When Life Gives You Lemons, Drink Champagne

I had a birthday this weekend and it did not go as expected. A trip had been planned; that trip got canceled. I was pretty bummed but then Frank took the girls to the Women’s March and I went to a used bookstore and had a quiet reading lunch. We got a babysitter and had a lovely date night. It snowed and our neighbors fed my family so I could have alone time. I drank champagne while eating leftovers from the fancy date restaurant. All in all, it was a good reminder of what a birthday weekend really should look like: Family, friends, books, and bubbles.

I learned a lot from this weekend that I hope to carry into this next year:

IMG_8185It’s OK to Feel Your Feelings
When I woke up the morning after canceling my flight, I was really sad. I didn’t feel like celebrating. And I let myself feel those feelings. If I had plastered on a happy face, it would have been fine for a while but eventually, that disappointment needed to be felt. So, I did. This year, I want to remember to feel my feelings. Not to wallow in them or to let them ruin an entire day. (And sometimes, it’s just not the right time or place to feel every emotion and I have to wait.) But I want to recognize the health and importance of feeling the uncomfortable feelings – the ones of disappointment or hurt. When I stop and recognize them, I also see some root causes that I may not have noticed before.

What Was My Desired Outcome?
When the actual trip didn’t happen, I thought about things I was looking forward to: Reading a book on the airplane, catching up with a dear friend, resting, solitude, seeing a new place. While I couldn’t catch up with my friend like I was hoping, I did try to recreate some of my other hopes. I stayed in bed and read while Frank took the girls on some outings. I started my “airplane book” at a restaurant and read it for the amount of time I would have been on the plane. When life doesn’t go as planned, I hope to stop and recognize my hopes and outcomes – what can I do to create space for creativity and rest?

Call on Your Community
When we had to shift our plans, we called our babysitter to see if she was free for a date night. I texted a friend about getting together. Our babysitter was available; my friend wasn’t. But reaching out and asking helped get ideas rolling. Once I started thinking about things I wanted to do, I was motivated to get dressed and do them. At first, I wanted to keep my disappointment to myself, but by letting others in, I realized what support and love I have right here – something I hope to never take for granted.

Drink Champagne
A few years ago, Frank got me a case of sparkling wine for my birthday. The idea was that we’d have enough “everyday champagne” to toast all the moments – big and small. So, on this weekend, the girls drank Martinelli’s sparkling cider with every meal and I sipped on Cava all afternoon by the fire. We had the fancy Champagne on my birthday dinner but having something sparkly to sip all weekend reminded me to celebrate every moment, no matter what.

Now, with a few days between me and my initial disappointment, I have a much better perspective. Do I still wish I could have spent some quality time with my friend? Absolutely. But I know it will happen. And the gift of remembering these perfect small details of life made this birthday weekend one that I hope helps define my year.

What are some good life lessons you’ve learned out of disappointment? How do you recalibrate your expectations?

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The Compost Heap

Books you might like:

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(This book gave me perspective.)
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(My “airplane” book.)

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I Respectfully Disagree

One of the challenges of parenting that I find simultaneously most draining, most hopeful, and most constant is finding the balance of teaching respect and allowing our daughters to feel and express their emotions. And believe me, there are so many emotions to feel!

img_3228From learning to share to a project not going a certain way to simply being too tired or too hungry, a day doesn’t go by without tears from someone. (And I’m including myself in that equation.) Most of the time, I want both Bea and Elle to know that they are safe and welcome to feel those feelings. I want them to know that they will always have a safe place here to process and vent and figure out their own views on life.

But we also practice socially acceptable behaviors. We practice rephrasing feelings respectfully and how to ask in a way that helps people understand our needs. We talk a lot about how we may not agree with a choice or a decision but that we have to respect the outcome. But I also want them to know that just because I’m their parent doesn’t mean my choice is always final or right or unchangeable. It’s intensive work, creating human beings and citizens of this world.

Since November, I’ve seen many admonitions for disappointed people to respect the President. That, once the election was decided, we should put away our disappointments and anxiety, forgive the divisive comments and attitude, and throw our support fully and completely behind the president-elect.

On Inauguration Day, I saw it again – Just give him a chance; We are called to respect the office of President; God calls us to pray for our leaders. These are all statements I absolutely agree with. I do hope that our nation is guided to a place of justice and reconciliation; I do respect the office of President and am so grateful we live in a nation that practices the peaceful transfer of power; I have and will continue to pray for wisdom for our elected leaders.

