Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

Don’t believe this first pic. The rest all looked like my kids were about to go torch and pitchfork shopping. Hope these photos are more fun to see than they were to take!  😉

(post below)

 

I love it when I meet a parent who owns the reality that comes with raising kids. There’s the family life that we typically display on social media (image above). And then there’s every other minute of the day that we constantly attempt to keep tucked away along with the rest of the crazy we […]

via Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

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Moving the Dream of a Child from Impossible to Unlikely to Reality

 

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The photos in this post were taken by my daughter who is still in elementary school. She’s a spectacular soul with such talent.

My daughter sees magic in every corner of her world and recreates those details in her countless creations. Drawings, figurines, fairy gardens, and, most recently, photographs. She sits for hours as she takes pictures of animals, interesting interactions, scenery, and anything else that she deems to be beautiful or unique. Unfortunately she gives a rather wide berth to her perception of these terms, so we are literally left with hundreds or thousands (yes – thousands) of files to review at the end of her daily shoots. As a bonus she firmly believes that almost all of those pictures are portfolio quality images.

They are not, and, sadly for her, I am significantly less reticent about deleting tons of them. I am attempting to teach her to be more discerning about what is and isn’t true quality work, but I am also a very busy mom / wife / employee who has other crapola on her plate. Consequently my daughter has managed to significantly outpace my file cleanup efforts. My sincere apologies go out in advance to each of you as she will be using up all of the internet shortly if this pace continues.

2018-05-02 hummingbird1.jpgNevertheless she has managed to capture some beautiful images. Although she is still so young, her raw talent reveals itself with every new creation. She just has that something that can’t be taught or learned. It’s woven into her soul.

But I have a something, too. It’s called being her mother, and I worry. I’ve yet to meet an artist who said to me, “I got into art because I knew that it would be an easy way to pay the bills.” I don’t need my kids to become millionaires. (Now I’m not going to lie to you. It wouldn’t suck to have a millionaire kid, but that’s not in my wheelhouse of “mom to kid teaching skills” just yet.) My goal is for my children to live in a way that will keep them generally happy and financially sound.

So I am trying once more to teach my girl how to safely leverage off of the world of technology. I posted a couple of her new photos to her blog and am looking forward to seeing a collaborative blogging effort with another brilliant young friend of hers. My dream is for our children to be able to shine by becoming the people they clearly were meant to be and executing the talents that are inherently their own. Maybe blogging will help open doors for her at an earlier point in the process.

2018-05-02 hummingbird2I want to believe that her path will forever remain clear and that she will always find her way. I want to trust without question that her unusual and beautiful perceptions and creations will invite endless wonderful opportunities into her life. I pray that these are her realities and that my involvement is more of a kindness than a necessity. But just in case, it never hurts to get a head start, and there’s no sense in wasting good internet while it’s still around.  😉

***Photo credits and tons of love go to dragondaydream.com.  Never stop making the world more beautiful my talented darling. You belong among the wildflowers, but I’m so very thankful that you are here with me instead. I love you to the moon and back bunny rabbit.

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Unlikely

Since I Couldn’t Find the Right Hallmark Card for Valentine’s Day…

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I tried to find a card. Not that he likes getting cards anyway because he feels like they are a complete waste of paper. Are you swept up in the romance yet? We go through this card dance annually. The closest thing I could find was a “Happy Valentine’s Day Co-worker!” card.  I’m not even making that up. It was so bad that it almost made it back to good. Almost. I sincerely apologize for not taking a picture of it – an inexcusable blogging error.

Valentine’s Day just isn’t our bag baby. Never has been. Never will be. But he got me a card. I know this because I saw it hanging out on the counter in the kitchen… just lurking there… waiting for me to open it. He bought that card because he recognizes that I appreciate a display of effort. I wanted to return said display and thus tried to find a card for him. However I wanted one that conveyed how I honestly felt. A real card. A card that captured the essence of our relationship. A card that he would know could only be from me.

