Monday, April 30, 2012

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

I Coulda spent Friday night cleaning up from the busyness/business of last week, but instead I chose to do something a little more fun. I loaded up my family, a few friends and we watched the characters of childhood dreams float gracefully through the sky.
"Daniel teaching EJ to Fly"

Shoulda spent Saturday carving down the mountains of laundry in my basement. However, due to the beautiful weather I decided there was nothing wrong with mountains and my time would be better spent elsewhere... The yard did get watered & carved down and the sun melted away the stress of the prior week. 

"No..this isn't us...but you get the gist!
I Woulda worked on cleaning up the hairballs, dust bunnies and clutter mounts invading the Jenkins' Ranch. But the idea of warm bread, garlic dipping sauce, cool salad, hot homemade lasagna and family made the invaders seem like guests to the party. Although uninvited, they were unimposing and unimpressive in the light of the laughter and conversation.

I Coulda done a lot of stuff. I Shoulda done even more, and I Woulda done it all but as the saying goes.....
When the Coulda, Shoulda and Woulda's are what you miss out on, Life is what you get to enjoy!


Friday, April 20, 2012

One Gray Hair....

I found a gray hair...
in my eyebrow...
SJ says this is were it starts &
it is all downhill from this point...
he would know...

I think this grey hair is a sign. A sign the stress I store neatly down deep has finally started seeping to the surface and an impending explosion is very near. Now if you are a friend or family member you are probably safe. If you are a customer you may want to take cover....
My family and friends are the ones who already deal with my stressed out state.  My customers, the ones who push me to this stressed out, wild-eyed (with a grey hair) point, reap none of the blissful insanity to which they drive me. This stinks!! I am so nice to the people that push me to the edge and so short-fused with the ones I love. Yes, I know my customers help pay my bills & this does play into the control I display. However, how many of those customers are going to be around when I am old and GRAYER to wipe whatever needs wiping????  Yeah...the room falls silent...
So as of today I think this dynamic is going to have to change.  So far only one of the troublemakers has gotten an ear full and this was after four e-mails and five phone calls in less than an hour. FYI....THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO FIX THE ISSUE YOU ARE HAVING IN AN HOUR... If you are one of those people who harass and harass to get a situation handled because you have heard the ugly rumor 'the squeaky wheel gets the grease' let me clarify something, you may get grease but it may come from the bottom of my tire when I chase you down...' Please don't be this person....
Okay, so back to the lone gray, eyebrow hair... I am not fond of the idea that my hair is deciding to verbalize my frustrations! What right does my hair have to out me? If I can manage to keep the stress under control and minimize the number of times I blow a clients ears back, why should my hair 'turn' on me???  I guess maybe an unnamed child or husband could have been praying for something to get my attention...
Surely they wouldn't be this cruel....
***no customers were harmed in the making of this post...***

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Milk, Baseballs & Family

I was watching Peter Pan with my boys tonight and one of the Lost Boys asked Robin Williams, "What is your Happy thought Peter?" The adult Peter Panning couldn't remember... So I asked LJ, "What is your happy thought? He responds immediately with, "My Family." Then I asked EJ, "What is your happy thought? And he responds, "Chocolate Milk and Baseballs...."
Such honest and innocent answers. 
Although I don't miss being a child, I do miss the simplicity and magic that comes with childhood. The smallest things are completely infatuating and the most complicated things are reduced to, 'Is it worth it the consequence?'
I love my kids and I am so excited to watch them grow but at the same time I am terrified of the day that the magic fades and life becomes a balancing act. At this point in their life they see only good and believe in all the magical parts of life which seem to fade in adulthood.
I have had a rough work, at home, but most importantly in my head...
Thank goodness my boys only see the good. Mommy screams, cries, pouts...they tell me it will be okay... When I fail to see how it will be okay, they hug me, love me, kiss me and make me giggle. Then I remember that all the 'stuff' that is weighing so heavily on my heart is just 'stuff' and the little arms that hold me are all that matter. When I fail to see the magic in the world around me, I can feel it in their arms and kisses and hear it in their sweet, sweet words.  I love my boys, the innocence that engulfs them, the forgiveness that radiates from them and love that pours from them...
No wonder the Bible says in Matthew 18-3:
“Truly I tell you, unless you change 
and become like little children, 
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Children don't over think things or don't give more weight to a situation than it deserves. They simply believe that everything will be okay...
And it is when we choose to Believe.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

We have it all WRONG!!!