But respect and disagreement aren’t exclusive. I can respect the office of President and vehemently disagree with the tone and words he uses to describe those who don’t support him. I can respect the office of President and be dismayed at the fact that he would choose to threaten arts funding (which makes up .02% of the federal budget) while likely boosting military spending to $1 trillion. I can respect the office of President and give the President a chance while remaining a bit skeptical. The cabinet nominees alone have given me little reason to celebrate unity and reconciliation.

I can respect the office of President and still believe that America has always been great; that we can move forward rather than looking backwards. I can respect the office of President and speak out against discrimination and hate.

In fact, speaking out may be the best way to show my respect. I respect this office so much that to blindly follow; to support without thinking; to not give voice to the voiceless would be the greatest disrespect I could show.

We grow and we learn from each other. We are stronger when we truly take the time to listen and understand each other’s stories.

I have a feelings these upcoming years will be a lesson in learning to find the balance I’m trying to teach my girls. To learn to feel my feelings; to respect others; and to use my voice to protect and help those who will be deeply impacted by this quest for greatness.

Hopefully, through discussion and disagreement; through debate and conversation, we’ll work together to continue making this a great country.

How do you engage with others of differing opinions? Does debate energize you or drain you?

When Life is a Badger Fight

Look mom – my knee is all scraped because I got in a fight with a badger.

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Wandering Supergirl

I looked at Bea’s already scabbed and newly bloodied knee. It did, indeed, look as though she had gotten in a fight with a badger. The source was from biking too fast, taking too many sharp turns, and valuing speed over safety.

Yesterday felt a bit like waking up after a badger fight. I was (and still am) so very surprised at what America most values. I was so sure that love would win, that kindness still mattered, that we weren’t really afraid of the unknown. I was wrong. My heart hurts for those who are truly, deeply impacted by the values represented in this election.

Bea asked me if she could still be president when she grew up and I couldn’t honestly answer that question. Can she? As long as we are afraid, can a minority or a woman or anyone who is different from the status quo become president without serious repercussions? In the next thirty years, I hope something changes.

I know I’ll feel hopeful again. I know that this presidency won’t be our worst and that, in the greatest scheme of things the next four years can’t really undo all the progress we as a nation have made. I know that my hope is in something greater, something that will last far beyond any nation we live in.

But I’ll also take time to grieve. To allow myself to be sad that my neighbors don’t love each other well enough. That I don’t love them well enough. That we still live rooted in fear rather than hope. I’ll acknowledge those big, sad feelings.

And then, I’ll move on. But this time with a new perspective. With a keener eye for injustice and how I can actively be part of the change. I’ll vote even more consciously with my dollars and support causes that will reflect my values, far more than any candidate ever could.

I’ll remember that it is in our small, everyday moments that these ideals are lived out. That small moments lead to big changes.

Ever the optimist, Bea told me that if she can’t be president, maybe she’ll be a “wanderer.” I told her that sounded good. She’ll be just as likely to fight a badger, either way.

How do you vote with your dollars? And, how do you explain politics to the preschool crowd?

Throwing a Popsicle Festival

I’m over at Debby Hudson’s today, sharing a story about the power of food (or popsicles) to built community. Head over to join the conversation!

We live in a neighborhood where the ministry of popsicles is alive and well. Most evenings, when the sun isn’t quite as hot or high, a little bicycle gang emerges and our cul-de-sac is filled with pedals and scooters and wild kids. They run until a knee is scraped and then someone brings out the healing power of frozen juice. We sit under a tree cooling off and recovering.

IMG_1125-1024x1024Bea wanted to buy popsicles for the neighborhood and have a “festival.” She planned where we would put the picnic blanket and even moved rocks to the corners so it would stay put. We went to the store and bought a big box of Pushup frozen fruit pops.

While kids are out most days, there are some in which Bea rides alone. I explained that it’s great to throw impromptu celebrations but we also need to be prepared for the possibility that our buddies have other plans – that they might not know we have a festival planned.

Bea nodded but the excitement for her party was apparent. After naptime, I tried to stall her with promises of extra screen time, coloring together, anything to wait a few more minutes to be absolutely certain the other kids would be out.

We went outside and waited. And waited. Bea wondered where they could be. Why weren’t they coming to her festival? She rode slowly around the cul-de-sac, making up songs, eagerly watching front doors. I had mentioned the possibility to a couple parents, but plans aren’t firm during this summer witching hour and I didn’t want to make our little festival too big a deal.

Finally, it was obvious we were it. Bea was clearly disappointed and you could see all the feelings on her face as she tried to process this failed party.

Find out the resolution over at Debby’s and be sure to join in the conversation!