Monday, May 30, 2016

Are you Still Living at Home? Maybe you should try it…

Fear not, millennials…gen x and y…and everything in between.  I’m not talking about moving back home or never leaving the nest!

I’m talking about whether or not any of us truly live at home anymore.  I’ve given this more thought as of late, considering my work days, school routine for kids, and all the “dot, dot, dots” in between the text bubbles of my blogosphere.

So what do I mean by living at home?  I, myself, didn’t realize the distinction until recently.  It begins with the idea of what it felt like to live at home when I was a kid.  Since I was the only girl and had three brothers, I was lucky enough to have my own room.  There was a certain kind of power I felt in being able to go to my room, close the door, and listen to music or read.  It was like I could close out the rest of the world.  Any chaos surrounding the edges of my own life were silenced the second I closed my door.   It was a sanctuary and calm for any storm.  But even beyond that room, there was a backyard, with a tree house, a water fountain my dad hung on the back of the house, and a basement where you explored, not lived.  Family rooms were non-existent in my house.  You lived in the room called the “living room.”  The living room was where the television was, the family stereo (8 track and all), and anything else that represented entertainment (including a silly video game called “Pong” - check out the graphics ).  We lived our lives around the house.  Sure, we had weekend getaways to our grandparents’ farm.  But during the school year and the every day kind of days of summer, our house was where we lived. 

Radio Shack state of the art stereo
In the summer, my mom laid out (sunbathed) in a white bikini, with her platinum blonde hair, and her skin a dark brown, glimmering from the Bain de Soleil orange gel sunscreen (SPF 4 and it was sun tanning oil back in the day).  She used one of those bendy kind of plastic roped loungers (you know the ones that clicked when you picked the perfect position, only to have it fall backwards and knock you on your butt).  We had an above ground pool, which is where we all lived in the summer months…except for when we were riding our bikes, barefoot and without helmets around the neighborhood. 

My dad loved the Cincinnati Reds.  I never understood listening to a baseball game on the radio, but it always passed the time after he’d cut the grass and climbed into his own lawn chair on the front porch.  And yes, he wore black socks with sandals, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter much back then.  He also usually had a frosty mug, with a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon nearby. 

We didn’t have play dates.  If we played sports, the fields were within walking distance.  So yeah, we lived at home.

Fast forward to my life today.  My house used to feel like a place to drop off stuff and run back out, to shop, go do busy work and run errands.  Because when I came home, all the responsibilities hung heavy in the air and I forgot why I loved this house.

They say necessity is the mother of all invention…well, I’d have to agree.  Because I’m not sure I would have decided to live at home again if it hadn’t been a requirement to adjust my standard of living back to where it needed to be. 

I started with denial.  No way I was going to keep up with all this stuff.  All I wanted to do was go to my room and close the door.  Note to self:  you are the mom and while you still have your own room, you have kids to raise, grass to cut, dishes to wash, and laundry...OMG there is always more laundry. 

Still I revolted, finding places to go and things to do that would take us out of the house and away from all of the work that needed to be done.  I got lucky with the yard over the winter.  You don’t cut what doesn’t grow in cold weather.  But around spring, it was clear I was indeed living at home and the rules had all changed. 

And then with the beginning of summer, came Memorial Day, the first long holiday weekend.  A team effort, we pulled the house together (mostly) inside and out…even managed to have Sunday supper with fresh strawberries, home made apple cake, and all the other “fixin's” that represent home to me.  Still, it was only starting to sink in for me…this idea of living at home.

Around noon today, I fully embraced this notion of moving back home for good.  After we’d all cut the grass, pulled weeds, and straightened up the dawned on me.

I was wearing my floppy hat, with green trim (it started out as a vacation hat last year in Kiawah and is now a must have for mowing grass and working outside).  I grabbed a book and a Diet Coke and headed out to the back patio.  I’m not a sun worshipper like my mom, so I grabbed my rocking wicker patio chair and dragged it into the shade.  I sat down, put my feet up, and looked around.  For once, I didn’t feel the need to retreat back into the air conditioning because compared to the sun beating down earlier doing yard work, there was a pleasant warm breeze in the shade.  There was a beautiful sky, with the fluffy white clouds I used to stare at as a kid.  And as I looked over at my planting beds and vegetable garden, I finally realized I still have it made, living at home.  I strongly recommend it…all it takes is looking at your four walls with a fresh set of eyes, where you can feel more than you see.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Top Ten Survival Tips for School Break

