help

The LEGO Perspective

In my mid 20’s I was kind of a jerk.

I was that “kid” who wanted a kid that thought, “Well when I have a kid…” and could name half a dozen reasons why I’d make it all look so easy.

So basically… the universe is laughing it’s ass off at me.

As it turns out kids don’t come with a manual the way my food processor did. In fact, the only thing in life i am ABSOLUTELY sure of is that when I think I have something figured out, THAT is the exact moment I’ve screwed up.

My son is eight. He is very perceptive and in touch with his feelings. We’re navigating the process of overcoming hurt feelings, being a good sport, identifying strengths and accepting weaknesses. And most importantly, taking responsibility for our actions. And with every one of those moments, I can’t help but pray I’m handling them right.

Parenting is no joke! On one hand, the mama bear in me wants to lunge toward anyone who looks at my kid funny. On the flip side, I recognize we’re approaching the part of life where character is built. I’m fully aware we have days ahead where someone will make a comment about his glasses, the gap in his teeth, or being picked last. I hope to raise a young man with compassion for others. I hope I use these moments to help him draw from these seemingly unimportant events to always be there for others.

I stepped on a lego tonight. Parents, you know that pain! For some reason, my mind went to my son with thoughts I didn’t expect. I didn’t have chosen words race through my mind. I had compassion. It was God’s funny little way of helping me keep perspective. We have so many amazing things ahead of us! Yet help us all not forget how small something can look on the outside yet feel so big to the one walking through it.

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Mommy Fuel

To the mom at pick up:

Hi. We don’t know each other. I have a feeling we’re more alike than we realize. For starters, I imagine you’re pretty tired. Did you rush here to pick up your little with as much excitement as you felt when you dropped them off this morning?

Me too. Free at last!

“Free at last!” can mean so many things! Maybe you’re at home with the younger kids or doing the laundry and errands to simply make life simple when your husband comes home. Maybe you’re rushing off to a board meeting, leisurely off to the gym, or maybe you’re battling depression alone all day.

I love nothing else more in this life than my son. My only child. My only four eyed, combed hair, argumentative son. But man… does he wear me OUT!

Don’t act like you can’t relate! You aren’t alone.

I’ve always said being a parent is the hardest job you will ever love. Don’t believe me? Would you give up everything in a second for them but you’re constantly tired and finding fuel in places you didn’t know existed?

Let’s credit our littles with unknowingly forcing us to find parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. That’s some powerful mommy fuel they’ve given us!

Recently I’ve done my best to look at people around me and have a glass half full. I’ve focused more on what we could share rather than how we are different. The word “differences” is often used in a reason for divorce. Irreconcilable differences. I’m looking for more reasons in my life to connect to people than push them away.

Look for the connections. It’s powerful.

A Quest for Peace

2018 is here but I’ll be writing 2017 until June as per the usual. If you stumbled upon my blog in 2017, you know it was a hell of a year for me. Most of it I was in the dreaded “fake it till you make it phase.” I made it. Sometimes barely but I’m here and standing.
There are good people that unfortunately got the worst of me. I owe apologies to some of you. I think life has finally leveled out for me. I was blessed enough to wrap up the year with a life changing trip to Africa over Thanksgiving. And boy, did it ever change my life. But now what?
I want peace. 
But what does that mean exactly? It likely has a different definition for each of us. Having peace from struggles and bondage we manage to walk through life with will be different. We’re all human. We all fail. I think failing forward is something to celebrate though.
Why do I want peace?
I came out of the womb struggling. Literally. The cord was wrapped around my neck. I’m stubborn so I managed to wedge my foot in between the cord and my neck. That likely saved my life. That same perseverance has saved my life both physically and emotionally time and time again.
I want peace so badly because I finally felt it in Africa. I’ve never felt it so powerful and obvious. I vividly remember a moment where I stood at the top of a hill at a school. With my back turned to instruments being played, singing and laughter, I took in the greenest rolling hills I’d ever seen.  I was finally alone. Tears filled my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of peace. Excluding the absence of my son, I could have taken a one way ticket and stayed until my welcome was worn out.
Let me paint a more clear picture. This is day four of our journey. At this point I had spent days feeling guilty for where I was blessed enough to rest my head each night. I had a clean pillow and a mattress. I had windows. A lock on my door. And an actual toilet. I had just gifted a child I connected with a mosquito net. When she realized what was happening she gave me the most fierce hug I had ever felt.
How do I get that peace? Here. In America. In Dallas.
What I’m finding is in our busy lives here, it’s more about evaluating what is in our lives first. Personally, I can’t possibly add in something else to my life without removing some things. Ask yourself a few questions. Is this bringing me joy? Peace? How is it enriching my life? If you don’t have a valid response, opting out of it may not be a bad option. Let’s take social media as an example. (Ironic I know since I’m writing a blog that is shared via social media… stay with me though.) If you removed yourself from all social media, do you think you would be as connected to your current group of loved ones or friends? What percentage of the relationship is part of the “fakebook” world? I’m not dissing social media as much as it may seem.  It’s more of a personal inventory. Am I pouring my energy into what I should in my life? If I answer honestly, no. No I’m not.
What’s the plan?
My plan is simple. Delete my social media for one month. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. After one month I’ll write about what I’ve learned, what I miss about it, and how it’s affected my life mentally, physically and spiritually. I plan to spend more time taking care of myself. More time in prayer and reflecting on where I am. Sitting in silence and taking in life isn’t a bad thing. It’s often quite difficult to do for this small town girl in a big city. I’m always on the go as I juggle being a single mom, employee, friend, and my sometimes nonexistent love life. However, I think if I just slow down and take in what’s actually happening in my life, I’ll find more of what brings peace to the world around us that so many of us miss daily.