And the picture above is the end result. I even created that lovely magical heart-barfing emoji. Yes, once again, I have proven that I am a true artist. As a bonus. I am going to print it on used paper that already has been used on the other side or maybe a piece of old mail. That’s right folks. I am an artist AND an environmentalist in action as evidenced by my overt display of my commitment to his weird anti-paper wasting card platform. Best. Wife. Ever. Yeah baby!

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If it’s your gig, happy V Day. If not, please know that a little part of that heart-barfing emoji is meant for you, too.

Love always – Jo

***This dose of reality is dedicated to Cayce –  a quick-witted gem of a mama and fellow anti-V Day activist, K-Skillet – my momming partner in crime who will be luxuriating in a swanky romantic spa day strictly because she booked the damn thing herself, and my dear friend Laura – hopefully your man didn’t buy you a frickin’ bag of salt again (Not aromatherapy salt. Not bath salt to soothe her exhausted muscles and nerves. Salt.). You ladies help me to laugh more, cry less, and smile always. I love you darlings! To the moon and back.  😉

Another Weekend Morning

IMG_20171007_113023.jpgBefore 5am was able to an appearance on the clock this morning, I could hear the not so sweet sounds of one of the dogs barfing on the plush carpet of my bedroom floor next to me. It needs to be extra thick in order to be able to adequately absorb whatever may be hurled its way. Naturally I thought to myself, “Wait…is it Mother’s Day already?” But no. It was just another weekend morning.

So my husband and I jumped out of bed joyfully (as indicated by the way we were yelling at each other) to split up the tasks of collecting supplies to clean the cushy barf sponge and chasing the dog into the bathroom where she could (and did) upchuck a few more times on the tile. Thankfully we were able to wrap up the barf-fest and go back to bed for a few more hours.

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This is my kid, and this is how I felt after wrapping up round 1 of my morning.

When we awoke (again), my husband left to pick up our middle daughter who had spent the night at a friend’s house. We rarely allow our children to go to or have sleepovers. We have found that it’s typically just easier to let the kids play together at whomever’s house and then send them back same day while ending on a high note.

But this is one of our daughter’s dear friends, and she hadn’t seen her for months. We gladly made an exception when they invited our child to stay at their home. So when morning part 2 rolled around, my husband left to go pick her up from their home. I texted the other mom to see how it went, and she told me that they had a blast. Yay! The yay was short-lived when she added the text about how funny my kid was.

I love me some good funny anything, but I have learned that my daughter and I have significantly different opinions on what does and doesn’t belong in this category (which is pretty ridiculous because it takes almost nothing to entertain me). And if she was doing her version of funny, she was about to be in a doghouse of her own.

I was praying that I was wrong, but in case I wasn’t, I asked if burping was involved. And of coooourse it was.

Dammit.

It’s not that I go bazerk because my daughter burps sometimes. That action alone wouldn’t thrill me, but I wouldn’t totally flip out either. Let’s face it – she’s a kid. But my daughter doesn’t burp. That word is in no way adequate to capture what she does. If you have ever seen the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” – and if you haven’t, what the eff is that about because it’s an epic 80’s classic – just think of Booger. She a pretty version of that of that gnarly dude.

The even better news is that she worked overtime during the sleepover because she made it a point to show those parents her mad gross guy skillz while also attempting to teach their daughter how to do it, too. Yes. My kid. I’m so proud. It’s strange that they didn’t ask to schedule another sleepover right then and there.

“Hello Amazon. Could you possibly send that doghouse we thought we might be needing via rush delivery? Great!”

My kid found herself on ice as soon as she walked in the door. Tons of chores, no electronics, and the worst of all punishments – being forced to watch “Peppa Pig” with her little sister. Enjoy THAT.

Morning joy part 2 couldn’t depart fast enough. I needed morning part 3, so I could finally relax. I was certain that morning was tired of dishing out the crapola.

Silly silly me.

Few things say “keep the magic coming” like walking into your room to have the brilliant morning light reveal that the initial barf scrub session actually didn’t remove everything your pooch gifted to you pre-5am. Nothing disgusting to be found with that scenario. Especially not for someone who already has a serious aversion to germs and animal body action of any kind.

