My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Another Gratitude Post: Day 18 (Alternatively titled “Lice: A Hate Story”)

This is the getting to the end of the gratitude posts I started in November. I’m so terrible at keeping commitments. I’m great at keeping commitments that have some bearing on life: I remember to pay water bills (most of the time), I regularly keep track of when I need to pick up my kids, and I frequently remember to have food in the fridge. But remembering birthdays, keeping track of what I said I’d do for someone two weeks ago, finding time to exercise? Not my strong suit.

However, I have a source of gratitude: Our family is lice-free. While this may seem like an everyday occurrence to many, it’s a reason for celebration around here.

I remember when I lived in Nepal, working as a volunteer with a Jesuit volunteer organization. My roommate and I would say something that we were thankful for every night around the dinner table. After spending a lot of time adjusting to the diet and various bouts of bacterial dysentery, a frequent source of gratitude was our Health. You see, when you are often healthy, health is taken for granted. Likewise, when you are free of bugs in your hair, you don’t think to stop and be grateful for your parasite-free head.

My daughter--with a head full of Nix--on Christmas Eve Eve

My daughter–with a head full of Nix–on Christmas Eve Eve

When you KNOW you have lice, you have a few options. I didn’t know all of those options then and I wasn’t about to be delayed by my internet searches, so I ran straight to the local drugstore, talked with the pharmacist (who acted bored, quite frankly), and bought some permethrin-laced pesticide that would kill those blasted bugs.

In retrospect, slathering a known neurotoxin all over our heads was not the best way to celebrate Christmas, but it was a bonding experience. If I had to do it all over again (saying a quick prayer right now), I would skip the $26 lice kits (yep, $26 a piece, making it a pitiful $100 purchase around Christmas-time), get at lice comb or two and bunch of good movies.

This is an image: kids on the floor, spotlight on their noggins, mom & dad carefully combing through their heads

This is the image: kids on the floor, spotlight on their noggins, mom & dad carefully combing through their heads

Where did we get the lice? I’m pretty sure, based on the 300 or so nits I pulled from her head, that Scout had them first. Her school has had a number of lice cases this year, and I can only think she must  have somehow brought them home from school. If you do your research, it’s actually not all that common to get lice from hats or keeping your jacket next to another jacket. Lice like to live on people’s heads, so they don’t hang out on the floor or the desks–they pretty much need head-to-head contact to transfer from one person to another. They cannot jump. They crawl awkwardly, and it’s sort of a mystery how Scout got it, but somehow, some way, they became part and parcel of Christmas of 2013.

That we all got it from one another is no mystery. We constantly bed share–well, our girls share a bed frequently and Cory & I share a bed–and we read stories to the girls in their bed, propped up against pillows. How was I to know that this put me right in the line of fire of those buggers? The big problem with lice, other than making you feel like a dirtball, is that they are freakishly annoying to get rid of. You must remove all the nits, and the only way to do that is by sliding the little egg sac (probably the size of a droplet of water) down the hair shaft. Did I mention that I estimate that Scout had 300 or so nits?

At first, our kids did well with the removal. “Come, sit on the floor while I pour over your head and you can watch copious amounts of TV!” But, as with anything, nitpicking got old. The kids dreaded the whole process. Then we discovered that heat can kill them–BINGO! In addition to the scalp-scraping, we then tried blasting them with the hairdryer until they begged for mercy. It’s no coincidence that my hair dryer died, and I had to get a new one.

The infestation also raised a whole host of issues that made celebrating Christmas at my parents house just a little absurd–keeping our brushes in individual ziplocks and keeping the girls hair tightly tied back in buns & ponytails during our visit. Having lice as a family is an odd situation–it’s a laugh-one-minute-cry-the-next-type of situation, at least it was for me. The kids seemed rather oblivious, thank goodness. I was like a vacuuming, laundering freak of nature for 48 hours or so.