I’m Right Where I’m Supposed To Be

Someone recently shared a song that embodied everything I was needing in that moment. The title of the song itself spoke to me. I’ve been feeling very comfortable in my own skin and where I am in life. I’ve had an increasing sense of self awareness. I’ve realized that I am in fact exactly where I’m supposed to be. That’s a feeling you can’t put a price tag on and it has come only after a series of waves through very rocky waters.

Even considering my level of comfort in my simple yet beautiful life, I know something is missing. I have no idea when the last piece to the puzzle will come together. I find the process to be beautiful yet often uncomfortable.

For the first time in my life, I am truly being open about my knack for failing forward. I’m finding that it’s the only way for me to save my sanity and remain in control of my feelings. I’m not hiding behind anything anymore. It’s been so encouraging to read older posts and see how far I’ve come. I can’t even begin to thank those close to me for loving me through my failures and celebrating my successes. 

I’ve danced around writing about what I’ve been through. I’ve told half truths, omitted details, and been vague. My intent has never been to mislead people or hurt someone. It has been the result of shame and embarrassment. And that stops today. 

I’ve been married twice. I married my son’s father at a young age and that likely doesn’t need much explanation. I waited many years to get remarried. I thought I was the luckiest girl alive to have found him. I thought I had everything. I can assure you, the smile on my face was absolutely real and full of love and hope. 

I failed. We failed. He left on a Tuesday. I got a text message saying, “I won’t be here when you get home.” My thought was he had an appointment. After clarifying, I immediately bolted from my office in tears heading straight to my house. As the color left my skin, I absorbed the reality of what was happening. It felt like every dream I had with him was being thrown with haste into those suitcases. I begged. I cried. I fell apart. I watched him back out of the drive way. I watched the gate close. And that was it. Three hours later I walked to the school to pick up my son. I still wonder how well I hid my pain from him. 

It took me weeks to share my failure with my mom and best friend. I remember sitting in my living room with my best friend and saying my biggest fear was not making it out of it and still being a good person. I’ve had pain in my life but this was larger than life. 

I’m really sharing this story with the hope it will help even one person pull through a really dark time. I can honestly say that I’ve had a more beautiful life since my divorce. I’ve been shown more grace than I thought possible. I’m so humbled and thankful for every person in my life. I’ve realized how strong I am and I feel proud of that. 

I spent days crying in the bathtub for hours. I felt humiliated, devastated, angry, confused, and scared. I finally decided I wouldn’t let someone cheat my son and me of the beautiful life we deserved. I threw myself into anything and everything positive I could get my hands on. I took a volunteer position with the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce as Vice President of Philanthropy. I began volunteering in our city and that quickly put my life into perspective. As a result I’ve found a space that is comfortable and beautiful with love. 

