Pep Talk to My 15-½-year-old Self

Okay, Cindy, pay attention because this is some of the most important stuff you’ll ever hear. And the only time you’ll hear it.

First, congratulations. You made it through your freshman year of high school. Now in 10th grade and 15 ½ years old, you’re midway through your teen years. And still alive and well. That’s an accomplishment you’ll appreciate later.

Caught at the halfway point between childhood and womanhood, you’re having a Mid-teen Crisis, although you have no name for it. You’re tying to figure out who you are, while others are tying to tell you who or what you should be.

That’s all right. In fact, it’s pretty normal.

You forget to shave your legs or tweeze the uni-brow because you’d rather be outside examining trees and plants, playing with your dog, or running wild in an open field and flying a kite. And maybe when you finally go inside at dusk, you don’t feel like washing your hair and winding it around giant rollers to make it straight, as fashion of the time dictates. You get teased about your unkempt appearance.

So what? Enjoy being a kid a while longer.

Try not to obsess over your delayed physical development. Don’t even think about it for another year, because you’re wasting your time. Of course, you’re in awe of girls your age and younger who wear a bra cup size with letters that otherwise represent mediocre to poor grades in school. It hurts sometimes when boys pay attention only to those girls, especially that one boy you like in particular.

Don’t worry. Your time will come.

When it does, don’t let a boy you date convince you to drop any activities, hobbies, or friends you enjoy. He criticizes those things you love because he’s jealous. He knows they make you look interesting and attractive, and he can’t stand it.

DrawingTeenCouple

A drawing I did in high school of a happy couple I hoped someday to be a part of.

On to the practical aspects of life.

It’s great that you learned to sew. That skill will serve you well in your impoverished college years when you mend torn pants to wear another semester and create a blouse from a dollar’s worth of fabric.

Now learn to cook. Don’t wait so long.

And read more. A lot more. Classic novels and current events magazines.

The times in which you live are a turning point in American history. Watch the news, and listen to adults talk about it. You’ll use the knowledge gained to interpret the cultural and political events in your adulthood.

Even though it’s hard to talk to your father, do it. Think of topics you both might enjoy. You won’t have many more years of conversations with him.

Consider more career options than you do now. Research them and ask questions of professionals in those fields. Seek advice about what to study in college to prepare for more than one option.

Bottom line? Don’t limit your possibilities in any way. In forty years, the people and things you enjoy in life may surprise you.

profile_pic  Cynthia

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A Baseball Mom and the Mudville Nine

 

My initiation into the world of sports began thirty-three years ago when my oldest son ventured into the world of t-ball. As each brother reached the grand old age of four, he joined the ranks of youth baseball teams. I have no better memories than those balmy evenings in June bruising my behind on bleachers and cheering my little boys to victory.

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With spring’s arrival, we leapt into all things baseball. Visiting the baseball card shop. Practices. Washing uniforms. Games. Washing uniforms. Concessions. I even sold an article to a magazine extolling the agony and the ecstasy of a six-inning Little League game!

We instituted baseball traditions at home. The season opened with our favorite videos. Major League, Major League 2, The Sandlot, and my husband rediscovered his childhood favorite, It Happens Every Spring. Other baseball movies rotated in and out, but those four were the staples of our viewing diet. To gain relief from hotdogs and nacho dinners fresh from the concession stand, I could be counted on to bring the boys’ favorites of tuna macaroni salad or ham and cheese sub sandwiches to their games. By the time, the youngest was in high school, those subs had won the distinction of a home run meal for the team between doubleheaders.

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Years passed. The oldest boy dropped baseball to create a successful high school sports career in swimming. The next son earned a college baseball scholarship but declined the money once he realized baseball practice and travel to games plus premed courses and biology labs equaled not enough time to succeed in either endeavor.

With one child left in baseball, I cherished every inning. He did not disappoint. We were able to attend games through all of his college years. Even better, he coaches his own high school team now. My husband will travel out of state to visit him later this month to attend their tournament. I’m jealous.

My boys will tell you that I never truly learned baseball lingo (“It’s not a hit, Mom. He only made contact with the ball.”). I don’t mind the teasing. Even though the words rarely come out of my mouth correctly, I’ve learned a lot more about baseball and life raising my sons than the years my parents dragged me to my brothers’ games.

PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, don’t let him strike out. PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, help him to pitch over the plate. Not every one of those prayers was answered with a yes from the Almighty. Through God’s grace, this mom and her kids learned how to handle the success of RBIs and sacrifice bunts, as well as how to endure the humiliation of fielding errors and hitting the batter.

casey at the bat

All of this to say: my favorite sports-oriented poem is “Casey at the Bat.”  As literature, I enjoy the rhythms of the poem. As a baseball aficionado, I appreciate the details of the game. As a Christian, I love the spiritual lesson. If you’ve read it, you know the moral of the story.  If you haven’t, read it! Then comment and let me know what the life lesson is.

