Have you ever seen an 8’ tall octopus made out of the trash we are putting into our oceans? What about an eagle with a 17’ wingspan? I have. And while my artist heart sings at the beauty of these sculptures my environmental heart is breaking at the eye opening amount of trash that is making it into our oceans. Truthfully there are things making it to our oceans that I couldn’t have even fathomed winding up there. Everything from toothbrushes to motorcycle helmets to pregnancy tests. Not to mention the absurd amount of flip flops, discarded coolers, and water bottles.
An organization called Washed Ashore is raising awareness through art. To date they have processed 60,000 lbs of plastic and have created some magnificent sculptures to entertain the eye while educating us on what is going into the sea. The exhibit is currently on display in Galveston (through March 5th) and the city turned it into something fun. You can “check in” at each sculpture and when you have seen 9 of the 20 you can submit it to the visitors center for some Galveston swag. We didn’t really care about the swag but searching out the sculptures took us to parts of the island even my 30 year island loving heart hadn’t been. We had tons of fun doing this but it set my brain whirring.
Irving has reduced it’s trash pick up day to once a week and really doesn’t promote doing recycling. I live in a neighborhood that I have several neighbors who still loyally put out their blue bags (yeah!) but since I wasn’t sure if they were actually making it to a recycling center I was hesitant. Let’s face it – it DOES take work to reduce your footprint on the environment. Much like eating organic or cutting down on driving to help pollution – it takes concentrated effort to recycle. You have to rinse food items off plastic or metal you are recycling, break down boxes, and know what can and can’t be recycled.
But something about these sculptures this weekend reminded me how very important that effort is. As a marine life lover we’re feeding our animals trash! Why do the marine animals that are part of the circle of life that feed us and sustain us deserve that? Being frank – if it’s going in their bodies it’s going into ours in some form or fashion.
Back to what can I do different? While Tim and I were talking we sat and we ordered a dual trash can that will allow us to easily get trash where it goes and recyclable materials in those precious blue bags. Doing some research I realized that the food we throw away in the trash winds up in landfills creating gas that is getting into the air. So we also are going to begin composting again. I did this years ago and enjoyed it – just gotta get set back up again.
Full disclosure: I was already on the beginnings of a composting kick.
I fully admit I contribute to the water bottle problem. With the things I put in my water grabbing one and going is easiest. I am the chief supplier of water to the office – also in the form of plastic water bottles. We’ve resolved to get a Brita filter for the fridge and switch over to a reusable water bottle when at home or at the office. If we have to use plastic on the go we’ll be able to recycle it when we get home.
None of these feel like big enough changes to help with the size of the problem I saw on display this weekend but I know that if I make a small change and every other person who saw what I saw makes a change it WILL bring change. I could write a book on all the ways our oceans and marine life are in trouble but I’ll instead just ask that you check out the site and make any small changes you can to protect the world we live in.
Another year has gone by…on Friday I’ll be another year older. Wiser? Eh, in ways… The changes in my life between July 1st 2021 and now are too many to list. A year ago today I was in Memphis with Bev. Exploring Graceland for the first time. Learning about Elvis and not having any idea I was interested…left with a hunger to return. Even then not seeing the running I was doing to avoid the work I needed to be doing. Healing from the inside out – looking hard at where you are broken – is time consuming and challenging. But worth EVERY minute of the work. Life is so much bigger when you can look beyond yourself…
Sometime in the last year I found a peace inside that you can’t understand until you find it. Not a mediating yoga statue kind of peace but an I’m ok, life is ok, and everything is gonna work out kind of peace. Is everything in my world perfect? Nope. I miss my son. Always will but am proud as hell he’s living his journey his way. I didn’t learn to do that until 40+ years old. Has life moved on past a point I couldn’t see a year ago? Yep. A year ago I didn’t know who I was outside of Lee & Em’s mom and Fred’s widow. I didn’t have a real relationship with my oldest kiddo. I lived to work before and now I work to live. Sad, really, as I think about it now but I had absolutely no idea who the hell I was. My life revolved around other people. My existence was to serve others. I was used to being the nucleus of other’s worlds. When those roles didn’t exist anymore – not in a full time need to be fulfilled way – what the heck?