So it was back to the hands and knees again. Back to bringing in the towels and water. Back to getting out the Oxy Clean and Shout so my room could be flooded once more with those invigorating scents. Thank goodness for that because I just used the last of my Wet Dog Vomit in Your Carpet Plus Chemicals scented wax melts. They are so hard to find!

My sexy morning just wouldn’t quit.

I want to float carelessly over the stumbling blocks of life that I find, but instead I end up with a face full of barf towels. I need to laugh at the antics of my kids, but I am too wrapped up in the “oh no she di’n’t!” feeling I have instead. My dog would gladly let her gross action fly anywhere, but my daughter knows better. Nevertheless she saw her opportunity to misbehave and completely ran with it. And that genuinely bothers me.

It’s exhausting. The week has been insanely long, and I have a ton of actual work that I need to tackle. I just wanted to sleep in a little. More to the point, I needed to sleep in a little. And now I’m so steamed at everyone that it’s fogging up my whole brain. (Thus the diatribe here.) (And you’re welcome.)

I wanted to meditate to soothe my mind, but the words that kept circling my brain sounded like that old song “Fire Water Burn” by the Bloodhound Gang.

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!
We don’t need no water, let the mo$#&er burn!
Burn mo$#&er!

Errr so I thought maybe not right then for meditation. I went into OCD overdrive and tackled the least relevant task ever. I organized DVDs. I could see the ridiculous nature of the obsession as I ran through it, but it was the task I picked, and there would be no chance of calm until I was finished.

Have I unpacked my suitcase from earlier in the week? Nope. Is my office organized and are all papers filed? Don’t be silly. Are my DVDs separated into kid movies, holiday theme, grown up movies, empty cases with movie location known, and empty cases with movie location unknown?  You bet your sweet patootie they are.  I almost put each group in alphabetical order (as they always had been until my mini-human tornadoes wreaked organizational destruction on the cabinet), but I decided to save that task as further punishment for the belch queen. My part in that task is over, and I can move on to actual stuff that needs to be addressed.

I recognize that I’m not talking about the really big issues in life, but that doesn’t change the reality that it doesn’t take much to throw us off kilter. Or at least it doesn’t take much for that to happen to me.  I want to move through my life with perpetually uplifting spirituality, but that’s damn hard to do when you are up to your elbows and ears in reality.

I didn’t get anything taken care of that I wanted to do over the past few days, and I wasted even more time and energy this morning. I want to be flexible when life’s little collection of unplanned moments stretches me thin, but instead I often feel like I’m being pulled to the point of having my elastic snap into pieces. I want my feathers to dance a bit in the wind, but I feel like they blow away wildly.  I am left with my rear exposed and looking like my goose is about to be cooked.

It frustrates me.  And sometimes it makes me angry and sometimes it makes me sad. Today was a smorgasbord of emotions. If you wanted them, you could have easily found them amongst the available selections.

But then again, I did end up with highly organized and soon to be alphabetized DVDs. One section of carpet and multiple sections of tile are looking might clean at the moment. My daughter will be on work duty, but she had fun seeing a lovely little friend. And the dog hasn’t barfed again for several hours, so hopefully she’s okay now.

I think that I’m mostly alright now, too. I’m feeling calmer. The Bloodhound Gang is no longer earworming me into insanity. I probably will be meditating in a few minutes, and somewhere in the mix there will be a shower. Everything is better after a shower.

The world keeps spinning, and I keep learning. The most pedestrian of days can turn into a roller coaster, and it sometimes feels like we are out of control. But really it’s just a matter of holding on and enjoying the ride whenever we possibly can.

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At least our dog looks relaxed today. I guess we have that going for us. (Isn’t she adorable?!?)

Love and light always – Joanna  😉

 

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The Perpetual Happiness Pitch

image000000_62Somewhere along the way someone pitched the idea that we should be happy all of the time. Should we feel any emotions that are not on the scale of yippy skippy or above, that should be taken as an indication that we are less than, that something must be wrong with us that needs to be fixed or medicated away, and that we have fallen off the right path. And to what I am certain was that person’s absolute amusement and utter shock, tons of people bought into those concepts and deemed them to be true.

