Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy! Holiday Harmony...

I remember every time before major special family days,  I would talk to my Mom and ask if there was anything I could bring for the upcoming holiday. Invariably, she would answer, "The only thing I need is for you to help me  make  everyone happy, just for this one day. Let's just pray everyone has a good time and gets along." 
How many of you have had everyone in your family be happy all at the same time? 
That is like asking everyone to be aligned to the planets in the same moment singing "We are the World!"....
Yet, that was my task for each and every family gathering and all the drama in between gatherings. Please do not misunderstand. 
I do not begrudge my Mom....I do not begrudge my brothers or their families, but at the end of the day, 
the individual happiness of every single person in my family is way too heavy of a burden for any one person to handle. 
I am only one. I am frail..I am weak. There is no way I could carry the entire happiness for my whole family on my very human and flawed shoulders. And I do not believe my Mom meant to burden me unjustly. She was hoping for the impossible...the dream of every Mom, that all of her children, for one brief moment, would appreciate each other and celebrate the joy that was within them....Family. The Norman Rockwell picture had to stay on the mantle!

I have struggled with this task many a night, many a day. What can I do to help my family, for that one moment in time, to be singularly and communally, Happy?
Well, after all of these years, and more family gatherings than I care to remember, I have had to admit defeat.
There is no way I can control the inner workings of the marital dynamics of my brothers, or their children, or my children, their work situations, etc., etc. The game ended when my precious mother passed away. One of her dearest friends told me Mom's biggest worry was that I would take on all the burdens of the family. (Ha! Wonder what gave her that idea?) This wise woman said, "Sally, it is time you let go and live your life. It is what your mother has always wanted." We both cried in each other's arms and I left the conversation with much to think about. How could I change a lifetime of facilitating happiness in a raucous and rowdy family of Irish-Native American descent? How could I reframe what I believed was my role? I really believed I had some single handed authority to peace-make, to rectify, to heal...I needed a complete overhaul!!

It was the beginning of the end of my idealistic belief I that I had anything to do with controlling others and their own happiness. A painful journey to wellness and healing always begins with the first step....admitting the problem.
From there, I began a wonderful journey of self discovery and growth I never knew existed. With each passing day, I learned over and over again how little control I had over life in general and my loved ones in particular. The more I experienced life, the more I recognized I am much more authentic without my Super Woman cape!
And that is not such a bad thing....
To admit that I am not in so freeing, so healthy. I don't have to feel guilty or responsible if my family members are unhappy, even with me! One of my dearest friends told me recently, "You didn't cause this....and you are not responsible.Love them by letting it go." Woo Hoo!
I am certainly prone to slip back into my old routine of trying to "help" ,trying to problem solve in the middle of the night, but I am so so much better than I was! Progress is a beautiful thing.

And here it is, Thanksgiving... I am so very grateful that the only person's happiness I am responsible for is my own, and that frees me to reach out and love on others with no ulterior motive other than Love. When I finally released the worry, anxiety, and yes, somehow, the responsibility I carried for family members and even friends who were unhappy or disgruntled, it was like the skies parted and I could hear the angels sing! My mom is probably in heaven looking down at me and saying, "Sweet Girl, I never meant for you to take this so seriously!" But, I did and I have for most of my life. 

Interestingly enough, I would like to say I am also grateful for this unrequested burden. Sometimes life offers us gifts and opportunities dressed up as burdens and heartaches. I believe this is what happened with me. Unknowingly, my mother was helping to hone the gifts of mediating and problem solving, of actively listening for the melody and not necessarily the words spoken to understand what others were saying. She taught me how to make people feel welcome and loved. She unknowingly led me to my chosen field of first, teaching, and then counseling. Thanks, Mom.
Because of your unselfish belief that family was everything and being together and having a wonderful time was essential, you helped mold me. My heart overflows and I am grateful.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I think Your Snoring's Sexy...(Said No One Ever!)