What I found, through counseling and prayer, was someone inside that I kind of dig. I found my girls. I found the parts of me I can see in them that I was missing before. I have some cool as hell daughters y’all! I found sunshine again. I found someone to love me who I love deeply. I found a heart that wasn’t broken beyond repair – it just needed some work. I found a heart that can love deeper when it’s healthy than it ever could when it was scarred and traumatized.
But more than all of that I found a voice. I found the wild child inside that wants to drive a Jeep and have crazy adventures and be unapologetic about it. The woman inside who was too afraid people wouldn’t like her if they saw THAT woman. That woman lives forefront now. You may not like all of my decisions but I live by what I believe is right and by what I, me, myself and no one else has to live with. What I think matters. What I have to say may piss you off but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. I could light a fire under a lot of people with issues I’ve found I am deeply passionate about.
But back to Friday. Birthdays wig me out. There is some trauma that is still there from childhood (my parents sucked!). But already the love and thoughtfulness Tim and the girls have shown has made this year different. It stinks Tim and I will be apart on our birthday (did I mention we share a birthday?!?)…but it’s been a special day already. I’ve got a big week planned with people I love dearly and that, my friends, is what life is all about.
Live LOUD peeps. Life is too short to do anything but!
It may be as simple as you buy the laundry detergent your mom always used. Using the same kind of pens your first boss did (twenty years ago). Or never doing XYZ because someone important to you told you not to. Can you think of something you “always/never” do that you never stopped to think about why or that you just accepted as a fact without asking yourself why?
I ran smack into a couple of those this weekend. Let me explain. I’ve been watching the value of my Suburban for some time now with this crazy car economy. Wanting to get out of it at the end of the warranty and while I could get dang near as much as I paid for it (!). Then gas prices skyrocketed and I watched 25% of the value evaporate seemingly overnight last week. 🙄
Cue the tedious task of car shopping. In my family “we hate Fords”. Couldn’t tell you when or why that started but it’s a knowledge I grew up with from my grandpa. Yet – I felt myself drawn to the new Bronco’s. Went to look at those Saturday and that was a disaster story for another day and suffice to say – I still hate Fords. But the sporty feeling of the Bronco was clearly a Jeep knock off. The words that came out of my mouth were “I can’t have a Jeep”. The response I got was “why”.
“Fred said I can’t” – my answer
Awkward silence. Ummm. Yah. Invisible boundary. Rule I live(d) by without question. Fred’s reason, I knew, is that I drive like a crazy person and Jeep’s roll. But alas, I am a grown person capable of a) slowing the hell down and b) deciding what kind of car I want. I also wanted a truck. Because I love my yard and if you had ever seen what I hauled in that Suburban you would understand why I needed a truck. But a truck didn’t get me away from the reason I was moving away from the suburban…a gas guzzling beast of a vehicle.
A trip to the Jeep dealership landed me in wild never before thought of territory. A Jeep Gladiator. The very car I made fun of as “a Jeep that swallowed a truck and didn’t fully digest it”. 😬 But oooohhh it rides high enough that this short girl can see. Aaaahhhh it’s sporty. Ummmmm it has a truck bed. Well hell. It also comes in my favorite color – OCEAN BLUE. Dang it.
Meet my new gal. Currently being referred to as “Dory”. As in Finding Nemo. Not sure that’s the final name but sure is sticking so far.
When I say I went from one end of the emotional spectrum and back like I have NEVER on buying a car – geez. I was almost daring that dang sales guy to not giving me what I wanted for the suburban. Buying Dory meant crossing the invisible boundary in my mind laid by Fred about owning a Jeep. It meant letting go of driving a Suburban. Fred and I’s long time goal car and what I have driven since he died. Saying goodbye to driving a “mom” car and all the years spent shuffling kids and friends and STUFF everywhere. Saying goodbye really to that chapter of my life and this being another step towards this next chapter I’ve been working on for two years. It was dang hard.
