Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why You Should Stop Reading Blogs


      How many times have we all heard the old adage "Comparison is the thief of joy"?  Yet, here we are. On the internet. Reading blogs, scanning Pinterest, joining facebook groups. We look for ways to make things better, to improve. We read about a nice lady who just creates these effortlessly (to us) beautiful murals, or pieces of furniture, or has DIY ideas and execution beyond what we had imagined. Yet, she's just like us! Simple, sweet, down to earth. She's not high on her own power. We can be just. like. her. Right?


     I mean,  maybe we can sew and staple and paint and caulk and clean and plant and teach and do all the things she has done. Maybe. But so what? Because in a minute we are going on to the next blog and the next amazingly talented lady. We want to be just like her, too. Maybe not exactly. Maybe she has a nose ring and we would never. Or maybe she has no nose ring and we would never, ever remove our nose ring! But we want to be the exact same perfect amount of clever and creative and amazing. Then, what do we do? 

     We hop right over to the next blog and the next woman we want to be just like. 

     The thing is, friends, none of the amazing women we admire are all of this. Yet we expect ourselves to be all of it. We just want to be calm and soothing with the vision and eye and talent of Marion, with the DIY expertise of Sarah and we want to build a duplex and our own furniture with a Kreg Jig like Ana and take photos and tell stories just like Tamara and be well-rounded and loving and have a heart like Ilene. Plus, we want to bake/garden/have a talk show like Martha (except we'll do it even better!) and we're going to be cowgirls who homeschool while shooting amateur photography and cooking for our television show while rejuvenating an old abandoned building to turn it into God-knows-what with a deli like Ree.(whew!) And of course we'll do it while scouring craigslist for Portals to Downton Abbey while being as witty, down-to-earth, and stunningly graceful as Victoria. Right? Right?

     (None of these women are all of these things.)

     I haven't even mentioned how we're going to do it all in our pristine mansions while eating a healthy diet, exercising a lot without ever putting strain on our perfect bodies, smelling great and having the perfect hair teeth and skin. And guess what else!?!?


     On our professional looking blog we coded ourselves. 

     How insane is this? 

     Lucky for me, I'm not anywhere close to perfect. You don't have to stop reading my blog for fear of comparing yourself to me. But old me? Me in my twenties? Me in my twenties thought all I needed was a nice house and a new car and this many dollars and guess what? My life would be perfect and I would never feel stress again!

     We keep telling ourselves lies we don't even realize are lies. 

   Parts of our house are always a mess. Because we are us and we have five children and two dogs and we are enjoying ourselves and enjoying each other. Our priorities are: Watching Downton Abbey, napping, healthy debate, and doing dishes. In that order. If we don't do the dishes now, they will still be there in the morning and so what? 

     Every project I start gets anywhere from 2% to 90% complete and then, eh, I'm done. I have lots of these ideas so great you just could not begin to believe... and I don't always get them to look anything like I had envisioned. I can't cut triangles. How many points will all of this deduct from my final score?

     At the end of my life will I wish I had caulked just one more window? Will I long to scour the shower? I'm not saying we should stop growing or striving to be better versions of ourselves. I'm merely suggesting we remind ourselves who we are. We can't be all the things. 

     I challenge you today to be yourself. Whoever that may be. Let me know how it goes! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's Talk About Venezuela

     Venezuela is going through a crisis right now. There are problems:

  • There are shortages of things like toilet paper, chicken, milk, Harina Pan, a corn flour, which is THE staple in Venezuela, cooking oil and pretty much anything imported.  Since they have to rely heavily on imports, it is a huge problem. 
  • The government controls the media. Newspapers and television stations which refused to align with the government were shut down. They not only control the political rhetoric, they control how much of which music radio stations may play. Just this week they took away the cameras and equipment of CNN at gunpoint. They just thought they were being robbed, at first. Since then, CNN has been told they are going to be removed from the air in Venezuela if they do not 'rectify' their coverage. Update: CNN has now been told they can stay, with the threat of being kicked out again. 
  • The government is controls the internet. They have used this control to block access to websites people use to get news the government doesn't want them to see. They even blocked twitter so people could not use it to get out news. They cut the internet to a town where the protests are huge. 
  • The government has threatened to stop the delivery of gasoline to areas where protests are happening. They have done this in one city already. 
  • The government announced today that if you are involved in the peaceful protests called "Marchas" (Marches) your passport will be suspended for five years. 
  • Jan 22, 2003 the government enacted an exchange control. This means the citizens are not allowed to exchange their currency for foreign currency. It's been in effect now for 11 years. Imagine if you need to import goods to run your little business, or even your family, and you are not allowed to do so because you can not get the currency you need. 
  • The crime rate is higher than most of us can understand. In this country of nearly 30 million people there were nearly 28,000 murders last year. That's a little over one murder per 1100 people. Per Year. People are so used to being robbed at gunpoint that they hardly seem phased by it. 
  • Inflation is a beast. It was 56% last year. It's difficult to get a grip on this reality. 
  • Medications are scarce. So scarce that President Maduro took to twitter recently to announce he had secured enough medication to last approximately four months.  
     This is where I realize I could do a ton more bullet points and still not even hit all the crucial areas. It is so difficult to understand the how and why, and so simple at the same time. 