My mom--the brave grandma--holding Ruby who is rockin' the 'up-do'

My mom–the brave grandma–holding Ruby who is rockin’ the ‘up-do’

Here’s the thing, even a parent who is with her kids 24/7 can miss the fact that her kids have bugs running around in her hair. Neither of my kids ever complained of itching, and I never saw them scratch or appear uncomfortable. For Scout, she is very independent and has been washing, rinsing, brushing and combing her hair for the past year or so. Ordinarily, she hates having her hair tied back, so I had not had that many occasions to run through her hair myself. Sure, the school sent home a flyer saying, “Someone in your child’s class has been identified with lice,” but I was the dummy that thought, “Good Heavens, I’d know if my kid had bugs in her hair!” I never even bothered checking. Big mistake. Based on the amount of nits Scout had and the average rate of egg-laying for an adult louse, I’d say she could have had the bugs for a month. A MONTH. Now, you think you had a bad a parenting day? Let me put this in perspective for you: I unknowingly let bugs crawl around in my daughter’s gorgeous, thick chestnut brown hair–and further infest our whole family--all because I assumed that I’d know if my kid had bugs in her hair.

I always say it: parenting is a humbling experience. Again and again, I am humbled. I just wish I didn’t need an expensive, time-consuming lesson like lice to teach me that I can be an arrogant jerkball. The other thing that makes you feel like an ass is that in my inattention to detail, we could have affected other families. I had to call two families that were over for playdates and alert them to the fact that their kids may now have the gift of lice–quite an unconventional Christmas gift. I sent emails to teachers, the Sunday School director and the director of Ruby’s preschool. More than anyone else in the world, I dreaded telling my mom and my brother–the two biggest cleanfreaks that I know. I actually thought my family did rather well with the news–they touched and hugged the kids anyway, isn’t that sweet?

If you’ve never had lice, then kudos to you. I checked that one off the list and I will be perfectly happy not to relive this little rite-of-passage for the school-age set. If you have an experience of lice or anything even slightly related, I’d love to hear about it. C’mon, it’s okay to come out of the lice closet.

Advertisements


Fair enough, independence seekers

It’s been a snowy winter and I can’t help feeling attached to home, wanting to hunker down and avoid the elements. The snow is gorgeous when the sun makes it sparkle just so, but today is gray and unshiny. And even when it is magical, I enjoy it through the window just fine. I’ve read books, done some crafting, drank lots of coffee and tea, enjoyed some soup, watched movies–all the many perks of a snowy winter.

AND I’ve been taking jaunts in the neighborhood–to get Scout to and from school, not for fun or anything like that.

The walk looks something like this:

IMG_4518Well, the walk looks like that when it’s a good walk. Sometimes the walk looks like this:

IMG_4542You see, it’s cold outside. And not everyone enjoys that part about the cold. For some, it would seem, Snow=fun AND Cold=misery. You can understand the conundrum, right? Feeling compelled to play in the snow, one is suddenly surprised about 15 minutes into all that fun that the white fluffy snow turns oddly harsh and uncomfortable. Ruby’s relationship with snow is further compounded by her love of  snacking on the stuff (the pretty white snow, NEVER the yellow or dirty snow). Imagine her face when she realizes the stuff is driven up her sleeves and into her boots… Well, I think you can SEE the look on her face in the above photo. 

The other day, Ruby and I were walking back from school after dropping Scout off. I was trying to keep her occupied with a quasi-snowball fight, when I noticed an elderly neighbor struggling to shovel her driveway. I asked Ruby to wait for a second while I approached this woman. I had no previous contact with this lady, and she had her back turned to me, so I tried to call out, “Excuse me” so I wouldn’t startle her. When she turned around, she was surprised (I doubt she heard me coming). Our exchange went something like this:

  • Excuse me? Can I do that for you?
  • What? [She looked mortified.] Why would I want you to do that?
  • [I probably looked rather startled.]
  • [She continued.] Well, there’s ice over there, and you could fall and slip.
  • [I glanced down at my suitable boots.] Well, all the same, I’d be happy to help you.
  • [The woman pauses.] No. I don’t want you to. I need the exercise.
  • [I back away.] Fair enough.

After this odd exchange, I turned back and collected Ruby. Ruby then said, “She didn’t want to have a snowball fight with us?”

Ruby’s sweet comment pulled me out of my fog and I laughed. We continued walking back home through the snow. All the same, I couldn’t help pondering why this communication was so abrupt and uncomfortable. I surmised that this woman must look forward to snow shovelling; perhaps shovelling snow is her greatest love in life. I tried not to take it too personally, but I had to admit: I got my feelings hurt. I am a helper/pleaser-type, and, if I’m honest, I would have really enjoyed helping this woman clear her drive. That she rebuffed my offer did sting a bit.