The suggestion that a happy pill combined with a few positives mantras a day can permanently banish the blues away sounds dreamy. I rejoice at the thought of never feeling sadness ever again and always having the complete inner knowing that I finally have this human thing totally figured out. I would love for my emotions to be drifting higher and higher as my energy remains in incessant elation.

But there is one little hiccup with this idea. It’s not going to happen. Ever.

Perpetual happiness with zero down days are totally achievable. If you are a robot. A weirdly happy robot. But for the rest of the people going through the motions of being a human, that’s not remotely realistic. More specifically, the idea that you are failing as a healthy and complete person if you haven’t achieved unwavering joy is a complete scam.

That’s not how we are built. And in my personal belief, that’s not why we were built.

In same way that I am in firm disagreement with the idea of actual humans being able to attain genuine “perfection” (definition yet to be determined and current living example of said characteristic yet to be found), I don’t believe that we are meant to be happy all of the time. I feel strongly that we are creatures of contrast. Our growth and our understanding happens through what we can perceive specifically via those differences –  good versus not good, joyful versus not joyful, loving versus unloving, etc.

The emotional ups and downs give the perspective and shape your value system. The difficult times give greater worth to the good moments. Sometimes you are going to have a rough day, but sometimes you are going to have a rough year. That doesn’t make you damaged goods. Instead it gives you a more expansive range of comparison so you can appreciate and cherish the better times.

Everyone has stuff. Everyone goes through stuff. Everyone feels stuff. You’re not messed up because you do, too. Be proactive about taking steps to keep incessant unhappiness from controlling you, but don’t allow an unquenchable desire to be perpetually happy to control you either.

Our emotions are like the tides. They have a rhythm, and they will come and go. I do believe that we have some control over how deep we are willing to wade into those waters, but it seems to make more sense to let them roll with them with them versus trying to pretend that we can stop them altogether by refusing to acknowledge their presence.

You don’t have to act on the hurt, sadness, or anger on the outside, but you can give yourself permission to feel those emotions on the inside. That doesn’t make you broken. It makes you real.

We all drift in and out of the rough waters at times, but the smooth seas will eventually reveal themselves. Just keep afloat a little longer until they do.

Love and light always – Joanna

Unhelping Around the Home

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Exhibit A

For years I have thought of karma as God’s sense of humor.  It now seems to me that my kids are also in on the joke.  Check out these pants.  Do I respect the efficiency of fusing your pants and underoos into one removable set like a human banana peel?  Oh yes.  Do I also respect the fact that collections of said sets are left hidden amongst the balled up dirty socks?  Oh no.

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I agree that it can be annoying to try to figure out what to do with that one ever-present sock that continues to reappear but never seems to have a match.  Again, high-five on your creativity.  However I feel like there could be better options for this sock that don’t involve the silverware drawer.  Maybe you could put it in the clothing drawer dedicated to lonely singles of the sock world?  Yes – I have that drawer and yes the other sock was in it.

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I get it.  I said “use a chip clip on the bag after you finish eating” when I should have said “don’t do that utterly ridiculous thing you know not to do because we have discussed it repeatedly and you keep ruining our food.”  My bad.

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This is a shout out to the spouses of the world.  I discovered this stale cracker crime scene one day too late.  Thanks so much babe for helping scientists confirm that the inability to correctly utilize a chip clip is in fact dominant in the human genome.

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Ok so you did blow your nose per my request.  But there’s this very small part of me that feels that perhaps – and to be clear, I’m no expert here – just maybe you could have opted for a couple less squares of TP??

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Your unhelp with regard to feeding the dog has not gone unnoticed.  With that said, I would like to mention that we typically put the food in the actual dog bowl as well as the actual dog mouth.  We also give her actual dog food.  Beyond that, I think you did it just right.

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As we all have moments of noteworthy unhelpfulness, I wanted to wrap this up with one last pic that involved the whole family – yours truly included.  I would love to tell you that this was staged, but this work of art was totally legit.  We had fallen into (and tripped over) this ridiculous collection many times.  Every shoe size living in this house was represented in varying degrees in this mountain of footwear.  How could my OCD have failed me so deeply and allowed it to occur?  If you look in the background, you will notice the real bonus of this pic.  There are TWO shoe racks in the background and both have space.  Since the time of this photo (taken a few months ago), I have added more shoe racks combined with an exponential increase in meltdowns on my part.  Amazingly the problem has been mostly resolved.