     Don't think it could not happen to us. I believe it could happen anywhere. Pray for Venezuela. It's going to take some kind of miracle to get them out of this mess and back on track. It is economy, safety, and a government which can't control it. They are trying, but they are trying with a heavy hand and oppression. In my opinion, it's not the best way to motivate good people. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

How I Tamed The Laundry Beast


Which part of laundry do you hate the most? 
  • sorting 
  • washing
  • drying
  • sorting (again)
  • folding
  • hanging
  • putting away
     I think most of us would agree the actual washing and drying is the easy part. Sure, we all have our own beliefs about how much of which washing agents to use. Some soften in the washer and some in the dryer. Some of us wash nearly every load in cold water and some use hot and warm water frequently. Most of us agree, though, that laundry is a time-suck of a chore we wish we could avoid completely. I've had discussions throughout my life where I have touted the merits of disposable clothing. Which mother hasn't secretly wished she could just toss those soccer socks in the trash and produce new ones? 

     A few years ago I changed the whole way I do laundry. I declared the laundry chute off limits except for towels. Each of the kids got two hampers. These go in their room. That's ten hampers for the kids! My husband and I share two hampers. Each pair of hampers works simply; one is for light clothes, the other for dark clothes. When a hamper is full, it gets brought to the laundry room and I wash it. I haven't had to sort clothes in years. And it has been life changing, I promise you. Not only do I not have to sit and sort clothes before and after washing them, but I never have to hold up an item and ask "Whose is this?" I don't have a basket full of stuff nobody will claim. Clothes aren't going to the wrong rooms. 

     It's been a sweet, sweet thing. I kick myself for not knowing this would be a better way to do things years sooner. When you know better, you do better.  How do you deal with laundry at your house? Enlighten me further, please. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Filling In The Holes

     I follow a lot of blogs on facebook. I do it mainly for them, because they want followers. There are a handful of blogs I actually allow to show in my facebook feed. Those are the blogs I want to make sure I do not miss. They are people who create something I find beautiful every time. Every single one of these women fills a hole in my heart I did not even know existed. 

     It could be the way Ilene makes me feel as if we've been the best of friends since third grade.

      Or, it could be the way every single one of Tamara's photos touches my heart. Also, read her "How I Met Your Father" story. The girl can convey anything. 

     My friend Carolyn and her mixture of sweet and sassy is always fun. She's like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. 

     Then there is Sarah, who can do anything. She has both great ideas and execution.  

     Marion can move mountains in her home. She even has her own paint (and more) line now! 

     If you want to read a blog where you laugh the whole time and totally relate you can't miss Victoria

     Katbiggie, also. She started this, which is very close to my own feelings. 

     There are sometimes blogs I did not get to know well, but still get on the facebook feeds because they touch me somehow. I wait and see what they do. Yesterday, one of the wait and see bloggers, Franchesca, wrote this. And if you know me at all, you know it spoke to my heart. Deeply. What else she did, though, was even more magical. She linked to this piece Ann wrote. It's the best thing I have read in a long, long time. There were tears. Then, through a cracking voice, I read some of it to my husband. I'll give some of it to you, but really, go read the whole thing.

We married wrong.
Don’t buy what anybody else is selling:  Everyone always marry wrong.
Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.
Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet again and introduce each other to love.

     I'm not even saying this is the best part.  It's a part.

     I've been a little melancholy lately. Some people would blame the dark days of winter, or the bitter cold, or the epic amount of snow we have had, but I am not convinced it has anything to do with winter weather. I think it's more to do with migraines and low thyroid and just needing some quiet time. I grew up an only child. Maybe it has something to do with the need for solitude? My mom had five siblings and she has always needed her time alone. My grandmother is the same. Maybe it's built into our DNA, the need to be undisturbed. I need to be able to sit and not have anyone bump the table, bed, or chair. With five kids, a husband, and two little dogs sometimes just sitting undisturbed is an impossible thing. 

     Another thing I have been lately is grateful. I feel like prayers have been heard and answered. God always sends me answers in two. Two people at the door, two people on the phone... it's pairs of people he sends to show me he has not forsaken me. He has not forsaken my family. He's heard me and said everything is going to be alright. Not perfect or easy, no.  

     One thing has happened by way more than twos this year. The people I have found online, who I can really relate to? They have come pouring in at warp speed. People who I feel belong in my life. Bloggers who still blog to tell a story. Whether it's about a DIY project they did or something magical they did for their children, or a trip they took, they have shared their heart and I have enjoyed it. 

     Thank you for being great, thanks for caring. Thanks for reading. If you leave a comment, a million thanks. Like Erin said on twitter once: "Whenever I have zero comments and then I get one... I kind of want to make that first commenter cupcakes or something."