"Don't take it personally, Babe, but you snore like a freight train!" My husband looked at me with a little guilt and a feeble attempt to hide his smile.
 "What? You are kidding me! .....I absolutely do NOT snore!"
 His smirk turned into a laugh, "Yeah, you really really do! ...So much so, that I wear ear plugs. And you know my hearing isn't all that great anyway.'
He reached over to give me a hug, like he thought it was kinda cute. I was not amused. In fact, I was mortified. How can someone like me, who is so careful to not wake him up when I get into bed, who tiptoes to the restroom at night so I don't disturb anyone....sound like a freight train? And how can a freight train not wake up the person making all the noise?? Maybe HE'S the one snoring and he just doesn't realize it.
Images of my mom and dad snoring at night and all of the adult children and grandchildren cracking up laughing at the noise flashed before my eyes. I have become my mother!
Holy Cow! This is not going to happen! Surely there is something I can do. Something I can take? But who in the world gives professional advice about snoring?
I immediately grabbed my laptop and began searching for information. At least online, I am anonymous and don't have to technically admit my hidden shame.
Interesting....Have you ever googled "snoring"? Unbelievable amount of hits...and a multitude of guaranteed remedies  There are all kinds of headgear I could wear, pills I could take, a mouthguard, and the list goes on. None of them sounded like something I wanted to incorporate into my life. So...I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for a checkup, I just thought I would add the snoring question to my list of doctor patient discussions.
Until then, every evening I would become very anxious right before bedtime. A little performance anxiety began to creep into my psyche. What can I do differently to keep from doing this embarrassingly loud snoring thing? I already slept on my side, I try and read til Steve goes to sleep so I wont' wake him when I go to bed. What else could I do?  Now, I was having trouble going to sleep because I didn't want to snore, but I was also curious to hear what I sounded like. It couldn't possibly be as loud as Darlin said. So, I'm in the bed...trying to be as still as I could be to hear my raucous
snoring.....Nothing. I turned on the other comfortable, began to relax and finally drifted off to sleep. Within 30 minutes, Darlin was nudging me and saying,"Babe, you're snoring! Please turn over." I sat up. I looked around.....apologized to Darlin for waking him, and tried going back to sleep. I truly never heard a thing!!
The next day I went to the doctor and I was going through my list of concerns when I finally blurted out the last one on the list. She smiled and said that is a very common complaint. You can be snoring for many reasons....One of which is sinus related. (That made sense to me because I had a sinus infection) another reason is obesity or being overweight, even 15-20 lbs can cause snoring. (Well, dang it, I'm working as hard as I can to lose weight...what more can I possibly do!) and then there are other more complex issues that cause snoring. Not the greatest news I wanted to hear, but at least it gave me something to work on.....losing weight, and clearing up my sinus infection.
Neither of which would be an overnight fix. And just in case, I'm buying some of those nasal strips at the store.

Big Night for me.....I took my sinus medicine early, and opened the individual package for one of the strips. First of all they are packaged like bandaids and you have to remove the paper from the adhesive. The adhesive is very strong and does not want to let go, even when it is supposed to! Maybe it was because I was trying to be super cool about having it on before Darlin came to bed so it wouldn't be obvious, but I would unstick from one hand and it would become attached to the other hand.....not a calming exercise! Finally I get it attached to my nose but it kept popping off because I had forgotten and put night cream on my face before. Anyway, I held it on with my hand til I fell asleep. In the morning, I found it on the floor by the bed. Im sure it was most helpful!
I asked Darlin if he slept alright and while he was saying he slept fine, he avoided my eyes. I asked if he thought the strips worked, he replied You might want to try 2 at a time.

 So, the snoring dilemma continues. I keep trying different products, while Darlin keeps wearing his earplugs and kissing me goodnight. Guess it could be always be worse....

And since He DID marry me for better or worse....that includes snoring!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weighing In on Weighing In

I have spent most of my female life obsessing over my body mass. I am too fat, too out of shape, too flat, too hippy, too, too.....fill in the blank______. My friends get together for fun times and it never fails, all of us , or at least one of us, lament our bodily flaws. Here we are....supposedly getting together to celebrate our friendship....share our lives....and off we go, on some mindless tangent about our potential obesity and loss of value to literally everyone in the universe. I will be honest...I wish I had a dime for every negative comment I have shared about my body butt, my boobs, my arms, and on and on. I would be well on my way to a luxurious retirement! The larger issue (even larger than my flabby arms) is Why? And even larger (than my bodacious bottom) is, What can I do to transform my whining into some form of disciplined action?