Please hear me on this because it only works if you apply both parts of the technique.  You cannot just rely on shoe racks.  A constant reinforcement of the mommy meltdown plus the addition of too many shoe racks to justify any further excuses is the best way to achieve any level of shoe organization.  To expedite the process, I suggest integrating disappearing Xbox remotes and the refusal to make cookies.  This works on a personal level as well because you create an inner sense of guilt that is akin to “Oh crapola.  I want to leave my shoes here but I have to pick the damn things up since I just hollered at everyone for leaving theirs in the same spot.  Plus I want cookies.”  This is the only scenario I seem to have addressed with any level of effectiveness.  The others continue to be shining examples of the countless ways unhelp is incorporated into our daily lives.

If you are needing tips on how you can learn to unhelp more around your own home, I strongly recommend that you ask your kids for actual help.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but I can assure you that this is the fastest way to witness optimal unhelping techniques.  Spouses and partners are also great teachers in this department, but don’t be afraid to look in the mirror either.  You, too, have the power to sabotage food storage, house cleanliness, and the general basics of staying organized.  If you can recognize the mere seconds it would take to do the job right, and then do absolutely nothing with them instead, you will be well on your way.  Best of luck.

***MoJo***

Mother’s Day – A Day of Relaxation (Unless Of Course You’re an Actual Mother)

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Image Credit – My Endless Laundry – You’re Always There for Me

Moms aren’t typically allowed to voice these words, but thankfully Hallmark has authorized me to tell the responsibilities of the adult world to stick it and do whatever I want – reality be damned!  So here it is…

Mother’s Day can be a mother of a day.  This “holiday” has been a major source of stress for me for years.  I genuinely want the extraordinary moms in my life to understand how precious they are to me.  Although I dream about doing something amazing and special and wow-worthy, the odds are uncomfortably high (and not ever in my favor) that I was unable to scrape together enough time or energy to shower every day over the previous week, let alone put together all the required parts of a grandiose plan that would adequately display my sincere love and appreciation.  To give you a sense of how fantastically together I am on the personal planning front, I can share that I am currently quite excited because my Christmas cards that should have gone out five months ago may at last be in the mail sometime in the next few days.  Or weeks.  Or sometime in June.  Probably July.  Ideally at the latest by Christmas of this year.

And then there’s my own Mother’s Day.  If that’s going to be an actual thing, I will probably need to plan that, too. The mamas also residing in the Land of Reality know what I’m talking about.  Should I make a reservation in advance somewhere fancy or should I save time and just call Denny’s or IHOP to confirm that they haven’t instituted a dress code since last Mother’s Day?  Do I buy my own gift and have my husband tell the kids to give it to me to reinforce the importance of honoring significant people in your life, or should I just glue my own popsicle sticks into the shape of a frame and declare the holiday complete?

This isn’t intended as an indictment of my family or some narcissistic need to be put on a pedestal for a day.  I donated all pedestals to Goodwill years ago because nobody ever used them, and we needed the space for our dust-covered treadmill.  At least we can stack laundry baskets on that.

I’m blessed with beautiful loving children whom I adore (even more so after caffeine) and a husband who is pretty fantastic when it comes to most things related to house, kids and family life.  He’s not perfect, but we wouldn’t make it if he was.  He’s a kind man, a wonderful man really.  In addition, he genuinely tries to modify his approach when he recognizes that something he does or doesn’t do upsets me.  There is a strong possibility that a significant portion of his willingness to change may be directly correlated with the tone and/or volume of my request, but nevertheless it is clear that he sincerely wants me to be happy and feel appreciated and loved.