With Tim’s sweet patient style and a few tears I got it done. And my challenge for you today is to ask yourself what you do in your life that is just because you “always” have. Or because it’s an invisible boundary someone (or you) laid for you. And then cross it. Big or small.
We only keep growing when we keep pushing ourselves. It’s hard. It takes work. Frankly it can suck eggs. But’s it’s what makes life interesting.
It’s no secret I’ve been in deep period of pain and self discovery the last couple of years. Long overdue grieving for the loss of my grandpa and my husband. Staring down the question of “who am I” when not defined by titles like mother or wife. I am damn proud of how far I’ve come. I haven’t done it alone and I know that. This very outlet had been part of the journey.
Lately I’ve been restless. Feeling disconnected from my faith. Questioning the growth. Losing my identity as an independent a bit as I’ve become part of an “us” again (def no regrets there!). I’ve recently begun listening to an audio book that has provoked some deep thinking.
I had an opportunity this weekend to share some of the feelings bubbling up with someone I trust implicitly with my thoughts. Between those conversations, my book, and what I believe is answered prayer I finally think I’m understanding where the restless is coming from.
I’ve reached a point in self discovery I could choose to be satisfied. OR this cliff I am standing on….the one that I can’t see ground below because it’s dark…I could choose to go over it and dig deeper. To return to the faith the distractions of life are pulling me from and hear what God was guiding me towards. I’ve done a lot of work. But I’ve also just stuck some of the feelings that are too painful in a box and put them on a shelf – compartmentalizing as the counselor calls it – and hoping to forget about them.
I kid you not….as I am writing this my bible app sent me this verse. Does it get any clearer than that?
It’s time to go over the cliff. To truly forgive those who have caused me pain and to forgive myself when I haven’t been the person I wanted to be. Yesterday is past and can only continue to hurt you if you can’t let go of it. It’s time to open the box, sort the feelings, and finish the journey. It’s time to love myself enough to finish the healing.
For those who have held my hand this far – I love you. I wouldn’t be on this planet today without you.
Choose you. Choose to believe that if you go over the cliff God will catch you.
My counselor says that I am bad at seeing life as all or nothing. At LIVING life as all or nothing. Examples. Life is all good or it’s in shambles. I have to be perfect at my diet, exercise, work, etc or I am a failure. I have to be the best at how I do everything or I am letting down those closest to me. I have to love the best and do everything for everyone no matter what the effect on me.
Two years of counseling later and I still struggle with it. But have learned the signs of the rabbit hole enough to *sometimes* prevent myself from falling down it. Or at least enough to prevent myself from exhausting myself trying to be everything to everyone and putting my own needs last.
Here’s is the thing about all or nothing. That’s the same as black or white. But! Life is shades of gray. It’s messy and smudgy and requires a tree to bend in the wind lest it break.
It’s being patient when you’ve dieted good all week but eat a plate of Mexican food on Friday night. Diet isn’t over – you just had a treat. It’s getting back on the exercise plan after a week of coming straight home from work and watching TV and having popcorn for dinner because work is insane. It’s forgiving those closest to you for being inconsiderate and hateful instead of compassionate and kind. It’s giving someone the benefit of the doubt who you have only seen at their worst.
Living at extremes isn’t a healthy place for me. Living day in and day out terrified of my world changing caused me to hold on too tight. Finding balance, finding the gray, is still a daily challenge. Keeping a brain that is used to handling the worst life has to offer from going first to the dark place and never thinking of a positive alternative is hard as hell.
But learning that you are never too old to change? Definitely worth it.
“Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.”
Never stop learning y’all. Never stop believing in yourself. In humanity. In the power to change yourself and that better things are on the horizon.
Gabby Barrett has a song that the melody has been playing over and over in my head the last few days…the lyrics speaking truth over a blessing God put in my life I wasn’t expecting and certainly didn’t feel I would be blessed with.
“A love me like he should one Like he wrote the book one The kind you find when you don’t even look one Anybody can be good once But he’s good all the time He’s one of the good ones And he’s all mine He’s one of the good ones”
I haven’t been shy about sharing the painful journey my life has been the last few years. I don’t plan on being shy about the amazing way that with a prayer, a lot of work, and faith God turned my world right side up again.