I will now confess to you, I am much better at discussing the issue of my weight than I am of finding and implementing a structured plan. I really DO think, after my girlfriends and I have gone on and on about our glaring flaws, I FEEL better (Misery loves company!)! We encourage each other profusely..."No way, you are NOT fat!" "You look amazing! I'm the one who needs to lose!" "I know, It is just so-o-o Hard to get on the diet wagon!" "Let's order another bowl of queso, a margarita, and make a plan.."

I have a funny feeling, my friends and I are not the Lone Rangerettes on the Lonesome Trail. I have talked to enough women everywhere to know this issue is of epic proportions. Since most of us are sailing in this Queen Size Cruise Ship, what are we going to do?  I could go on and on about how we arrived at this level of weight obsession, but it would take too long, I would have to credit too many journals, quote too many doctors, psychologists, etc.  Can you say, (yawn) Boring? Anyway...the more important question is.. Where do we go from here? What can we do to bring balance and
harmony to our lives and live in peace with who we are and the bodily frame in which we reside? Whew! Not too much to ask....Ha!

Actually, this is not an, "I Have Arrived.." article, but more of a journal entry of where I am and and the path I have decided to take in order to love myself and the  physical "home" I was given. My mission is to bring love and joy to those around me and in order to have the synergy and motivation, I must take care of Me..Tenderly. Rolls of fat and miles of cellulite are not really the issue. What I THINK of myself and my body is of much more value. From that starting point, the plan becomes then an essential instruction manual to help reach this level of acceptance.

Really nothing new here to those of you who have already arrived and love your body like your own mother does. But to someone like me, who has had to really work to embrace the body God gave her, this is a difficult First Step. A few weeks ago, I was undressing for the evening....the bath water was had been a long day...and I happened to glance at myself nude. My first thought was self loathing and disgust....then I took a moment to see what it was that was so terrible about Me. A painful few minutes passed by and I began to laugh uncontrollably.

I will not shock you with the gory details, but my laughter turned to tears, and I ended up soaking in my tub and with an ironclad resolve, formulated my Game Change plan. A lot of my friends and family have joined Weight Watchers. It is in my gene code to be suspicious of any organized group that takes your $$ while you do the work of taking off the pounds, but there IS something healthy and different about Weight Watchers. First of all, I think they get the whole dilemma women and really, men too, face as to what our society dictates and what is actually healthy about our ideal weight. I think it is wonderful how the group meetings address the whole person while providing the tools to help us put the good stuff into our bodies. The concepts and principles of WW are real and doable.

Now enough about WW that I promise, was unsolicited! Back to making my plan and working that plan. As a Vintage (aka Old) Goddess, I realized it was time I not only began putting healthy but tasty morsels into my body, but it was past time I began moving this mass I lived in as well. So, the following Monday, (Mondays are all the best for starting anything new), I went to a local fitness place and tried out their Body Pump class.Yes, I did find a place near the back and probably was a couple (couple?) steps behind the class, but I DID it! Now I'm not going to lie, I was ever so grateful I could make it to my car afterwards. It was the first fitness class I had attended in years. While I was praying I would survive it about halfway through, I was also exhilarated. It wasn't a glamorous blast off, but it was MY beginning. I was on my way. I joined the gym the next week and just taking that action gave me energy!

The following days brought challenges I had not considered. Getting out of bed was a pain, bending down was a chore, Ahhh-was this really my plan? Maybe I should just accept the fact I am old and this is the way it is going to be. And then, Of course, the other side of my brain shouted back, "Heck no! You do have the power to tone your body! You deserve to be the best you can be. You Are worthy!"  I am fortunate I listened to the loudest voice and continued on to more classes. I also became diligent in putting more healthy food into my body than not. It is truly a process, but I have begun and that is good. Thank you Crystal Light Pure Lemonade and Propel Sugar Free Energy drink (Grape) for your help as well!