Confessions of the world’s worst SuperMom

SuperMom - LG

If you’re like me, there are people in your life that amaze you.

I have a close friend who homeschools her eight children and makes it look easy. Wow.

There’s a sweet woman who works part time at our chuch who has sextuplets. I have no idea how she manages that! But she does – she says God provides, and I guess he’d have to!

If you notice, there’s a theme here. I’m in awe of women with lots of children who can get anything done, much less homeschool them. I am NOT gifted in those areas.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that there’s nothing that can make me curl into the fetal position and blubber like an idiot than the threat of being left alone with small children. My terror is directly related to the number of children, and indirectly related to their age. (To translate: the younger and more of them there are, the scarier it is to me.)

What most people see
What most people see
What I see

What I see

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love kids, especially my own. But there’s a reason why I don’t volunteer in the children’s ministry at my church. I tried it once /shudder/, and it went okay, but the thought of doing it again made me physically ill. I figured once I had kids of my own, it would get better. But you know what?

It didn’t.

It got worse. Once I had kids, I thought I should be able to handle it. That I should be able to single-handedly entertain and potty train a whole herd of munchkins. When I couldn’t, I labeled myself a failure and it spun me into a cycle of depression. The lies we tell ourselves do that.

The crazy thing is that some people see ME as SuperMom (bless their pointy heads) because I work part-time at our church, I’m a writer, I volunteer on 2 PTAs and with an online magazine as a production manager, I do consulting work, my husband and I lead a Bible study group… you get the idea.

Apparently, I make all these things look easy, and that gives the wrong impression that I’ve got all my stuff together. Which I absolutely do not. You would know that in a second if you saw the mess that was my house. Want proof? Here’s the Christmas wish list my youngest child made this year:

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#3 is on there because I’m horrible about going to the grocery store. (There might be kids there!) Minion 2 sometimes has a hard time finding something she likes for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or…/sigh/

Here’s the thing: all of us are uniquely gifted by God. Managing little children is not one of my gifts, but organization and administration is. So to people who aren’t good at organizing or managing things, I look like SuperMom. But to me, people who unconditionally love kids – each and every one, no matter race, color, creed, or disability – I’m in awe of them.

So I’ll make a deal with you. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another, and start celebrating the unique people God made us to be. And if you see someone doing a great job at something, make sure to tell them! Because you can be sure they’re failing at something else. 😉

NOW YOU: WHAT IS YOUR SUPERPOWER AND WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE?

Almost a Mother’s Worst Nightmare

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“Mom. Where are you now?”

The urgency in my son’s voice shot into my ear from my cell phone. The initial embarrassment of forgetting to turn off my cell phone during a golf game evaporated immediately.

“Dave. Why? What’s the matter?” I was sure everyone around me heard my heartbeats. My husband stopped our golf cart, and stared at me.

“Mom. Understand. I’m okay. Alright? I’m okay.”

This, of course, did nothing to calm me.

“I’ve been in a rafting accident. I’m in an ambulance on the way to Golden.”

“Oh, Dave.” I fought to control my voice and tears, and ordered myself to hold it together. “What happened? Is everyone else okay?”

The hesitation in his answer sliced through me.

“Our raft flipped over and… and my friend Rene died.”

Shock, fear and sorrow ricocheted around in my brain, but also thankfulness that I was hearing his voice trying to calm me down. He took a deep breath and related the horrific story of a weekend rafting trip gone terribly wrong.

My husband and I dropped everything and drove the four-hour trip through the night to arrive in Golden at 1:00 a.m. All I could think of was to be strong for my son who had obviously gone through the worst 12 hours of his young life.

However, when I saw my red-eyed limping son at the hotel waiting for us, my tears of thankfulness mixed with sorrow burst through the dam.

My son was exhausted from telling the story many times to the search and rescue, police, doctors etc. so we let him tell us what he could before we turned the lights out for a sleepless and restless night.

My heart couldn’t stop aching for the lovely young man whom we’d never met, and whose life had ended all too soon in a matter of minutes. Rene was well-known, and popular, and only a turn of fate placed him in the front of the raft, where two occupants were thrown into the river. Only one was retrieved to the safety of a floating, albeit eventually upside down raft.

The next day we had to clean out Rene’s truck and drive it back to his awaiting fiancée. (They were to be married in one month) Again, my tears would not be denied, as I looked at the lettering on the truck of this young man’s business. He had built a new business, was going to get married, had his whole life ahead of him, but within minutes on the river, everything he and his fiancée had planned ended.

During the long drive home, I reflected on how we are given people to love in our lives. Without the ecstatic ups from marriage, births, and watching your kids graduate etc., and the heart-wrenching downs of family feuds, sickness, and death etc., we wouldn’t be able to express ourselves realistically in our writing or identify with how others write using these emotions.