Fred made me promise I would find love again. I told him we only get one love in life and I had had mine. That I would never open myself up again to that kind of vulnerability or pain. My pastors sermon this last week was on what God does with “never”. I’ve said never about a lot of things in my life…😳
Two months ago a man who has a passion for travel that I do, who is as much a dog lover as I am, who shares love of dark chocolate, the ocean, and has a heart the size of Texas chose me. Me!
The days since then have flown by. We’ve got a bucket list that just keeps growing. The smile on my face when he walks into a room could supply electricity to most of the eastern seaboard. My brain is having a little trouble with the switch from survivor to thriving but he (and my tribe!) supports me through all that.
He is patient when I am down. He is thoughtful and kind. He never shies away when I mention Fred and understands how that chapter of my life shaped who I am today. He makes my detail oriented self look disorganized because he is always on top of things. But most importantly ours is a partnership. We work to share the load of whatever is going on – fun or mess – together.
Guess you can tell I think he’s kind of awesome. I’ve been blessed. If you are still single, have faith. There are still good ones. If you snagged one – hug ‘em tight. Life is short and precious. ❤️
I’ve heard all my life people say “what a difference a year makes”. Thought it was horse poo quite honestly. But 2021 was that year for me!
I started 2021 broken. Angry. Scared. Grieving. Did I mention angry? Sheesh. My whole world was flipped upside down. I couldn’t see daylight. I certainly never dreamed I would be where I sit today. Is everything perfect today? Nope. Would be lying if I said otherwise. Is it light years beyond this time last year? In every way conceivable.
Many things make up the changes. My counselor would tell you it was my own hard work. My brain would tell you it was my counselor and my tribe never leaving my side until I was steady…and unrelenting prayer. In 2021 I finished two prayer journals and reading back through them you can literally see the progression of my year. From prayers to survive the day, to prayers for my children’s health and safety, to the now thankful prayers for my blessings that start every day. 2021 took me to my knees and God was there.
I learned a lot about myself this year. I was reminded (again) that God made me a survivor and no one, not even my own family, can break me. I learned I have a voice and I am free to use it – and what it has to say will not always be liked and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I have to silently hurt.
I learned there are very bad people in this world who prey on people who are hurting (the dating world is an ugly place y’all) but with prayer God will put the right one right in front of you. I learned that despite years of telling myself people are lucky if they get one love that is not, in fact, the case if you open your heart and mind to God’s plan for your life.
Most importantly I learned happiness comes from the inside. It is not a result of anyone or anything. No one can bring you happiness or make you happy if you don’t do the work on yourself. They may make you feel that way for a short time but true overwhelming can’t stop smiling joy comes from a place inside where you have done the work on yourself and understand yourself. THAT is the biggest lesson 2021 leaves me with. I’ll never depend on another to bring me happiness. I will enjoy having a partner to share happiness, joy, and adventure with but will never lose sight of what I need to do for myself to take care of me. That doesn’t make me selfish or self centered or any of the other “self” derogatory labels – it makes me healthy and whole.
Blessings in 2022 y’all. It’s gonna be filled with love, laughter, and adventure in my world.
Everyone seems to hit their highest point of stress in the month that is supposed to be all Hallmark movie level joy and bliss. Overbooked calendars, to do lists a mile long, shorter days with higher demands for our time….December can leave us feeling grouchy, wrung out, and counting the days to get past the “blessed” holiday season. (Unless you are one of those who has a person in your life who does all the listed above while you just still back and LOVE all things Christmas and wonder why everyone is so over it.)
In our world December is chock full of emotional land mines to add to those lovely predicted societal stressors. December brings memories of past joyous moments with someone who is no longer here. Birthdays of both the girl kind and Fred. Christmas Day which, to be quite honest, is the crowning jewel of “hurry up and get them over with” days. The smallest things can suck any one of us, but most especially Em and I, right down the rabbit hole.
