Thursday, August 3, 2017

Believe them the first time.

The older I get, the more I believe the truth in Maya Angelou's words:

When someone shows you who they are, 
believe them the first time. 

I can recall situations in which I wish I had paid more attention to things said and done on previous occasions because it would have undoubtedly led to less shock and awe when things went down in a blaze of glory later.  When you notice people treating others a certain way, do not be surprised when they treat you the same way later.  I'm not sure why we expect things to be different.  I guess we all assume we're special or deserve better treatment.

A friend of mine was mistreated by her employer and left the company on negative terms.  Another friend of mine went to work for the same management team several years later and believed that things would be different.  Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the second friend found herself in the same situation as the first friend.  Had the second friend recognized the warning signs of a toxic work environment earlier on, perhaps she could have saved herself some heartache.

We must always remember that people will do what people will do, and sometimes things aren't as bad (or as good) as they seem.  I've been let down by people close to me and it hurts.  I've been taken off guard by actions and words and have tasted bitterness in situations.  I have fussed and fumed and stewed over wrongs committed and have, in the words of my 4 year old, threatened to "tear lives" over situations.  

But, (and this is a really big and important but), I also must remain painfully aware that I have a list of faults and failures like everyone else, and I want to extend the same amount grace I'd like to receive from others.  I want heaping amounts of grace from those I've failed, so I must swallow my hurt and pride sometimes and do my best to extend it to others.  It's not always easy, but it always, always, always ends up being the best way to deal with situations.

I don't want to be judged on every. single. time. I've failed someone with my words, decisions, and actions.  I can almost always justify my reasons (because no one likes to admit that they were just being despicable and sinful), but that doesn't meant they were good and right reasons at the moment--which means that, most likely, those who have failed and offended us probably had their justifiable reasons as well.

Doesn't make it good, doesn't make it right, but at least we're all in good company, right?      

I also don't want to live in a world of constant speculation and suspicion.  Everyone is not out to get me, and sometimes people just make stupid choices and do stupid things.  Very few of us have time to sit around and cook up ways to make others miserable.

Let's choose to swallow our righteousness and hurt feelings.  Let's choose to extend grace.  Let's choose to get off our high horses and get low and small in our humility.  Let's begin anew and do our best to treat others the way we want to be treated.

We cannot change the past, but we can work on the present and future. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

On being authentic and safe

This summer I have spent a good portion of my time on an unexpected kitchen repair and some of you have been following the progress of #sweetcampkitchen over on Instagram.  Our oven died and we found a replacement resulting in a kitchen overhaul.  Painting cabinets and brightening up the space and finally painting the mauve countertops with a kit.  For about 24 hours those countertops were smashingly beautiful.  They made the room look spectacular and one almost forgot about the mauve backsplash behind them.  I was so excited to add the final coat--an epoxy that would seal them and make them glisten and gleam.  I had spent about a month researching the best way to do this and I felt confident in our choices.

Until it didn't work.  

And we were left with a semi-sealed mess all over our countertops.  Hours and dollars right down the drain, and I was so upset.  This sounds ridiculous, but I had to think about how, and if, I even wanted to share this story.  I really didn't want to admit to the world I had failed and was back to square one again.  It hurt my feelings--especially when I'd spent a few days with my fabulous extended family who is all about the renovation and design process and their homes look like showstoppers.

My counters stopped the show alright--like a scratching halt to the music.  

It's not easy to share your most authentic self with the world these days, especially when (if we're being honest with ourselves) most of us use social media at times for applause.  Unfortunately, we live in this universe that is quick to judge and shame and share with a click and we often forget that real people with real struggles are living and breathing on the other side of their screens as well.  And this also prevents us from being our most authentic selves because it feels very unsafe.

However, when I peek into the world of others and they are willing to let us into their messes, I love them even more.  When they freely admit they don't have it all together (but are earnestly trying), it makes it so much easier for me to share my struggles as well.

This is another time of the year when I feel overwhelmed.  It's almost back to school and I never feel like I've used my summer as well as I wanted to (even though each one is always so great).  I start to think about the year ahead and my lessons and ideas and performances and wonder if they will be good enough.  I think about my own kids and all the things they have ahead of them and our calendar and the busy and the day in, day out struggle it can be for us to get it all done without looking and living like a bunch of savages and I start to get the shakes.  I start to feel badly about my clothes and hair and how my body keeps getting older each day.  I spend more time than I'd like to admit pondering my mission in life and what I actually might be good at while simultaneously sneaking in another episode of my latest Netflix find.  

But that's not the person I want you to see.  The problem is, I don't know how to be the opposite of that person, because that person doesn't exist.  And when I do run across those people who seem to have it all together, I recognize that they have problems and issues, too.

However, I know a lot of other people just like me who are just trying to keep it together on the regular.  Ordinary folks who just want to run away sometimes and not have to take care of anyone, be responsible, or have to make decisions for about 48 hours.  People who can't always keep their homes magazine-straight, have crumbs in their cars, and have to make choices between new shoes and ensuring having kids' snacks that they will actually eat because they must fall in the Yellow Food Category (nuggets, mac, fries, applesauce, etc).

Can't we just admit that most of us fall into the Regular category?  Can't we just call it what it is and accept that, despite our self-imposed feelings of excellence, we're all just a bunch of average folks in search of other average folks just like us?  Wouldn't community feel a whole lot better if we weren't trying so dang hard to impress the masses with our filtered and perfectly cropped lives?

I think so.  

And I'll be over here in my pajamas and coffee breath surrounded by toys and fort blankets and paint cans and dust if you want to sit next to me.

Monday, June 26, 2017


A few weeks ago, our oven died.

Trusty 7:01 was an elderly appliance and she baked her last cake on a sunny day in May.  She lived a long and happy life in her beautiful pink-countered kitchen and had lovely rolling numbers that allowed the world to remain at the same time forever.  Large as a car, she took up an impressive amount of space in the kitchen, but she cooked many a meal for the families in her care.

All was fine until it wasn't.   

The repair man told us it was impossible to fix her, and that it was time for a newer model.  Unfortunately, the expansiveness of her frame meant it wasn't as easy to find a replacement with the same width without spending a fortune.  When my husband called to tell me he had purchased an oven from Lowe's that would not fit the hole, I immediately knew I had a decision to make.  

Would I be a brat, or would I be awesome? 

Part of me really wanted to be a brat and tell him to take that oven right back to the store because it wasn't going to fit and it was going to be a nightmare to make it look acceptable.  I like things to look put together and having a 3-inch gap on either side of the oven was going to look awful and our struggling kitchen already had some decorative issues:

But, I also knew this was a prime opportunity to finally update our kitchen and bring in some character that is more reflective of our camp and family.  Also, our family has been blessed to live  in an awesome home on our sweet little camp.  It would be ridiculous to act like a big baby.

So, I decided to be awesome. 

To be continued. . . 


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