5:15 am -(alarm sounds) Grr...I get up, smack it for being annoying and go back to sleep for 8 mins.
5:23 am -(beep...beep) I gently nudge SJ and politely ask him to take care of this annoyance because my smack obviously wasn't hard enough. (SJ refutes the politeness)
The One Eyed Screamer
5:31 am -(beep...beep) I get up, FURIOUS that the one eyed screamer has the audacity to wake me, AGAIN. I call it the one eyed screamer because it has a laser, yes, a freakin' laser (...Austin Powers reference) that shoots the time and temperature onto the ceiling so you don't even have to sit-up to see the time...laziness at its finest.
5:39 am -(B..E..E..P, B..E..E..P) I nudge SJ and ask him to, "Get THAT" (the kindness has left me).
5:46 am -At this point I know you are asking, "Why not just get up?" Well...I just don't wanna...
5:54 am -Kick SJ because I am completely annoyed that he can get up, slap the one eyed screamer and go on to get another 15 minutes of REM sleep before I kick him again...
6:02 am - CRAP!! I'm going to be late! Why didn't the alarm wake me up....

Although this does accurately describe most mornings, Monday-Friday, it hasn't always been this way. Once upon a time we were getting up at 4:45 am (no slapping or kicking involved) running a few miles and enjoying a quiet cup of coffee before the madness began. Now, it seems, the madness begins an hour before we get out of bed.

As maddening as that little ritual is, it is not nearly as maddening as the next 30 minutes.

Lately, I have noticed the morning routine is severely out of balance... Despite what you may think, this has nothing to do with whether or not SJ is pulling his weight in the morning. Honestly as many times as I kick him it's a wonder he can even walk to the bathroom. No, this disparity comes from how little he has to do to get ready every morning. The man crawls out the bed looking like Cousin Itt from the Addams Family and 20 minutes later he looks like he is running for office. IT IS ANNOYING! 20 minutes after I get out of bed I still look like a frizzy headed mess with sheet creases and drool marks on my face. This isn't fair! I have no doubt that with an additional 30-45 minutes of 'attention' I can match his pretty and raise him one. But the additional effort and time requirement is what gets me. I am starting to think as animals, we humans, have the male/female dynamic all wrong and I have evidence!

One of my favorite customers is the Briarwood Ranch Safari off Exit 12 in Morristown. I LOVE calling on them and not just because they buy billboards. But I also get to feed a Lemur, pet a zebra, but not the female, she's grumpy (probably can't get the male to turn off the rooster in the morning) and see some of the coolest animals that you would never expect to see in East Tennessee. It was while I was there, last Thursday, that I had the epiphany* that certain parts of the male/female dynamic were off.
One of my subjects...
After the billboard business was handled, I started looking around for interesting animals and a good picture. At Briarwood this never takes long, especially, when the Peacocks are around. On this particular day, the two males had roosted on the roof of the barn and although the lighting was all wrong for an amazing color picture, it was perfect for a picture that showed their kingly crowns. After pretending I was a photographer and snapping several pictures I noticed the Peahen standing at the base of the barn pecking at her toes while fully ignoring the beautiful displays that have me mesmerized.  We have all seen the breathtaking colors of the Peacocks when they ruffle their tail feathers trying to catch the eye of the nearest female. But the Peahens...have you seen those? Just in case you haven't seen one or don't remember, let me remind you.  Peahens look like someone lopped off the head of a beautiful Peacock and stuck it on the body of a long tailed turkey...aka...they ain't all that. But the males in all their glory, strut around putting on these amazing displays while TRYING to get the attention of the long tailed turkey with the pretty face...
For the record, I can do long tailed turkey....WITH NO EFFORT!
This little show I witness tells me Nature intends the males to be the ones that worry and preen, not the females!
How wonderful would it be if we ladies could stand around clucking like a bunch of hens, picking our toes (maybe not with our teeth...yuck) while all the pretty boys were preening and strutting to get our attention?

I know, I know.....stop whining!

My husband loves me no matter what I look like and this is confirmed every morning when I finally crawl out of bed and look in the mirror. But the outside world of bosses, co-workers, clients and potential clients would not care for me looking like the long tailed turkey. Therefore the morning ritual of plucking, preening, applying, smoothing and poofing shall continue....

I am just saying the animals have it right on this one!! The males should have to do the work of getting all gussied up while the females sit picking their toes and the prettiest male.