I shared this story with Cory, with my mom, with a close friend, and, feeling compelled by something at church, I shared it with my close-knit Crosswalk community (though, afterwards I had this regret that I shouldn’t have shared it because it didn’t really relate to what we were talking about all that much, oh well, they’re churchy people, so they have to forgive me for being tangential).

In sharing this, people seemed to have these general thoughts:

  • The lady is a crabbyappleton
  • I shouldn’t take it personally
  • Perhaps this woman is struggling with aging and she wants to assert her independence over something she can still do
  • [And my favorite] Maybe the AARP is advertising about a scam where a stranger approaches you and asks to shovel your driveway, then falls and sues you for all you’re worth

But here’s what I know, after wrestling with my ego: The exchange I had with this woman was purposeful. I’d even go so far as to say she was sent to me to deliver a powerful message. This woman was a stranger to me, and I offered her help. By suggesting that she needed help, I didn’t intend to undermine her abilities but perhaps that’s how it was perceived. When she said that she didn’t want my help, I respected that. It hurt a bit, but I respected her wishes and I backed away. Incidentally, I drove by her house later that day and saw that her entire driveway and walkway were clean as a whistle. She KNEW she could do it, she WANTED to do it, and she didn’t want my assistance.

You know who else this reminded me of?IMG_4537Yep, this girl.

My sweet girl. Scout is everything you would ever want in a little girl–sweet, kind, helpful, funny, creative–but, when she asserts her independence it is a Hummer not a VW bug coming down the street.

During the Crosswalk service that I attended, there was a parable of the 99 sheep retold as a modern parable of a Lost Emporer Penguin. The penguin was stranded far away from home and the community rallied to help it. Our pastor encouraged us to think of God’s love as the extravagant, abundant love that these strangers showered on this poor penguin, who misguidedly filled his belly with sand and required surgery to save his life.

What is life-saving to this penguin is the attentive love of those who found him stranded on the beach. But love is not limited to attention and assistance. What is life-saving to some, including my big girl, is a love that encourages her independence. My own need to “help” should not overshadow her need to assert her independence. My “helping” actually undermines her, rather than assists her.

Here’s my lesson: BACK AWAY, MOM. (In the nicest way possible.)

I must respect others autonomy and give them the space to complete their tasks without my help. I shudder to think… I’m THAT Mom, the one that hovers and tries to “help” when really I’m hindering.

Thank you, neighbor lady, for teaching me what I hope will be a valuable lesson. The extravagant, abundant love that I must give my children is to BACK OFF. This will sometimes look like allowing them to wield their own knives, wrap presents with an entire dispenser of tape, assemble their own homework packets without ever putting it in their backpacks, forget hats & gloves, dress themselves in inappropriate clothing, make a scrap heap of several reams of computer paper, make a mess in the kitchen and leave the caps off an infinite amount of markers, but it is love nonetheless.



21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 17
December 23, 2013, 10:24 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I fell off the Gratitude train. It happens. I figured that some day I’d actually get around to finishing this Gratitude Challenge… no one said that the 21 days had to be consecutive, right?

A month goes by and there is more to be thankful for. Two days away from Christmas, and we’re just hunkering down for a while. The unstructured days will lend themselves to sleeping in, crafting, travelling, reading, laughing, game playing, time together and days without any agenda whatsoever.

Recent thoughts of gratitude:

  • Fires in the fireplace
  • Watching Christmas movies while snuggling with loved ones
  • Enjoying the treats that come with the season
  • Listening to Christmas tunes and singing Christmas songs
  • Discovering Abuelita-the Mexican Hot Chocolate kit they sell in grocery stores for about $3 (What a deal!)
  • Taking in the Christmas lights that are on display

There is a bit of “Christmas-fever” at our home. Symptoms include organizing the wrapped presents under the tree, and comparing the size of the stacks. It also looks like this: hoarding several flyers from the Sunday papers, complete with lovely hand-pasted letters to send to Santa Claus.

Everyone always says Christmas is too commercial. Even St. Francis of Assisi said way back before he was a saint that Christmas had it’s problems, and he wanted people to experience Christmas differently. (Read more about that here and here.) I think about that, too. I set out the Fischer Price Nativity scene ALL YEAR LONG, because I figure you can never have enough baby Jesus in your life. If Christmas is the celebration of Joy and Saving Grace coming into the world in a whole new way, why does the time leading up to this celebration feel wrought with running around, checking-off “To Do” lists, and stress.