Since the middle of July when I actually began this journal entry, I have lost 12 lbs. I have lost inches, feel better, sleep better, and overall am on the path to embracing the best me I can be. I refused to listen to the message that I was too old to look good, and have truly fallen in love with the adrenaline rush of working out and loving it. I now attend Body Pump and Yoga Flow classes 5xs a week. Woo Hoo! And in sticking to my eating and working out plan,  I think I have also learned a few things about embracing the body God gave me, cause I Was Born This Way! (I couldn't resist..:)

1.) First of all, I was created in the image of my Creator and that is Enough. While this is not a profound statement, it goes against what I see in fashion magazines and ads targeting women. I am not slamming them at all. I love reading about fashion and seeing what amazingly creative designers have done with colors and trends. I will always love fashion and enjoy following it in many ways. To me, it is a part of being the best I can be. But, sometimes, if we feel "less than", those glamorous images can do more damage than good. However, the next time you flip through your favorite fashion mag, look closely at the models and ads,  I think you will find that none of them are perfect either. Thank goodness!! I think what those images do to my self image depends on how I feel about Me, instead of how they look.  So embrace yourself and celebrate You, wherever you may be and whatever chapter you may be on your journey.

2.) I had to take a brutally honest look at where I was in my head about change and commit commit commit to taking Baby Steps to a better Me....Whatever that looks like....You do not have to do what I did. If you walk every day, then commit yourself to walking. If you like a cheat day in the middle of the week, then embrace the cheat day and get back in the saddle the next. Just Know You! Be You! Commit to You! It is empowering and even unselfish.....When you feel empowered and healthy, you have much more energy to serve others--your family, your community, your passions.

3.) Practice Grace every day...This to me, is the hardest challenge. To look at myself in the mirror and actually like what I see takes Grace. To forgive myself when I buy a  package of potato chips and eat half the bag on the way home, is difficult to practice. To remind myself that Every Day is a New Day is both challenging and redeeming. So, while I don't always practice forgiveness to myself, it is always in the back of my mind. If you have ever experienced undeserved forgiveness, you know the humbling and freeing feeling of pure joy that can lift you higher than you ever imagined. So practice Grace on yourself, give yourself a big hug, and rise up to greet the day. Surprisingly, when you exhibit this kind of Grace, it spills over into your relationships with those around you. And Grace, my friends, is the ultimate gift.
So while I don't profess to be an expert on healthy living, I am on my way. I challenge you to join me to becoming all You were created to be, all You dream of being, and to embrace the journey as we embrace each other.

Let's Do This!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Personal World....Of Word Games

If you don't know me, it is important to tell you something very personal and intimate about my private life. I have a passion that is more than a hobby, more than a career, and because of my deep love for this entity, it involves almost every aspect of my life.
 Here it is: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS....I am passionately  immersed in the World of Words from every aspect.

I love to write Words, read Words, think about Words, sing Words, correct Words, wisely choose Words (well, not always), and play with Words. By "playing", I mean, mention any kind of Word Game---and I am so in! 

Lucky for me, the iPad has plenty to offer in the way of games to a Wordaholic like me and this summer was a Word Lover's Playground. Thought I would share some of my favorites with you, cause by the looks of the numbers buying these word game apps, I am not alone in my not so secret love for Word Games.

                             WORDS WITH FRIENDS

The first word game on my iPad was love at first sight. It is called Words With Friends. I cannot tell you the number of nights I have stayed up and played this game! You do have to play it with someone else, but the game is not timed, so you are able to play when you have a few minutes to plan your word strategy and then, wait for your opponent to respond. Games can take anywhere from a day to several weeks depending on how diligent you and your partner are about it. You also can have several games going simultaneously.  I love the fact it is not timed and I don't have to feel guilty about making my opponent wait for me because they may be busy as well. I also love the challenge of playing "old school Scrabble" in a new format. The game is quite challenging and very enjoyable.You can download the WWF app on your iPhone, iPad, and most any other smart phone or device. This way, the game goes with you wherever you may roam...:)
 WWFs has been around a while and, although I still enjoy playing it with my friends...I have lost some of the initial thrill I had when I first began this "new world" Scrabble game. However, it still delights me when playing others who take their "word challenges" seriously.

                            W.O.R.D. W.E.L.D.E.R.