So I decided to get in front of the issue in advance and have a talk with my husband before the Mothers Day weekend actually started. I explained to my husband (I snapped) and shared my feelings (I totally flipped out) about my concerns surrounding how we had handled that “holiday” in past years.  I needed him to understand that it made me truly happy to plan and buy and do year after year for our moms but that happiness came to a screeching halt when with the planning and buying and doing was on my own behalf.  Hurt feelings with the added bonus of getting to do extra work in the guise of “celebrating” my day never made for a happy wife happy life (or at least not on that weekend).

When the next day rolled around, he had ideas and options and had even made phone calls to actual humans at real places that served food not prepared on a griddle.  (In all fairness, my favorite meals are prepared on a griddle, and I sincerely believe that breakfast should be legally designated as the best dinner option in the universe.  Also dessert should be first, not last.)

The funny part is that the moment he started talking about options and ideas based on the places he had called, I no longer cared if we went anywhere at all.  It was like a switch had been flipped, and my hurt feelings disappeared in an instant.  I realized that the only thing I had truly wanted was to feel worthy of a little effort that showed me that they appreciated me.  That he appreciated me.

In the end, my Mother’s Day weekend included all the reality it could muster – dog barf, a pile of laundry so high that I needed a Sherpa and an oxygen tank to reach the summit, an early morning accident in a bed, five thousand sticky pieces of rice in hair / clothes / table / floor, thousands of my kids’ school papers, several temper tantrums (including my own), and countless other activities that Mother’s Day cards tell you that you don’t have to do because it’s your special day!!  (I have two main theories on those particular cards – 1.  They are written by someone who is not an actual mother but is an actual moron.  2.  They are written by real live mothers who pee their pants laughing when card companies agree to print the cards because they know that other real live moms will get the joke.  Being allowed to stop your grown up tasks is how being a mom on Mother’s Day or your birthday works NEVER.)

But my Mother’s Day also included big fat hugs and sweet wishes from my husband and children.  Each one told me how much they loved me as they wished me a happy Mother’s Day.  Well all except the littlest who became quite angry and insisted on wishing me happy birthday instead.  She is nothing if not committed to absolute accuracy even when she is absolutely inaccurate.  In between rounds of temper tantrums, we were able to spend time with one of my precious moms and some of my amazing sisters and their (our) families whom I adore.  Before and after the various rounds of cleaning, I’ve had lovely conversations with other important mamas and will be seeing some of them in the next few days whenever we can make it happen in a no stress kind of way.

Ultimately I got the breakfast I really wanted – breakfast tacos made by someone else and wrapped in paper.  It was a dish-free dream!  My husband and kids tackled the remaining dishes that appear at random like ceramic gremlins.  We all did laundry and then we went out to dinner.  A few minutes ago I sang “Baby Mine” to my youngest child – my darling angel (who will turn on you in a moment’s notice if you mess with her and quite often even if you don’t). It was a low-key beautiful day that was unexpectedly exactly what I wanted – laundry and all.

I should have told my family how I felt a long time ago. I wanted them to just get it, to know how to prove to me that they saw me, to understand that a small plan requiring a little initiative by them and no effort by me would make me feel very valued as a mom and a wife.  But I never said it like that.  Actually I never said it at all.  Not even to myself.

This past year was a challenge for many of us, and on this Mother’s Day,  I am reminded that I am thankful for the moms who have helped me to survive and to flourish.  I have amazing mothers in my family (moms, grandmothers, sisters, friends) and countless others who continue to catch me when I fall and help me when I fail.  They are my partners in laughter and tears and worst of all – tee ball.  I celebrate all of you.  I am in awe of you, and I thank you for the endless ways that you inspire me to be a better spouse, parent, daughter, sister and friend.

I’ve never been short on words, but I have felt like I have been unable to find my voice for quite some time.  Maybe this is the start of my finding it again.  I wanted my family to see me, but I finally recognize that I needed to see me first.  We often feel so small, but we are doing spectacular things. We are literally creating the future. Each of us shapes the life experiences of every person we contact.

You matter and you are valued.  There is no day on any calendar that will ever be able to convey how precious and treasured you are.  Hold onto the hugs.  Eat dessert first.  Vote for pancakes for dinner.  And if you can, find your voice.

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And this is the magic and why it’s all so worth it!

***MoJo***

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