great way to interact with more people.

Hands down, the best part of this past year’s blogging adventure has been the emails or private messages from friends and strangers telling me how something I wrote personally touched them. That’s what it’s all about. Connecting with others and feeling a little less alone in our struggles and joys.

Bring it 2019, or new 2019!

Martin Luther King Jr. day has become very odd to me in recent years. People who rail against peaceful protests the other 364 days of the year suddenly quote the man who became the icon for peacefully protesting inequality.

On this 33rd year of this federal holiday, I’d like to just talk to the good white folk. I know, that’s a bit ironic too, but it’s because I don’t feel qualified to speak to people of color about racial inequality. I will gladly listen, though, and that’s what I want to say to those in positions of privilege. Listen!

Today is not a day to celebrate racial equality. Today is not a day to feel good about all we’ve “given” black folk the right to do. Today should be an uncomfortable day. While I am not the wokest person around (I’m not even sure that woke can be made an adjective, but I digress), let me be clear good white friends, we have not achieved MLK’s dream. We are not at the finish line. I think that is very clear these days, but I fear it needs to be said.

Moreover, we are in some of the most racially charged times of my life, at least. This is again, why I am so troubled by the disconnect I see with how we whites go about business the rest of the year and then pay lip service to this holiday celebrating a man of such radical ideals.

Here’s what I see is at least part of the problem. We still have these ingrained notations that we get to dictate what is equal “enough” for POC. We subconsciously thing we get to prescribe how they protest. We think they should be happy with what they have, i.e. what we’ve chosen to give up. And that’s not equality. That’s still supremacy, or at the very least paternalism. ….and it’s very uncomfortable to think that’s what we’re doing, but I think that introspection and sitting with these uncomfortable thoughts is more in line with the memory of MLK than just posting quotes on social media.

Personal trainers always remind us, we must get comfortable being uncomfortable. They say things like change only happens outside of your comfort zone. So, I’m encouraging my goodhearted white readers to not resist the uncomfortable truths that these tumultuous years have revealed.

We haven’t been listening when POC said, we’re not there yet. We haven’t seen their struggle. We have failed them. I know, I know we weren’t being malicious in our blindness, but now we know better. Thus, we can’t keep sitting back and quoting MLK’s words of love, patting POC on the head, and telling them to be thankful for what they have.

MLK’s legacy shouldn’t be one that makes us feel comfortable with “good enough.”

“I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.” – Dr. King

I’m a glass is half full kind of gal, or I try to be. So, I’m going to end on a positive, don’t you worry. See, I truly believe that these rough days are like cleaning out your closet. You know when you have pulled everything out to sort through the good, bad, and the outdated? Everything is out on the floor, and now your whole room is messy. You start questioning if you should have even begun, because it’s overwhelming and what was once a mess contained to the closet is now all over your floor and bed and there’s no going back.

I think/hope that’s what’s going on in our country. We hid away this awful history in our country. When a piece of it fell out, we kicked it back in the closet and hoped it would go away, but then boom, that ugly orange outfit that we never should have bought and tried to stuff in the top shelf came tumbling out. We’re going to have to go through this shit and determine what needs to be discarded and what “sparks joy.”

Let’s take today to realize we’re going to have to face this mess and get rid of some shit. Let’s take today to realize it’s not going to get better if we aren’t prepared to get a little uncomfortable and have uncomfortable conversations and write uncomfortable blogs and listen to things POC have to say that we don’t want to hear.!

Here are some words from the man of the day, which I cling to these days.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” -Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech.

In these racially charged days, I find comfort in many of the sentiments Dr. King articulated during his Dec. 10, 1964 acceptance speech. The above is most profound to me as I try to assure myself that we are simply in a time when right is temporarily defeated.

The full speech may be seen here: https://youtu.be/5r98tT0j1a0

As long as there are resistors to inequality, evil is not triumphant and we are merely temporarily defeated.

As long as some still believe in Dr. King’s dream, evil is not triumphant.

As long as some are willing to cross over and listen to the other side, right is just temporarily defeated.

