My 6-Word Memoir Title on Coach Daddy – It’s All About Perspective

Eli, over at Coach Daddy Blog, invited me to participate in his monthly 6-word story challenge.  This time, he asked for a 6-word memoir title.  Wow.  Only six words to sum up the colossal mess that is my life in a way where someone would actually want to read it?  It took several days to narrow it down, but this is what I finally chose:

My Life: Socks For Christmas… Again

(If you’re curious what others submitted, click here to read the post… but I hope you finish reading here before curiosity takes you away!)  

I chose this title because how it’s taken is all a matter of perspective.

I think we’ve all received a gift that we’re less-than-excited about.  We put on a smile and deliver our best fake grateful “thank you” in hopes of sparing the gifter’s feelings.  Before he was trained to do this, my mom has told the story of how my brother threw a fit because he got clothes for Christmas.  To a boy of three or four, it must have been insulting!

Sometimes I feel disappointed when I look at the lowlights of 2015… this year, after eighteen years, I finally accepted that I failed and my marriage was beyond repair; I had to say goodbye to my dog and one of my cats; I’ve chased ghosts (illness) with my younger son… soon, they will confirm if it’s what they think, but there’s no solace in the known or unknown; and the first half of the year was anchored in such darkness, waking up each day was a chore.

That’s my year in a nutshell. Seriously 2015, is that the best you could do?   It’s like opening up a beautifully wrapped shirt box and finding a six-pack of crew socks.

Or is it?

My favorite fuzzy socks!
My favorite fuzzy socks!

I received the socks in the above photo from my younger son for Christmas last year.  I had commented on how adorable they were, and he listened.  Now, I do realize I’m past the age of being able to pull off the silly sock look, but thankfully, I’ve also reached the age where I really don’t care.  (Yep, it’s only a matter of time before I “dress up” in my robe and slippers before heading to Walmart.)

Maybe my life is like gift socks…  maybe it’s not so bad if viewed from a different perspective. I’ll look at 2015  again:  after eighteen years, I realized that change won’t happen if the person doesn’t see the need… no matter how obvious it is to me; I loved my dog for seventeen years, and my cat for nearly fifteen years- I had to say goodbye to them, but they are no longer in pain; if the doctors have pinpointed my son’s illness, it can be managed with medications and he can start to find a new normal… if it’s not what they think, then they have enough to know there is something going on and they have ruled out another thing it isn’t; and during my extended time of darkness, online and offline friends lit my way with prayers and words of encouragement (thank you to everyone for your kindness!)

It’s the same life, same year, but whether I feel despair or hope hinges on how my mind focuses on the facts.  For the first half of the year, I felt despair.  It was scary.  I want my thoughts to gravitate toward hope.

When I look back on my life, each day, week and month might appear to be the ‘same old stuff’ on the surface, but I want to see more than that.  I want to look at the gift of my life and exclaim, “Yes!  I got socks for Christmas – Again!  Isn’t that great?!”

I have an affinity for "crazy" socks, it seems
I have an affinity for “crazy” socks, it seems

So, what do you think?  Am I as crazy as my socks? :)

If Only I Could “Netflix” My Life

There's only one way to discover where the path leads... follow it!
There’s only one way to discover where the path leads… follow it!

Last night I found myself in an unusual position:  it was 7pm and neither kid was watching the TV.  I decided to nab the opportunity to watch another episode of a series I started a couple weeks ago on Netflix.   Apparently, this has the same effect as when I pick up the phone to call a friend, or sit down to balance the checkbook- a few minutes into it, my younger son plopped down on the couch next to me.

“What are you watching?”

“An episode of a TV show I found on Netflix.”

After a few moments of silence.  “Is that guy his dad?”

“No, they didn’t meet until just now.”

“Why did  he call him Father then?”

“Because he’s a priest and that’s what people call priests.”  I glanced over at him.  “Did you want to watch one of your shows?”

“No, I want to see what happens.”

So we watched the show, but not in silence.  He had lots and lots of questions.  I had some answers, but not all.  See, I had the benefit of seeing the 19 episodes prior, so I knew the history.  History is good, but it doesn’t necessarily give an obvious clue as to the future.

It struck me that this is a lot like life.  It would be be nice if life were like Netflix, where I could watch the “good” parts over and over, rate the “bad” parts with one star and remove them from my watch list, and skip ahead when I just can’t wait to see what happens next.

But life isn’t like that.  Life is “old school” – I only get to see it real time, as it happens.  It seems like the difficulties and struggles linger while the peaceful times are as brief as a single breath…maybe two, if I’m lucky. I know where I’ve been, I know where I’m at, but I have no idea what happens next.  I have no choice but to meet one sunrise after another and take it in as it unfolds.  I may not like all the “parts,” but with God’s grace, surely I can frame my view so I see each moment as something to cherish.

Have a beautiful weekend!

The “More” Train

My train of thought:  this is a pig race... it's similar to a rat race, which is just like a ride on the "more" train.
My train of thought: this is a pig race… it’s similar to a rat race, which feels just like a ride on the “more” train.

So I opened up my laptop Sunday afternoon to finally work on some fiction, only to discover something else I needed to say first.   For days I’ve been trying to root out the cause of my  anxiety.  I traced it to several things, but all paths seem to lead me back to the moment I bought my ticket and climbed aboard the “more” train.


Let me explain a little.  Not too much because this is a blog post, not a full autobiography (you can thank me later for skipping details!)  Several years ago, I took my seat on the “more” train.  I stretched my legs and settled in for what I expected would be a luxurious ride.  I convinced myself that a bigger house would solve my problems.  I believed a new location would bring contentment.  I naively poured all my hope for a future into that move.