The play set--we're missing a Joseph and a few shepards, one wise man... the price you pay for having the set out all year round

The play set–we’re missing a Joseph and a few shepherds, one wise man… the price you pay for having the set out all year round

For me, Christmas is completely dependent upon the “afterglow.” You know how you prepare for Christmas: buy food, bake, send cards, buy presents (after you hem and haw over the “perfect gift”), decorate and clean the whole house, travel, and go to great lengths to assure your family has a great experience. Is all of that fun? Not necessarily. You can make things as fun as possible, sure. But most of this becomes fun AFTER the fact. You are glad you did all the preparing, all the running around, and you are thrilled because despite the crazy-making, you helped make a memory for yourself and others. Therefore, if Christmas does not have an afterglow, it can feel like all your energy was wasted. It can feel exhausting and stressful.

It’s one of my very human qualities: I like to feel appreciated. I like to feel like someone was paying attention. So, if you have someone like this in your life, please notice them and say ‘thank you.’ There isn’t a lot of glory in cleaning toilets & laundering all the sheets, but it’s all part of the process in preparing for visitors. Maybe the gift-giving starts to feel a bit silly–a woman I know described her daughters’ teenage gift exchanges as “swapping gift cards.” Planning a dinner menu when everyone has different dietary concerns or allergies? Yet, all of this hard work means so much for the overall celebration. Let us all honor those who “prepare him room” in so many different ways. I believe this is my way of saying that I’m grateful for a sense of gratitude and appreciation in the people who love me. My prayer for anyone reading this is that you find a joyful, peaceful, nourishing and grateful Christmas.

Luke 2: 9-12  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”



21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 16
November 25, 2013, 8:28 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , ,

The prompt for Day 16 was, “What Is The Most Cherished Gift You’ve Received?”

Oh, gifts. Gifts are so interesting. If you’ve ever heard about The Five Love Languages, you’ll remember that “Receiving Gifts” is one of the Love Languages. I just took the quiz again, and I factor high on the “Acts of Service.” But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate gifts. I am generally the kind of person that prefers something small and thoughtful, something random and meaningful. I’ll give you an example: One year for my birthday, Cory & the girls gave me a set of Twilight buttons (you know, the kind of buttons that I used to stick on my jean jacket back in 1984). I had been reading my way through the series, and I was looking forward to seeing the movie. It was silly in some ways, but it was sweet and it made me smile. Obviously, the Jacob pin is still attached to my pillow.

When I first saw this prompt (three days ago), I immediately thought about a ring that my parents gave me for my sixteenth birthday. I still have the ring, although I haven’t worn it in years. It is gold with a delicate band, and three small diamond chips embedded in a heart. What made it special was that my parents were under a great deal of financial stress at the time because my dad had been out of work for over a year. I fully expected a small and simple gift, if anything at all, but here was this grand gesture. Looking back, that gift represents something to me: Just because something is weighing heavily on your heart, doesn’t mean you have to deny any reason to celebrate. That is a valuable life lesson.

I’m grateful for the gifts I’ve received and the love and thoughtfulness that they represent.

However, when I think of the gift that I most cherish, I can think of a morning back in late August of 2007. I had been back at work for a few weeks, and I was a new mom. It goes without saying that I was in treading-water mode looking for a life boat. The gift I received was a new perspective. Many reading this know the feeling–my baby slept so long that I awoke with a start and made sure that she was still breathing. After realizing that the baby was indeed fine, I felt a calmness. This “gift” was a light-hearted mood that had washed over me as it dawned on me that maybe I can do this.  Maybe I can do this whole mom thing. Maybe I can see to the needs of another human being and also feel normal. Maybe this new way of being will be challenging for a while–maybe forever–but maybe I can do this. Getting some sleep does that to a person–it can make life seem more possible. That is the gift that I most cherish–a sense that there is enough life and love within me to be a parent.



21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 15

It was bound to happen. I have fallen behind on my posts for the Gratitude Challenge. As with most things, it’s not worth dwelling on the delinquency. What the heck, right? You do what you can, and one day you just can’t fit it in, and then the next day you’re feeling like it’ll take too long to do two posts, so now it’s like a thing. I’ve got days plural to write and I can’t just give myself a whole lot of uninterrupted time to crank out three beautifully written posts without losing an absurd amount of sleep and/or giving up the premise that I might watch Argo one of these nights after the kids go to bed.