1.              Remember that you couldn’t wait to be finished with the school year, schedule, homework, and early morning wake-ups for cranky kids.
2.              If you have a wireless network, remember that the router is portable and you can parent by proxy by taking it to work with you.
3.              Facetime gives you a partial view of your kid’s immediate surrounding and you can confirm they are at home at any time.
4.              Report cards will be held unless you pay all fees…check for library books, textbooks, and any other prisoners of war hiding at home (and no, your little darlings won’t tell you unless you ask…twice).
5.              Gifting is important for teachers, especially middle school, or if you have more than one child (hint…there will be another school year, you know and love your child…and even you can’t say a simple “thank you” gets you through the worse days of tweens).
6.              Have a online network roadmap and list of your kids’ social media networks, and accounts/handles (legit and parent approved as well as the ones they fib about age and change name for anonymity). Hint:  most minimum age requirements for social networks is 13, which means your “teen” would need to be born in 2003 (or earlier)…and yes, that’s one math equation they can solve!
7.              There is new leverage in the summertime for getting chores done (see #2 again on parenting by proxy).
8.              School’s out for summer, but you still get to go to work.
9.              No packing lunches for three months.
10.          Matching clothes and socks optional…you still have to dress appropriately to go to work, but you might not mind as much knowing you’re not going to get a call about a sick child, forgotten assignment, missing backpack, house key…(fill in the blank to infinity).

For further inspiration, go to rendition of “School’s Out for Summer” by Alice Cooper (very old school!)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pack Your Bags

If you were taking a trip, you’d likely know where you were going, what the weather would be like…how long you would be there…and what you would need while you were away.

But what about the other life journeys we take unexpectedly?  What about the ones that are not planned out…and yet we are still required to take action at a moment’s notice?  That’s when you realize that no matter how much preparation you do in anticipation of making a change or taking a journey, you usually wind up spending too much time thinking about what to take with you and not enough time considering what you should leave behind:

1.              The Past…if you’re headed to a new destination and on a path to higher learning, you must leave your past behind.
2.              Anger…with yourself, with others, for what life has dealt you and the cards you didn’t get.
3.              Forgiveness…don’t leave it behind, but make sure you’ve forgiven yourself and anyone else who has wronged you...learn life lessons the first go round, so you never have to look back.
4.              Regret…it’s pointless, not productive and keeps you from focusing on what really counts…YOU and YOUR future!
5.              Ignorance…not the child-like quality of wanting to see the best in people, but with new perspective that sadly, you cannot trust everyone.

Live in the moment, take chances...and remember to travel light when you PACK YOUR BAGS!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mayday...Monday Motivation (not so much)

Not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner.  The international distress signal might be the perfect answer for anything complicated in my life.  “Mayday, mayday, mayday!”  The first time it was referred to as such was in 1923, and was made official in 1948.  Apparently a radio officer came up with it because it was so close to the French word “m’aider,” which means “help me.”  It’s so simple!

I’ve written about landing planes and driving trucks, journeys and destinations…and yet, through all of my life travels over the past year, bouncing in and out of tight spots and uncertain landings, why is it I never once considered simply stopping, surveying the landscape, and sending out a mayday for help?  It’s not like there weren’t plenty of places since 2015 that were fraught with emotional stress and fear.  I paused long enough to write about it, turn it into something positive, and live to fight another day…and most days, I have landed in a good place.  But if anyone thinks this little text bubble of a blog is all sunshine and roses, think again.  There were plenty of maydays behind the scenes and I was never left stranded at any time...I might have cried mayday too often and too early, but just like the runway lights I wrote about during a different time in my life - for more on that go to
the  very tight circle of what I would call my "guardians of rough seas" were always there to help me re-fuel, re-energize, and get back on track.  I could not have made it this far without them.  But now I feel like I'm moving into more uncharted territory and international waters, where my calls for help need to transition into fewer moments of fear and crisis and more of me calming my own waters, often unsettled by my own making.  I know how to use a flare gun, I can swim (okay, doggie paddle), and if hard pressed, I can paddle too in order to keep moving even when the waters get rough.  I will start thinking more on my feet, believing in the best...but allowing for upsets as well.

Today’s the day I pause…and share absolutely nothing.  No trick mirrors or illusions of a grand journey bringing me to exactly where I want to be.  Hell no, I’m not where I want to be…but I do believe I’m exactly where I need to be.  I’m off to a great start and the mountains are starting to thin out, but I’m still trudging through the wilderness, surrounded by trees so dense, I lose my way just about every other day.   Am I inspired?  Yes, I am constantly inspired and amazed by stories of hope, Ted talks, Harvard Business Review, and the simple beauty of a sunrise or rainbow (even if thus far, I’ve not found a pot of gold at the end).   Am I acting on that inspiration and using it the way I should to be a better person…and not a bitter one?  Truth time?  No, not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some days I taste a big dose of bitter.  Some days I pause long enough to feel the exhaustion that I shake off every day…because if I pause too long, it will become a stronger driving force than the inspiration I look for and hunger for in every area of my life.

Today is the day I choose to share my mayday to the masses.  Not because my ship is sinking or I feel hopeless…but if it is the international distress signal for help, then I want to share it with my fellow travelers around the world…sometimes, the simple fact that it is Monday is reason enough to call out, “mayday, mayday, mayday.”  Let’s stick together and navigate our way safely to another, “Friday, Friday, Friday!”