Sitting on the other side of the experience, I laugh at my naivety.  The “more” train turned out to be a one-way trip to a miserable place where more is never enough.  But I learned something… well, a few somethings, really:  more house doesn’t make old problems go away, it just provides ample space for them to grow; a change of location doesn’t mean a clean slate; and more stuff doesn’t fill the emptiness inside someone.

The “more” train takes you right to the “more” monster.  It is insatiable.  The more you feed it, the more it wants.  And it never gets full.  EVER!  The bigger house and the land wasn’t enough.  New wants kept sneaking onto a never-ending list.  Then came complaints about not having money (well, duh- it’s expensive to feed the “more” monster.)

I’m finding it’s also expensive to get out of the “more” monster’s clutches.  For the first time in thirteen years, I have credit card debt and it’s increasing every month.  I struggle with stress over whether I can escape without being completely buried in debt.  I pray for peace in this regard, although I have no one to blame but myself.

I have faith that one day, I will be permitted to transfer to a different “more” train- the one that leads to more time with family and friends, more compassion, more kindness, more memories that I actually want to close my eyes and look back on.  I want less tangible and more intangible.  The currency of this “more” train is human interaction, not dollars.

I guess the point of this post is to urge anyone tempted by the lure of acquiring “more” stuff to don’t do it.  I can’t stress that enough- DON’T DO IT!  If you think that expensive handbag, the iPad, the Corvette, the new-latest-and-greatest-whatever will make your life better- it won’t.  Sorry, but it’s the truth.  Please, put your wallet away and spend some quiet time contemplating what’s missing inside.

Then, go visit a friend, or volunteer your time for a cause you care about, or just say “good morning” to a stranger and really mean it.

Have a beautiful Monday!  (I sincerely mean that :) )

Good Enough?

Time to sweep the driveway... again....
Time to sweep the driveway… again….

I swept the driveway earlier this week.  I’d been at it for over an hour, and frankly, was tired of seeing pine needles and leaves.  I looked behind me and noticed some stray leaves that I had missed.  I turned back around and continued sweeping, muttering, “it’s good enough.”

Good enough?  This is unlike me.  When did good enough become good enough?

My entire life, I’ve been an over-achiever.  If I earned an “A” in school, the percent mattered:  90% was barely skating by… almost a “B”.   I can’t remember what it is I needed to buy at Walmart even though I wandered the aisles hoping it would come to me, but I haven’t forgotten that nearly 20 years ago, I was a tenth of a percent away from graduating college Summa Cum Laude.  Magna Cum Laude wasn’t good enough.

I’ve been known to follow up after my kids do their chores because it wasn’t good enough.  I constantly wipe water spots from chrome faucets.  Daily, I wage war against the clutter threatening to overtake my one long counter top.  My plastic storage containers are nested neatly in the cabinet, in spite of the kids’ tendency to haphazardly toss them onto the shelf.

I wonder:  have I accepted that good enough should be embraced rather than shunned?   Maybe I’m finally seeing that perfection is an unattainable illusion.  Maybe I realize that time is a commodity and that “good enough” is an excellent savings plan.

Or, maybe I’m just tired.

Yes, I think this is it.  Many days getting out of bed is a milestone because I didn’t think I could do it.  I’m not so sure my “good enough” attitude is permanent, but if it gets me through the day, well, that’s good enough.


I’m still struggling with keeping up with things I need to do, so writing time is next to none (which frustrates me.)  Just thinking about what I have to do puts me into a state of inaction and procrastination (equally frustrating!)  In my bits  of “spare time” I’ve been slowly catching up on blog reading, though.  My apologies to Emilio – he provided a photo for me to write a story for… in September… and it still isn’t done.  I hope to have something on that soon… but I know better than to promise anything!

Moments Passed, Moments Noticed

Recently, I went for a walk in the evening to clear my head.  I emerged from my thoughts long enough to look up and notice the illumination of the clouds in the eastern sky.  I snapped this photo with my cell phone:

This got my attention!
This got my attention!

I walked a hilly cul-de-sac and upon heading east again, I looked up, anxious to see how the sunset light show had changed.  I thought maybe I would be blessed with an even more beautiful display.  I was surprised to find this:

Seven minutes later....
Seven minutes later….

In the span of seven minutes, the glow had disappeared.  The beautiful display obviously intended to be brief, and only for those who paused long enough to take notice.  Of course, this got me thinking (and dashed all hopes of clearing my head, haha.)

It made me wonder how many moments like this in life I miss because I’m wrapped up in the unimportant stuff that I allow to consume me… those worries that seem so large.  The funny thing is, these thoughts that occupy my mind are often things that no amount of obsessing over will resolve because the variables are completely out of my control.  I’m finally starting to learn that maybe, just maybe, being outside my head is a happier place :)

Sometimes taking notice of things around me takes a more humorous turn.  I’ve told the kids countless times not to leave their cups on the table.  Aaaand, their cups are always left on the table.  One day, within forty minutes of each other, I took the following photos:

Sure, there are three water dishes, but "forbidden" water tastes better
Sure, there are 3 water dishes, but “forbidden” water tastes better
Well if she gets "forbidden" water, I want it too!
Well if she gets “forbidden” water, I want it too!

That day, my younger son got home from school and refilled his water cup.  After he took a drink, I showed him the photos thinking maybe he would see why he shouldn’t leave his cup on the table.  He did turn a little green so I got all smug, thinking my point had been made and the table would now be cup-free.

Nope.  Cups are still left on the table; the only difference is, they each use 5 cups a day instead of 1. Oh, and they always leave fresh water in them for the cats- “because it’s cute.”  (Um, no it’s not…)

Sigh. I didn’t see that one coming.