I love thinking about something that is making me happy right now and tracing the steps backwards to find how I got to that place. I can honestly say that everything I love about my life right now happened because of something that felt devastating in the moment. There is always light at the end of the tunnel even if it takes a minute to find it. Reaching out for help is courageous. 

Thoughtful Thursday 

“Learn to be thankful for what you have while pursuing what you want.”

2017 has been a year full of change. I set out with the goal to be humble and grateful regardless of the many changes I have been adjusting to. Without a doubt, this year I have been more aware of the need to be vocal to those I appreciate. Overall, I’ve made a conscious effort to be grateful for the daily things that make life so great. 

Don’t forget to tell people how much you appreciate them. It takes just a moment but lift their spirits in a way you didn’t know they needed.


Don’t forget to submit your thoughts to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

Thoughtful Thursday

Summer is here and I love it! More than anything I enjoy being more relaxed in the evenings with my son. I’m not stressed out with the hustle from work to pick him up only to rush home to realize I have nothing to cook for dinner. On a school night, this is when I realize we’re now an hour behind schedule if we expect to get homework done, play, shower, prepare for tomorrow and read a book all before waking up to do the same thing all over again.

Our evenings during the summer leave me feeling much more like the mom I dream of being. A mom who always lives in the moment. A mom who seems to exude joy while picking the few weeds in her immaculate yard and waving lovingly to each passerby.

I seem to hear his giggles more clearly and the hugs are a bit sweeter. There are games on the patio, hanging out with neighbors, swimming, biking, ice cream and staying up too late. Summer is filled with all of the moments we hope our children will replay in their minds as they remember their childhood.

I’m guilty of filling my plate too full more often than I’d probably like to admit. And I’m certain I’ve missed an extra hug here and there with my son. However, others in our lives that are incredibly important need us to slow down for them too. It may be a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is stressed out from the daily happenings that can wear us down. You never know when slowing down for someone and simply asking how they are could really change the momentum in their life.

XO
Don’t forget to submit your warm thoughts and questions to info@adventureswithalley.com to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

My Visit to Jonathan’s Place:Break the Cycle, Not Her Heart.

Some of you may know I’m involved with the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce. I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for. My life recently has had some serious stress that I can’t control. What I did know is that I needed something positive to put my energy into. (Cue Beyonce’s “I’m a Survivor” anthem.) Along with the position came a lot of responsibility. Philanthropy is something our community needs. But what I think about most is who won’t be helped if I fail or don’t try hard enough. 

This feeling was intensified when I paid a visit to Jonathan’s Place. Our organization has worked with them many times but being a new face I felt I needed to really absorb what they did first hand. I got more than a brief tour and a counselor telling me they need construction paper and bed sheets.

The first building we entered was the home of 7 young girls. The girls who live there have endured traumatizing sexual abuse. Stories I can’t repeat. Stories that shook me to my core and gave me chills. We all know this is happening, even in our backyard. What I wasn’t prepared for was to be standing in this beautiful girls bedroom and to stare at her precious face in photos as I heard how her innocence had been taken from her repeatedly. 

She’s beautiful. Her smile is bright. I could almost hear her laughter. Yet I know the pain she’s hiding from the world. She wakes up every morning and attends public school. She sits next to a “normal” girl who has a “real” home to go to when the bell rings. That “normal” girl doesn’t fear being an object to a monster that should love and protect her. She goes home to a house full of other girls who share her same tragic story.

So often this story repeats itself. I witnessed this during my visit. I walked through the emergency shelter. I saw two children. A boy and a girl. The little girl was probably about 2. I asked about their stories. I was told about the boy’s life. He was beautiful and reminded me of my own son. The little girl was just as wonderful. I heard her story shortly before her mother walked in. I was told the little girl’s mother was a 16 year old who lives in the house I had just toured. A mother at 14. She had been raped repeatedly by a family member. She sought love in all the wrong places and became pregnant. This is the cycle Jonathon’s Place is dedicated to breaking.

I’m so glad I visited Jonathan’s Place. I’m hopeful as I make plans this year for our organization that I remember those stories. After all, that’s what it’s about. Being a voice for those can’t speak for themselves. Making a difference by pulling together as a community. It’s so convenient for many of us to fly through life without realizing the pain some people face. I’ve been guilty myself. 

For more information about Jonathan’s Place and how you can help, check out: http://www.jpkids.org