Personally, I feel blessed to be able to love deeply enough to have a battered and scarred heart. Scar tissue is stronger than the original tissue and is a testament to life.

If you’d like to read the amazing blog written by Chelsea, Rene’s fiancée, here it is.

http://cultivatebalance.ca/the-gift-of-the-night-before/

So tell me, how has life affected your writing, or do you have a favourite author, whose emotional writing you can identify with?

PRAISE FOR THE DOZY AND DISTRACTED!

Sweat trickles down my back as I haul away at weeds in my yard. I glance up at my neighbour reading on his deck above me. He spends hours a day, every day, in the same place doing the same thing. I frown and grumble to myself. If it wasn’t for the seeds from his weeds wafting across the street, my job would have been a lot easier this summer.

But then again, to be at my best and most creative self, doing a mindless task, like gardening, is something I need. My brain functions much better when given time to let my mind wander. Problems like figuring out a solution to plotting a story, or settling family issues are solved with an hour or so in the garden. Or on a walk, or in the shower, or dusting, or…

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It’s as if the solutions to my problems have been worked out by my subconscious, but due to stimuli of all kinds, the subconscious can’t spit out the solutions. But when my mind wanders, or is even bored, up bubbles the solutions to my issues. It’s like I have to reset and refresh my brain, like my laptop. Happily, I found an article that substantiates my claims.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/02/27/when-being-distracted-good-thing/1AYWPlDplqluMEPrWHe5sL/story.html

Meditation of all kinds have been used throughout our history for many purposes. I have run across a couple of different meditation techniques and for the most part, they relax and center me, much the same way as gardening (or walking etc.) Personally, I need about an hour a day of just vegging somehow and letting the stresses loosen their hold on me. I am by nature, an active person, constantly, on the go. But later in my years, I’ve realized that to be at the peak of my creative potential, my brain needs to be sidelined a few times to get some rest.

And to admit to having to be dozy and distracted is hard for me, but alas necessary.

And want to know a deep dark secret? I also find youtube videos a distraction! (I do like the horse ones and the cat ones!) But moderation is key! I know if I haven’t had some down time, I allow myself a few just to veg for a few minutes. Okay more than a few…

What are your ‘go to’ mindless tasks that relax you, and let the creative parts of you bubble up to the surface?

Never Too Crazy to Read

The past four months have been the craziest of my life.

Take one couple’s residential pack-up and a move nearly 500 miles spanning three states, traveling in a small sedan with four dogs weighing a total of 130 lbs., and you have the setup.

movingboxes

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Yet, mentally and physically exhausted at night, I continued my habit of reading a novel for at least a half-hour or more before falling asleep. Fiction took me by the hand and led me into worlds far removed from the stress of boxes crowding every room, dozens of accounts requiring changes, and last-minute veterinarian and doctor visits. Each fictional world–even an unfamiliar one–felt more normal than the real one I lived in and gave me a short period of peace and relaxation.

I’ve always loved books, but their priority struck me when I made a note (on one of many lists) to be sure to include my Kindle in the car with essential personal items in case the moving van arrived late at the new house. It was critical that I immediately have something good to read.

When I hear someone say life’s too crazy and there’s no time to read, I smile a gentle little smile and hope one day that person will discover the truth.

During which difficult times did you find solace in a book?

A Rainbow Kind of Day

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It’s been a rainbow kind of day.
Not the kind that have been splattered across social media of late.
No.

You know what I speak of:
a spring day when a fine mist falls from the sky,
the clouds are dark and menacing,
yet the sun is still out.
A perfect day for a stunning rainbow.

I am at home in bed due to a brutal cold,
sadly missing my friend from high school’s wedding. 😦

This day is filled with a deep sadness,
crammed into the nooks and crannies,
hiding in the shadows.
My church is packed to say goodbye to Walt Hartholt after a year and a half fight with cancer.
Thankfully the church is streaming the service so I can still partake.

Walt was active in the community,
father, husband, principal, teacher and mentor.
He touched so many peoples lives  there is now a hole where he used to be.
There is a deep sadness at his passing.
But as I hear his family and close friends speak about his faith.
About his conviction that “God is good” even through this season.
I am struck by God’s faithfulness.

Through the sorrow and rain of today,
God’s rainbow, His faithfulness, stretches across generations.

Lately,
I’ve felt like my life has been filled with bad news:
friends losing a child,
parents dying before they see their children grown,
families splitting.

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It is enough to make me only see the dark clouds,
to feel the weight of the world and all its sin on my shoulders.

When I heard how Walt, even through the pain,
remembered God’s goodness and faithfulness.
This reminder filled my heart with joy.

Thank you Walt for this final gift.
That even through the trials and pains of this world,
as Christians our joy through it all remains like bedrock.

Like a rainbow,
more beautiful for the dark clouds behind.

“God is good…
it is well with my soul.”

Please feel free to share your “dark clouds” in the comment section below or just ask for prayer. I’d love to pray for you!

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck