Note to Self (and anyone else who needs to hear it): Your life is what you make of it. You are 100% responsible for your happiness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Podium - Scary Stuff

After reading Megan's blog, How to Jump in the Deep End, I felt inspired to do a little blogging myself this morning. (Thanks Megan!) If you follow Megan, you know how inspiring she can be. If you haven't read her stuff, you should go check her out.

I’ve never been the public speaker type. In high school I once took a zero for an oral report grade because I wouldn’t get up to read it to the class. Sad, I know. I have been known to say things like, “I can write a killer speech, but do not ask me to stand at the podium and read it.” (There’s just something about a podium that scared the bajeebers out of me.)

Well … I learned that a fear, even a long-time fear, isn’t necessarily a permanent one. Two years ago my Aunt asked me to do a reading at my cousin’s funeral service. My reaction was something like, “Me? You want ME to?” She said yes, but quickly added not if I’m uncomfortable, etc. I wanted to, God knows I did, but at that moment the fear had the bail on the tip of my tongue. I got a grip on it fast, and wouldn’t let myself take the out. I was honored that she asked me, that she wanted ME to do it. This was the funeral of her son – something I cannot fathom going through. It was important, and I didn’t want to say no. So I said yes, and went home with the printout of the reading and read it over and over and over forever before going to bed.

The next day at church my heart was beating a bit quicker than it normally does, and I found myself staring at that darn podium. I asked God to give me the strength to go up there and read this reading nice and clear to all of Kerry’s friends and family who came because they loved him so much. When I got the look/nod from the priest indicating it was my turn to go up, I stood up, walked down the row and up the aisle, climbed the steps, stood at the podium (insert scary music), and stared out at a sea of people all staring back at me. With the reading clutched tightly in my hand, I breathed … just fine actually. My heartbeat was normal.

I imagined (a more appropriate word would be – felt) the presence of God standing behind me, arms wrapped around me, with His face resting against the left side of my face. With a whispered “Okay, now go…” in my ear, I started reading. I think I spoke clearly. I felt choked-up but I know I didn’t cry. I remembered not to read too fast, and to pause in between phrases. I even looked out into the audience during the reading … a little.

That evening I saved the print-out in my Bible. It’s special to me mostly because I read it at Kerry’s service, but also because … I read it, at Kerry’s service. It was a turning point for me in the confidence department. A gift given to me by my Aunt, who doesn’t even know that she gave me something so special in a time of such heartache.

I’ve had to speak several times since then, and I’ve done just fine. Nobody ever makes fun of me. ...Imagine that. If you have the opportunity to face a long-time fear, give it a shot. You might be surprised at how well you do when you're no longer that scaredy cat from years ago.

Be blessed, everyone. LIVE your life. Take chances. Hug your kids. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Kaylie

I've been doing this “Mom” thing for 22 years now…
Me and Kaylie
When I became a mom back on March 24, 1989, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Poor Kaylie – she was a guinea pig in my learn-as-you-go world of motherhood. I made mistakes, as we all do. But seriously, somewhere along the way I had to do something right; because Kaylie has grown up to be this amazing, caring, loving, strong, determined, capable, beautiful woman. (I have so many more adjectives but I figured I should tone it down a bit, ha!) 
Kaylie (center) with high school girlfriends
From the start, Kaylie was confident, a leader, and a nonconformist. I remember when she was in 5th grade she came home from school PIZZED. She told me she was playing with a group of girls on the playground, and another little girl wanted to join in. These two “stupid girls” in the group told her she couldn’t play with them because her “clothes didn’t match.” (This little girl wore hand-me-downs in pretty bad shape – the family was struggling.) Kaylie told those two “popular” girls that they were NOT the boss of the group, and then told the little girl to “come on, we’ll go play something else,” and walked off. A few other girls walked off with her/them. THAT’S my Kaylie… standing up for what’s right, not worrying about what anyone will think, never EVER shutting up when a wrong is being done to someone. I often wonder if that little girl remembers that day. I’m not even sure Kaylie does. But I do … I’ll never forget it. Sitting in the living room listening to her tell me this story – the passion in her eyes, the anger in her voice, the confidence she had, never once thinking how it could have outcasted HER from the “popular group” … it was one of my proudest moments as a mom.
Kerri, huggin' on her Mama
She is a mother herself now, and every time I see her in mommy-action I think… She’s a much better mom than I ever was at that age. How’d she get so good at it so quickly? Just a few minutes around her daughter, Kerri (have I mentioned I have the most beautiful grand-angel in the world?), and it’s easy to see that this baby is happy, healthy, LOVED, and well on her way to becoming an incredible woman, just like her Mama.

Kaylie - you are the light in my life and I love you more than you'll ever know. ~Mom 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Gramma Passed Down the Strong-Woman Gene

If there is such a gene, we've got it. In my family there's not a wimpy female among us. Strong women... strong willed for sure, but it's more like we're all made of strong emotional building blocks stacked on a sound foundation. Our foundation's strength comes from the strong women before us -- teaching us along the way. (Alright already with the metaphors - geez.)

Okay so one of the women in my family who influenced me is my Gramma Lucy. My Mom's Mom. In all of my childhood memories of her, she's smiling (just like in this picture). She enjoyed life, saw the good in everyone, the humor in everything, and shared her wisdom with me often. 
I was about 8 years old when I told her I hated a boy in school who was mean to me. (Phillip - sheesh, what a jerk.) She told me I shouldn't hate him, that it's such a strong feeling, and that God doesn't want us to hate anybody. Then she leaned in close and whispered, "You can really, really 'not like' him, but try not to hate him." ...HA! You rock, Gramma.
Later on, during my oh-so-very dramaaaaatic teen years, I was complaining to her about a "friend" who had talked behind my back, lied about me, and blah blah freakin' waaaaaaah. Gramma looked me in the eyes and asked, "Why are you friends with her?" I didn't have an answer -- not one single reason. She talked a bit about how life is too short to put up with that crap. And then she said the words that have stuck with me for 30 years... "Surround yourself with those who make you smile."
At first it seems like a simple enough statement. Kind of an "awwww" moment. Sure. But if you let it sink in, say it a few times in your head, you might see that it's the smartest thing anyone has ever said in the history of people saying things. Uh huh. Sure is. It is without a doubt, my life's motto in a nutshell.
God needed Gramma in Heaven, unexpectedly, on June 16, 1987. (I'm still a little mad at Him for that, but I can't blame Him. She would be an incredible asset to any good-guy organization.) Her 3 daughters and 12 granddaughters are all amazing women today due in part to her influence. And because she helped shape us, her 7 great granddaughters (with another about to arrive!), and now even a great-great granddaughter (that's my grand-angel) are all amazing women in-the-making. I know she watches over us. And I know she's proud of us all -- not only our strength, but our bond to each other that is the glue of the entire family.

I wrote this poem (below) for the women in my family a few years ago. Thought I'd share it today.
Have a good one, y'all.
To the Females of Our Family:
The women in this family are the ties that make it strong
The reason that our family tree’s roots are deep and long
From Carol down to Laureli, and all of us in between
There is strength of character – you all know what I mean
The ones who came before us, and the little ones yet to arrive
The former our foundation, the latter too will strive
We’re there at a moment’s notice when any of us makes a call
Offering unquestioning support, never letting one of ours fall
Sometimes things can get crazy, but always we are there
It’s nothing short of priceless, this bond that we all share
I’m proud to be part of our circle, holding hands with you
I cherish where we come from, who we are, and what we do
I love you all with the whole of my heart.
XOXOXO, Love Jen
Copyright Jennifer Moody 2008