Word Welder became my next sleep deprived obsession. To me, this game has more layers to uncover than WWF. The object is to move letters to form words. As the words are formed, those letters are removed and the entire board slides down....forming new words or not. It gets tricky because you are only given so many "swaps" to form a certain number of words for each level, while a certain number of words are required in order to go on. There are brick letters that can't be swapped, and in advanced levels, letters that are frozen, blocking words from being formed around them. This game can be played with someone else or just by yourself. I choose playing by it my "alone" time! WW is very very challenging and super fun to play. I highly recommend checking it out. 

                                WHIRLY WORD

This summer, a friend suggested a new word game. Of course, I am always open to new word challenges so I jumped at the chance to try something new. This game is called Whirly Word. I know... I don't know who makes these names up! Anyway, don't hold the name against the game....go head and try it anyway! Whirly Word is a very fun and delightful word challenge. You can play this game by yourself, but sometimes I have to ask others to help me find the word! It is almost like a word search. You have a word wheel with 6 letters in random order. Your challenge is to make words from the letters on the wheel. If you get stuck, you spin the wheel to see if the new random order gives you more clues. The answers are in alphabetical order (which is a nice hint) and the number of letters in each word are listed. The challenge in Whirly Word is your ability to find every word on each board. If you get stuck, you can go ahead to the next board, but you do lose points for each blank word left on the board. Go ahead and give this game a Whirl (Ha...couldn't resist!)

                           SKY WORDS

Sky Words is a lot like Scrabble, but with a twist. You increase your points by stacking letters on top of each other to make new words. So far, I have found this a challenge and I'm not really proficient yet. It takes a minute to get the hang of this, but so far, I have found it fun to try...:)
I'm thinking this could be a game for traveling on a plane for sure! You can play with opponents online or find local challengers. Of course, I still like to only play by myself. But, who knows? I may be ready to take some new challengers on in the future!


I have just recently found this game and am still learning my way around it. The object is to make words with letters that are connected on the board. Once again, you have the option to play online with other opponents or just play alone. It is also untimed. The only thing I do not like about it is the constant updates on my score popping up along with the invitation to play online. I had to keep closing the windows to get back to the game.

So, welcome to my World of Word Games. Hope you too find time to enjoy reading, writing, and playing with words in this wonderful World of Words as well! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Daddy's Girl

When my dad died suddenly at 64 years of age, I was devastated. I felt as though someone had taken a steel-toed boot and kicked me in the gut. That particular evening, we were entertaining a single young man from our church for dinner. We did not know him well and were wanting to make him feel welcome in our church and in our home. The phone rang and Darlin answered as I continued to visit with our guest. Out of shock, he turned to me and flatly told me my dad had just passed away. I ran from the table and fell into a crumpled heap on the floor. This could not be real...could not be real. How could he have been taken so suddenly? I had talked to him just a few hours before!

My world as I knew it would never be the same. This Daddy's girl was lost, and there was no time to find her bearings.

 The sadness and grief I felt permeated every part of my life. My days were on autopilot. For weeks I literally couldn't attend church because every song , every scripture, every piece of the worship experience reminded me of him. You see, my dad was a Baptist minister and even the tiniest part of my faith experience was introduced to me through my parents, especially through my dad. The weeks following his death, I experienced a new kind of emotion in worship... I became very angry at God.

I wanted no part of Him....or His rituals. I wanted my Daddy back. End of story.

Curtis Simpson was not the kind of person people shied away from because he was a minister. He had a way about him that drew people to him without much effort. I have thought many times about this charismatic part of him and I think it was simply because he exhibited a genuine interest and concern for everyone he met. Many times he would go shopping with mom and I, and when we were ready to leave, we would find him talking to people he had never seen, laughing with young parents and their children. He loved children! I always enjoyed the fact I could go anywhere with him and before we left, there would  magically be people whose stories became known simply because my dad cared to know them. What a gift!

My dad was not a great orator. I am sure there were members who looked forward to his sermons for their midmorning nap. This used to worry me until I realized that my dad's best sermons were found in his daily life.  He was the first person there to comfort a family when someone passed away, the one families called when there was trouble of any kind, and he was also the person they wanted with them when there was great joy in their home. Daddy shared his compassion openly and freely with those he knew.