This year December is proving thus far to be a mixed bag of blessings. Admittedly a rough start, we lost Gabe last Friday. Old age and poor health just required that it was time and there was no avoiding it any longer. For me, it stirred up a storm of memories of how he came to be a family member and various things he did that made him special.
But so far December has also graced me with more joy than I have had in a long time. A new special person in my life is making the hard times a little easier. Plans for things we want to do in December are shining light on the calendar instead of darkness and dread. I even decked the halls (where I safely could out of dog reach) without kid guilt or begging.
I have spent a long time praying over moving forward in my life. Asking for someone who could replace the sorrow with happiness and laughter. It seems fitting to me that God chose to answer that prayer at the beginning of one of the hardest months of the year for me….maybe saying it’s time for December to be about Him, the birth of His son, and the joy of the season instead of sorrow and tears. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m choosing to look forward not back and it’s looking so merry and bright. ❤
I have long believed that there are places that live in our heart that, when given the chance to return there, fill your happy tank in a way that is indescribable. Hot Springs as a whole is one of those places but within that magic town is a winding road up to the mountain tower. It’s tradition for our family to drive it before we head out of town. It’s also become tradition to take more than a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the area.
For me, today, this road had a different message. Today I could see the connection between this winding road and the path I’ve been on the last few years. I could appreciate the beauty of the landscape that masks the possibility of falling right over the steep edge. How many times have I fallen off the edge as I’ve worked on healing? How many times have I failed to appreciate the beauty that lies even in the fear and the pain? Too many to count.
Today I saw a road to follow that you can’t see the destination. I just have to start down it and have faith that around each corner or dip in the road that same road is still under me and in front of me carrying me to the next destination. I know that some of the positive message I took from this place is a reflection of the peaceful happy place I have reached in my heart but somehow it feels bigger than that.
How many time do we deviate from the path because we focus on one of the tiny details on the side of the road instead of having faith in the road we’re on? Faith is a hard thing sometimes. As humans we think we can fix, control, or change things that are out of our control. The reality is that we can’t change a thing. We have to put our faith in God and the road ahead no matter how hard.
The road I am on now has me focused on the future. On chasing dreams and having a life filled with joy and laughter. Letting go of the illusion that I could change anything about the road God set me on has cracked open my heart so wide it’s breathtaking.
Don’t be afraid of the road. Have faith and just start the journey. It’ll make you happier than you could ever dream of if you focus on the beauty instead of the pain.
We’ve all been around those people who seem to have it all going their way. On top of that they are cheerleaders for life. Their social media reads like a motivation app. The little voice in your head screams “NO ONE IS THAT HAPPY. PUT TOGETHER. POSITIVE ALL THE TIME”. You are right. They aren’t.
As someone who used to flip past those messages as fast as I could, because they annoyed me, I can honestly say I used to think “I wish just once you’d post about having a bad day.” It’s not that we wish ill on them. It’s that we want to know they are human like us. That they hurt. That they tripped on the way out the door and had to wear a coffee stain all day. That the gorgeous dish in the photo took three attempts to get just right. Heck, even that they would misspell a word would make us feel better.
What I am learning as I dig into this season of self discovery in my life is that those messages aren’t trying to nauseate us all. Ok, there are probs some fakers out there but I’m speaking about the good humanity I believe in as a whole. Speaking for myself, I have been surrounded in the last year by faith, apps, books, and truly good people that have encouraged me to change my way of thinking. To receive a positive motivation on my app, feel it deeply, and want nothing more than to pay it forward. It may not be as well received as the coffee I paid for for the guy behind me but the intent is the same.
Ghandi told us “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It is said that Ghandi’s full intended meaning behind the saying was to set an example and implement the right kind of changes in order to make the world a beautiful place. Left, right, polka dotted, yellow, or striped I think we all agree where the world is at this very minute could use a little change. No matter how small.
BE the change WE want to see in the world.
The best thing we can do when we read or hear things that touch our heart or that change US is share it with others. So the next time that inclination to flip on by comes over ya, I dare ya to stop and read instead. The message just might be something you needed at that exact moment to change YOUR world.
And there is nothing falsely positive about that at all. It’s just positively beautiful.