As long as some are willing to examine themselves and consider others’ experiences valid, evil has not won.

As long as some recognize equality as superior to maintaining their privileged status, evil has not won.

As long as when we know better, we do better (as Maya Angelou taught). 

This may be a night “darker than a thousand midnights,” but evil is not yet triumphant.

“This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future.” – Dr. King

We are not there. We never were, and we failed people of color when some of us imagined we were.

I still believe that we can learn and understand and do better.  

Reading suggestions for those who are willing to get uncomfortable:

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/mlk-more-radical-than-we-remember

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

New Year Fresh Start

Here are some articles about the fresh start of the New Year from blogs that I enjoy reading:

New Year, Same You?: In praise of positive choices

“A new year is a great time to make changes, make resolutions, set intentions, etc., but don’t let it be a time when you beat yourself up for all you’re not yet doing, forgetting about all the positive choices you’ve made (or are currently making). ” – Dani DiPirro @positivelypresent

New Year, New Me

“If you make a step toward your goal every single day, eventually you will get there, so don’t  wait until next year. Do it now.”   – The Nerdy Lion

January Goals: The Happiness Project

“Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down consistently?” – Jubilee Meyer

2 Magic Words I use Year Round – instead of Resolutions

“[B]eginning again with something new—having succeeded at last month’s goal—filled my self-worth cup in ways that a forgotten list of resolutions at the start of each year never could.” – Catherine Monkman

30 Days of Doable Change

“Lose all the weight. Never procrastinate again. Overhaul your life. Whew! Those are some ambitious goals (you’ll probably drop by February). Instead, why not crush 30 smaller self-improvement to-dos to feel kick-ass for the rest of 2019?” – TheGreatest.com

New Year, New Mindset, New Results

My world-traveling friend, Jen Byer shares “5 Ways to change our Mindset and bring more GENTLENESS  into the New Year”

Time to Dance

“I’ll not go into 2019 focused on want, or lack or what is “wrong.” But, instead, engaged with life, now.” – Jeremiah Stephen

New Year Fresh Start
starting line on a race track

Previously published here.

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.

“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Life certainly can feel like it’s all just happening to us, though, can’t it? The washing machine breaks the night before your in-laws visit. You receive a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one. Your husband asks for a divorce. The baby has colic.

Living an intentional life and trying to be your best self doesn’t mean life won’t happen to us. It means we refuse to throw in the towel to the whims of fate.

There’s something about the beginning of a new school or calendar year that feels like someone has hit the reset button.

While there’s no barrier to starting a project on Thursday, it feels better to start on Monday. “First of the _____” feels like the time to make changes. There’s even some science to back this up.

According to research published in Psychology Science, people were more motivated to begin a new goal on a “temporal landmark.” Such events help the brain to distinguish between past actions and new intentions.

Makes sense, right? The researchers dubbed it the “fresh start effect.”

None of that may be news to you. Even if you didn’t know there was research out there, you likely knew that you start new things on Mondays or New Year’s Day.

Here’s the exciting part.

In one study, some participants were told to begin their goal on “the first day of spring,” March 20th. The other group was told simply to start on Thursday, March 20th. Framing the same start date as the first day of something, in this case a season, had a significant impact.

This is great news for those of us who choose to live purposefully, rejecting the lie that happenstances divest us of control over our lives. We don’t have to wait till Jan. 1st to start over and do better.

There are new beginnings all around us if we frame them as such.

There are fiscal quarters and moon cycles. Every week has a Monday.

Every day has a day break!

agriculture bloom blossom clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What separates us from those who believe the “greatest lie” is not that we are immune to hardships, frustrations, or set backs. It’s that we know that whether we face a life altering blow or a daily inconvenience, there will be another fresh start.

As surely as the tides rise and fall, day will break, revealing a “first day of.” For every inhale, there is an exhale. For every end, there is a beginning.

At day break, we who warrior on get up and put one foot in front of the other. If we falter when the starting pistol fires, we find another starting line.

What may appear to be fate taking control can be a new beginning if you make it thus. Keep finding fresh starts and the world’s greatest lie will be another’s to believe.