The prompt for Day 15 of the Gratitude Challenge asks, “Who Or What Shaped Your Inner Compass?” Upon originally reading this prompt, I felt like I could acknowledge the simple things: I, like those before me, learned about morality from my parents, CCD classes and episodes of Little House on the Prairie. But then, I thought, I could go deeper than than that.

My parents were mostly black-and-white, but they focused primarily on rules that were relevant to keeping harmony in the family: Do not climb the fence into the neighbor’s yard (a rule enacted after I did actually do that), come back home when you hear dad’s loud whistle (until they had a large cast-iron bell installed, in which case they asked that we return to a loud gong of the bell), and the never-to-be-forgotten take your shoes off in the back hallway. Occasionally, mom and dad would talk about things like being nicer to my brother, or being more polite and affectionate to my grandparents when we greeted them.

This is a photo from last summer at my Mom & Dad's house--you can see the bell attached to the house right by the back door

This is a photo from last summer at my Mom & Dad’s house–you can see the bell attached to the house right by the back door

The CCD classes were straight-up rules as they applied to nebulous issues. The ten commandments? Yep, you’re going to have to pretty much explain all of those to me other than the Do Not Steal, Do Not Lie, Do Not Kill-bit. “What is adultery?” my little head would ponder. Turn the other cheek? Turning over tables in the temple? I cannot remember a whole lot of this making sense, but I did get the message that doing bad stuff was very bad and might cause some eternally bad consequences. Enter into the equation the fact that you don’t just do the right thing, you do it out of an interest in preserving your chances at a happy afterlife.

On the day of my First Communion

On the day of my First Communion

But “Little House on the Prairie”? That was a bit different. Laura’s Ma and Pa talked to her a lot about morality. They talked to their little Half-Pint all the time about how rule after rule had gray areas. For instance: You are supposed to be kind to everyone and stick up for those who are being bullied, but when you see Nellie being mean and rude you can’t just knock her over for doing something nasty. This was the kind of stuff that just made sense to me! I can remember trying to work out the details of every rule, and feeling overwhelmed by the fact that each rule can be so confusing. Laura always seemed to have her pulse on what was the most important of all the varying degrees of morality. Laura and her sense of justice–what little girl wouldn’t identify with that? Here’s Laura taking Nelly to task for some ridiculous shenanigans.

As a kid, I can recall a number of times where I just had to challenge what had been laid out straight-away and satisfy my own interests.

  • Stealing: There was the one time in the grocery store when the Bazooka bubble gum was just so irresistible, and I had to pocket some. I was probably 6 or 7. Afterwards, my mom (of course!) saw me looking at the comics and got to the bottom of that. She nearly marched me back into the store, but I promised so endlessly that I would never ever do it again. And I didn’t. (Except for the one time in sixth grade, but that deserves its own post.)
  • Lying: Now, without exploring the reasons why a third grader is interested in creating an alter-ego, let’s just say that I had long dreamt of re-creating myself. I explored this with my new third-grade friend, and she was only too excited to hear about Robert (my older brother) and our family’s plans (which would be extravagant, I’m sure). Eventually, this friend and I had a little truth-telling, and she learned that I had “made up” large portions of the stories that I was telling her. She was hurt, and I felt awful. Big time, awful. I’ve definitely lied since then, but I am the worst. The. Friggin. Worst. It shows all over my face, and I am prone to sweating. Seriously, it’s just so much easier to tell the truth.

All this to say, I am grateful for those initial morality teachers. It’s an ongoing quest, since morality is a messy business. I would love to look at this morality question again, because there are some present day inspirations for my moral compass, too.

During the Gratitude Challenge, I haven’t posed any questions to the wider blog reading community, but that seems silly. Especially as an American approaching Thanksgiving, it’s so fun to reflect on the holiday and the significance. What are you grateful for these days?



21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 14

I am continuing the Gratitude Challenge from Kindspring.org. Today’s prompt asks, “When Has Nature Taken Your Breath Away?”

I’m fortunate to live in an area where nature’s beauty is ubiquitous and I reap the benefits of nature often. I think that nature frequently makes me a calmer, more gracious person. Bright sunshine, blue skies and mountain skylines have that effect on a lot of people.