If I could name his favorite pastime, besides his faith and his family, it would be sports of any kind, but especially football. He was quite an athlete in his day and this passion continued to burn throughout his lifetime. He rarely missed a football game wherever we lived. Friday nights were almost as sacred as Sundays to him. As the grandkids began playing, he was their biggest fan. His love for them spilled out in every cheer and encouraging word. Even though he never attended, my dad was a huge Baylor Bear fan. The biggest thrill for him was getting to attend any Baylor athletic event. I smile thinking of this year and how thrilled he would have been to celebrate the victories Baylor has enjoyed.

Finally, my father loved, absolutely loved to laugh. I don't mean a chuckle, a giggle, a snicker....I am talking about genuine full bodied, raucous laughter. He would begin laughing and because his laugh was so loud and uninhibited, the room would resound with everyone  echoing his own kind of full on joy. I remember a particular Thanksgiving the family all decided to go to a movie. It was a comedy and by the time we arrived, the place was packed. As we watched the big screen, my dad (who was not an avid movie-goer) didn't catch the punchline until a few seconds after everyone else. The crowd laughter would die down and then my dad would erupt with his huge belly laugh....the crowd began laughing at my dad's laughter and it became a constant rhythm of my dad laughing and the audience laughing and so on. I don't think I have ever laughed so much at a movie in my life!

As the weeks and months passed following my Dad's death, I began to see glimpses of healing through my grief. It felt like sunshine peeking through a dark cloud. I saw my Dad's gentleness demonstrated through his grandchildren's personalities. I saw compassion in his son's lives....I saw his joy when we would gather for holidays and watch football. I felt his laughter in the oddest moments. Crumbs of hope, but healing never comes in full pieces. And one day, randomly, a Daddy thought tugged at my heart, and all that I could feel was a warm smile tugging at the corners of my mouth.

So on this Father's Day weekend, I remember my Dad, Darlin's Dad, my brothers, brother in laws, uncles, and cousins, who are wonderful Dads. I think of my son in law with his passion and commitment to be a good father, my own son and what an extraordinary dad he will be, and finally, Darlin' and the powerful example he is of a loving father. And I can't help it... I feel such gratitude. The faith I grew up with and the faith I have now are largely in part due to the models of the wonderful fathers the Heavenly Father wove into the tapestry of my life. Thank you, Daddy....Thank you Father.

Happy Belated Father's Day

Friday, April 27, 2012

Crazy Little Game Called Golf...

There is a tradition in our household that frames most of our gatherings. It is revered by all (well, almost), and enjoyed by most. This sacred ritual seems rather simple at first glance. The name is only one syllable....only one simple holy ball is used (at a time)....and only one person has to play. But, the rest is rather complicated....Tee Times, Equipment, Where to play, etc. consume most of our get together conversations. Because it is so beloved, GOLF has to be discussed, demonstrated (in our living room), laughed about, stories exchanged, practiced (in our living room),....and even played on the Wii (in our living room)!
Well, we now have a grandson. He is 2 years old.....So his parents and his grand dad decided it was time to introduce him to this tiny one word, sacred game....
Darlin and I went to #1 Daughter's house to spend the night and experience with them the Little Man's introduction to this Crazy Little Game called, GOLF.
 Dad-Dad (Jax's name for Darlin') was so excited...Tee time was made, no nap was taken....This was going to be interesting!

Jax first examined the carts.....several of them, before he landed in the right one.

Then Dad-Dad began trying to guide him throughout the course...and we all know who was guiding whom!

The Little Man watched Mommy and Dad Dad as long as he could....

Until he had to join them....
He has a better view holding Mommy's hand....
Using Dad-Dad's new toy to be a good caddy.......Even looking through the wrong end is fun!
There was so much to learn and to explore....
Little Man is a natural at keeping his eye on the ball...

And he understood the importance of becoming familiar with the course...ALL of it..:)

Instructing Dad-Dad on his approach...

Sometimes a guy just needs to sit down and think about it... 
Walking/running the course is part of the game....

Looks like Dad-Dad will have a new golf partner before too long!

The Family Tradition of the Crazy Little Game called Golf  goes on forever and the games will never end.....
Me? I'd rather be shopping!