***Mr. Ron Nease, the owner of Briarwood Ranch Safari, has donated a family pass (2 adults, 2 kids) for me to give away to one of my readers...YAY! Leave a comment below and I will randomly draw a winner on Friday, April 13th so one of you can visit this amazing park and see how the humans have it all wrong!***
Another of my 'subjects' at Briarwood

*FYI...this epiphany was probably brought on by a facial breakout that would make a 16 year old cringe.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

L..E..N..T... Find out what it means to me...

Over the last 41 one days I have had the following conversation multiple times:

RP: Would you like a cup of coffee?
Me: No, thanks. 
RP (weird look): But you love coffee...
Me: Yep, but I gave it up for Lent
RP: Oh...Okay...wait... Aren't you Baptist?
Me: Yes. 
RP: I didn't think Baptists practiced Lent?
Me: Well, most don't but I started observing Lent in College and really enjoy the experience.
RP (confused look): ...ookaay.

(RP=Random Person)

What is Lent?

Lent is a period of prayer, pentance, repentance and self denial which runs from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday. 

Why do I choose to practice Lent when it is not a practice observed by the denomination I am a part of? 

I choose to observe Lent because I think it is a very personal way to reflect on my own Faith and how easy it is to let the day to day fuzz distract me from my personal walk with Christ. The self denial part of Lent causes me just enough discomfort to constantly remind me of sacrifice. My sacrifice maybe small in contrast to the BIG picture, but I try to choose something that is big enough in my life to make me take notice. So, No I am not the 'right' denomination but, this minor issue aside, I truly see the value in denying myself a small pleasure in order to help me focus on a much bigger Sacrifice. 

So what did I choose to sacrifice this year? Coffee sweet, sweet coffee....

A little background will probably help you understand why this is a big deal. I love coffee. I truly LOVE coffee and for me it isn't just for breakfast, although 40oz before noon isn't a stretch. I enjoy coffee with breakfast, then on the way to work and then when I am at work how better to survive a 2-3 hour meeting? Coffee does the trick every time.  Then the 3pm droops rear their ugly head and a coffee beverage fixes the problem every time. And that is just Monday - Friday, on Saturday and Sunday I should probably just walk around with an IV drip and save myself the dirty mugs. Heck I even like a little coffee poured on a hot biscuit with a little butter and brown sugar. (don't knock it until you have tried it) 
So to quit, cold turkey, 41 days ago (not that I am counting) was a BIG deal, not in the big picture, but in my picture it was huge. 
In the beginning, I was most concerned with the side effects of quitting, because obviously I wasn't an occasional user, so how bad were the first few days going to be? Was I going to walk around half asleep and half blind with a withdrawal headache? Oh, what was I thinking. But wait! I am not giving up caffeine SO surely I can offset these side effects, Right? Wrong, I probably could have if I liked any other caffeinated drink but the sad, sad truth is I drink water and coffee, and basically in equal portions. So headaches were bearable and the fog has lifted sssslllooowwwlllyyy. But the side effect that shocked me most wasn't' physical, it was mental. The cravings were awe inspiring and are STILL awe inspiring. The times I just thought about, dreamed about and even on occasion almost picked up and drank an abandoned cup of coffee truly shocked me.  Weird Right? Well sort of but not really. I chose to give up something that I would miss for this reason. Something that, in this season of Lent, would make enough of impression on me that my minor version of sacrifice would serve it's purpose well. AND boy did I hit the nail on the head! With each craving...each internal thought or external question I am reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that was made for me. 
I am not expected or asked to participate in Lent but I can honestly tell you each time I do my faith is strengthened. Not through external influence but rather a internal dialogue that goes something like this:
WOW! That coffee smells SO good....Oh just one cup on Sundays. Sundays are supposed to be free days! no. no. no. 46 days...! Emily 46 days...! You can live without the shakes and dragon breath for 46 days! Lord please give me the strength to make this small, PUNY, sacrifice for 46 days!! Oh! And while I am talking to you please remember that LJ needs your strength today and EJ has been struggling with a temper and SJ has a really important meeting today and OH! Yeah please forgive me for the childish tantrum I had this morning, I really need you to help me with my temper...I don't know where EJ gets it....
See the flow? It starts with an Earthly craving that is followed with a plea for strength and then the craving is redirected in a Heavenly way. 
Lent isn't about denomination. It is about allowing God to use a small part of our day to day life to transform our mind and hearts in a very big way.  

Who would have thought coffee could transform my prayer life?!?!


For the record...On Saturday Morning I will be drinking and GREATLY enjoying the biggest cup of coffee you have ever seen!!!