However, what the question asks is when has nature taken my breath away? That is asking about a wholly different, much more special experience of nature .

I posted a few words about our trip to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) this past summer, and that’s a recent experience that immediately comes to mind. I think my thoughts on YNP essentially make me sound like a dummy who finally got my face out of my phone, took off the earbuds, and paid attention to the world around her (oh, and I don’t even actually own any of those gadgets), but I’m going to say it anyway: Yellowstone is so completely wacky and amazing, a juxtaposition of classic beauty and unique peculiarities. I visited that place and declared, “Wow. I like nature and I thought I knew nature, but THIS is nature like I’ve never seen before.” It is akin to a journey that takes you to an alpine gloryland followed by a visit to an alternative planet of foul smelling geothermal oddities, as if the sweet, gorgeous Mother Nature is digesting her lunch right below your very feet. And this says nothing of the bison, elk and bears that just hang out in this deeply wild land.

The majesty of the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park

The stunning Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park

But another place of utter majesty that comes to mind is the Grand Canyon. Now, admittedly, I’ve not hiked the Bright Angel Trail or taken in the off-the-beaten-path Grand Canyon. I’ve never done much but drive around the southern rim and take in the view. Essentially, I’ve only done the McGrand  Canyon, when there is a bounty of endless gourmet meals. But all the same, when you sit at the edge of that seemingly-endless canyon and attempt to fathom the wonders of geology and time, it is nothing but amazing. When folks talk about the Clark Griswold version of viewing the Grand Canyon (basically, a quick look and a nod to acknowledge the beauty), I can laugh along with them, but deep in my heart I know this canyon is special. This canyon is magnificent.

One of the many views of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon

One of the many views from the southern rim of the Grand Canyon

For me, this talk of nature and majesty goes hand in hand with my spirituality. I find God in nature, and nature can conjure up very intense feelings for me. If there is one very intense way to experience nature and God, well, there is this:

tickercheckAnd this:

img_4805The intersection of love and God and nature? That is an incredible, awe-inspiring, knee-buckling place, and it’s only fitting that gratitude would live in that place, too.



21-Day-Gratitude-Challenge: Day 13
November 20, 2013, 1:38 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

Today’s prompt asked, “Who Inspires You To Be Your Best Self?”

Is this really fair? To choose just ONE person who inspires me like this? I mean, when I think about the ways in which I want to grow, learn, and better accept myself, I am influenced by many people. I am inspired by folks from church, people that I encounter through my daughters’ schools, characters in books and many of the authors of various blogs right here on WordPress. You are talking to a girl who had over 15 pen pals in middle & high school–I love meeting people and I can find something about nearly everyone that I meet that impresses me.

Is it too much to have a three-way tie? First off, I’d have to say that my husband inspires me to be my best self. I think that he above anyone else knows my heart’s deepest desires, and he is very supportive and encouraging. What I gain from Cory is this calm reassurance that we’re “in it together” and he’s my partner in this. Second of all, I’d have to say my kids inspire me to be my best self. I cannot deny the self-aggrandizing moments where they look up and say things like, “Mom, you’re the best mom ever!” Their words make me want to be the person they see in me. Last but not least, I’m inspired by my good friend Anne. Anne is the sweetest, kindest, most affirming and accepting person that I know. I can tell Anne anything at all, and I will get love and support. It’s a bit amazing how thoughtful this woman is–she called me today on Ruby’s birthday, just to let me know that she was thinking of us. Ruby is a special girl in her life, too, though–she’s Ruby’s “fairy” Godmother.

What makes someone inspiring? For me, I don’t love the constant call of our culture for self-improvement. I like the idea of self-improvement and all, but I want to make sure it’s coming from a place of self-love and not of self-hate. If you’re trying to change your life and improve yourself because you currently hate yourself/your body/your situation… then, I just think, maybe we should start there. The self-flagellation in our culture is so permeating. Even in interactions with women that I admire and value, I’ve overheard such self-deprecating humor that it makes me feel uncomfortable. I am grateful for the inspiring people in my life because although they are pulling for me and my “Best Life” stuff,  they are also perfectly accepting of me the way that I am. That is a inspiring combination: I am grateful for those people in my life that celebrate who I am already and who I’m learning to be.