New Year Fresh Start

The hustle and bustle of the holidays swept me away, keeping me feeling too busy to write, but moreover, too drained to be inspired.

I’ve felt like I was in a riptide being pulled out to sea since Halloween. That’s when my family’s activities go from 0 to 60 overnight. There are extra events at school. My son and I have birthdays during the holiday months, and every activity they are involved in has a performance or two in December. Oh, and I had the grand idea to sign my daughter up for a run club at the beginning of December. Who does that? Oh well, it didn’t work out anyhow.

But here we are in January. The fresh start month! Next week, the children will be back in school, and things will return to the normal level of crazy and clutter. That is if I get Christmas put away by then!

I’m truly excited, though, to get back to blogging on a more regular basis. I spent a good portion of yesterday mapping out where I want to go with the blog in 2019.

blog planner 2019
I made my very own, custom blog planner!

Because, look in 2018, I just started writing. I jumped on this site, which I started four years prior and quickly abandoned, and started writing what was on my heart. I had nothing but a desire to write and a motto to “Get Shit Done” in 2018.

GSDBecca2018

Yes, 2018 was the year of GSD Becca. I did take this blog from nothing to something. Not huge, but something, and I’m proud of that. I also got some debit and other personal matters under control and continued in my fitness journey (although with some bumps and changes, but that’s for another post).

There were failures. Some shit did not get done. I had a goal of organizing one room in my house per month. I don’t even have 12 rooms in my house, so I should have had months to spare. Alas, I organized one cabinet in my kitchen last January, and last month, I tackled my son’s room out of sheer necessity. He’s a 12-year-old boy. Let’s just say I don’t get awards for deciding that had to be done. A pig would have agreed…just not a 12-year-old boy, but I digress.

2019, however, is not going to be about GSDing. Not that I don’t want to tackle a second kitchen cabinet this year or grow the blog. It’s just that in reflecting on 2018, I realize that I threw a lot of stuff at the wall to see what would stick. A lot of my “failures” were things that didn’t stick. Some because I didn’t put enough work into it. Some because it didn’t feel authentic. Some because I decided those things weren’t a priority right now.

I’ve been working on my “GSD”-like motto for 2019. This morning Julie Stenberg, life coach who did this vlog for us last year, asked on FaceBook what your word for 2019 will be. I thought, ugh, I don’t know! Day 3 and I’m too busy tripping over Christmas storage boxes to think about that. But I did! I thought about it on my way to the gym and while I was at the gym, and I think I have it.

I had an idea before this morning, mind you. The idea was this vague concept of just not throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck. I thought about the word authentic. Because I feel like some of my trials and tribulations of last year resulted in trying to get shit done that wasn’t authentic to me. One mutual friend responded to Julie’s question with the word efficient. I thought, that’s good. That conjured up thoughts of putting my efforts into the truly important, which then made me think prioritize. But there was something wrong about those, and they were what was wrong with my version of “GSDing” last year. That was that they smacked of busyness and constant striving.

See, one thing I’m coming away from 2018 with is this: I want to work on self-improvement, while being content. I’m not sure I’ve ever been content. Whether I was working hard or slacking off, I’ve had this nagging undercurrent of ‘not-enoughness.’

I kept thinking, I want to focus on being content. I want to focus on working on the things I did successfully and meaningfully last year. I want to focus on that second kitchen cabinet, i.e. areas of improvement. I want to focus on what matters to me, and that’s when I noticed a word that was popping up a lot. Focus.

2019, I will be focusing. It’s a fresh start. I have learned so much in 2018 on what worked and didn’t work on my blog. I want to focus on doing more of those things that worked, but personally, I want to focus on accepting what isn’t a half-bad life that I am living.

I don’t know if you are into setting intentions or resolutions. Personally, I hate the later term, but love intentions and goals, even if it is just semantics. If you are, I’d love for you to share your intentions in the comments or how you are approaching the fresh start of 2019.

Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving turkey

My family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving this past week with one small exception. I decided that I would bake with the children. Now, normally I’d gladly blame the resulting mayhem on my children, because what’s childhood without a good dose of mother guilt thrown in to build character? But no, the problem was that I don’t bake. I don’t like baking, and I’m not good at baking.

I like to cook. Now, for those of you who neither cook nor bake, you may not realize that there is a difference. Well, let me assure you there is. Some people are good at both, but some of us prefer one or the other. I’m a cooking gal.

If I have time and energy, I enjoy cooking a nice soup or casserole or sauce or saute. Anything on top of the stove is fine by me. It’s that damned oven that poses problems. Actually, that’s not true, I can bake meat in an oven just fine.

I think the problem with me and baking is the precision and measurements of it. I much prefer to throw spices together and give it a taste and adjust as needed. That’s cooking! It’s sort of the fun Uncle of the food preparation world, while baking is the nun at your boarding school with the ruler to check the length of your skirt.

But MY mother and her mother were those women who did both, cooking and baking. Of course, Grandma did both; there was not a lot of other options for getting food cooked back in her day. In fact, my grandmother was renown in the small community in Missouri where she raised my mother and her siblings for being an excellent cook and baker. Among her most popular dishes were chicken and dumplings and her pies.

Everyone loved my grandmother’s pies. My mother made lovely pies, and always from scratch, but no one could ever quite master Grandma’s pie crusts. The recipe was no secret. We all baked with her and watched her, but she just knew how much flour and how to roll the dough just right. She just knew….I don’t know what she knew, but she knew it! She knew how to make perfect pie crusts.

I had no illusions that my kids and I would make perfect pie crusts. I simply wanted to give them that experience which was as common to me growing up as it is now foreign to my children born to a baking-deficient mother.

So, I have my ingredients and one child is interested and helping and we cobble together two crusts and put them in the oven to partially bake. We move on to making the fillings. The plan was to make a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie. However, the pumpkin filling ended up filling two pies.

No problem, because my son has now decided he wants in on the pie-baking action. After all, this is a rare sight in this house. My son is far more enthusiastic about rolling out the dough than my daughter. So, while I had quickly convinced my daughter to hand over the rolling pin to me the first time she started getting dough stuck to the table, my son was not so easily displaced from his job.

Now, I did realize at some point that I was being a control freak. Further, I was cognizant of the fact that it would be a more Norman Rockwell experience if I’d stop telling the boy how wrong he was doing it or sighing so loudly when I had to peel the dough off the table AGAIN to restart. But that knowledge just added to my anxiety and growing feelings of maternal inadequacies.

Then, it hit me. I had been telling the children all morning how my grandmother made pies almost every day. How there were always pies in her house, and she always made them perfectly.

Of course she was good at it, she did it every day! A cousin reminded me on my FaceBook post complaining about our pie-making endeavor, that Grandma would say practice makes perfect and a little less mess every time.

It’s like those memes where there’s a picture of how a finished project turned out on Pinterest vs. how it turned out in “real life.” Of course, our first attempts don’t look like the pretty ones that someone who has perfected the project posts!

Pinterest "nailed it" meme

That top cake is not someone’s first attempt at baking a cake!

Look, I have no inclination to become any better at making pies than I currently am, but what I’m taking away from this incident is that I’m going to stop expecting to be good at things I rarely do. Moreover, I need to stop comparing my “practices” to someone else’s “perfects.”

Social media is full of everyone’s best efforts. Their 126th selfie looks divine and you’ll never see all the hideousness that came before! I’m not knocking the fact that we all do that on social media. I’m just knocking myself a little upside the head with the reminder that life is not a string of perfected projects or sultry selfies or perfect pie crusts. Life is the messy behind the cameras part that you can’t compare to social media depictions of it.

You can’t compare your normal, every-day messy attempts at life to those perfected portrayals on social media or to the memories of pies perfected over a life time.

So, live your full-messy, not Facebook-worthy life! Post your wins, but embrace the rest of it too, because there’s a lot of good stuff to be had in the mess and imperfection.

Pie making mess

Our pie-making mess!

 

 

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