Wednesday, February 25, 2009

25 Random Things

I have seen this list repeatedly on Facebook and it took me awhile to sit down and write my own "25 Random Things" list. I was both intrigued and repulsed by the list at first. Intrigued because it is really interesting to learn new things about people and repulsed because I feel like I have enough "time suckers" in my life right now that it was not easy to justify taking time for this sort-of inane activity, too. But, it turned out to be a fantastic trip down memory lane and I was pleasantly reminded of how far I have come and who has been along with me for the ride. Because I hope my kids will one day read my blog I am including my list of 25 Random Things here so they too can learn a thing or two about their mom.
  1. I met my husband playing darts

  2. I am the mother of two boys

  3. My husband is my biggest supporter in every area of my life

  4. I have no desire to ever go to Africa. Nothing good ever comes from going to Africa.

  5. I have walked in the 60-mile Breast Cancer 3-day twice

  6. I have the same best friends since 7th grade

  7. I hate curry

  8. The most reliable car I have ever owned was my 1987 Chevette

  9. I worked in a pub in London, England after graduating from college

  10. I backpacked around Europe for six weeks by myself

  11. I love to eat sardines with ring bologna

  12. My favorite place in the whole world is Cape May, NJ

  13. I was hit by a car and broke my leg when I was 5-years-old

  14. I have Tony Orlando and Dawn on my iPod playlist

  15. My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

  16. I was born on Thanksgiving

  17. My husband and I have season tickets to the Fisher Theater in Detroit

  18. I play Bunco with my neighbors once a month

  19. My kids' and my favorite activity is riding the Model T cars at Greenfield Village in Dearborn

  20. We have a miniature Dachshund named Lucy

  21. My kids and I belly-laugh watching Tom and Jerry cartoons

  22. I have never played a musical instrument

  23. My favorite beer is Sam Adams

  24. I love to play board games (...Balderdash anyone?)

  25. I live a remarkably fulfilling life

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Perception is Reality

We live in a world where we are judged by how we look. Is it fair? Is it just? Doesn't matter. How you look on the outside is how you are perceived by those around you, period. The better or more put together you look the more seriously you are taken.

My 5-year-old and I have this discussion frequently. He wants to know why he can't go to school or piano practice wearing his sweatpants or his jeans with holes in them. I explain to him that sweatpants are for playing at home, not for school. What difference does it make, he wonders? Other kids do it, why can’t he?

I tell him simply that it’s important to feel good about yourself and what you wear is a central part of that feeling. We are in charge of how we are viewed. When you dress nicely and make an effort to look presentable, people notice. People notice that you think highly enough of yourself to take a shower and brush your hair, put on a nice shirt (unwrinkled) and a nice pair of pants. If you feel good about yourself you will have and project more confidence. Projecting more confidence means you are taken more seriously. Being taken more seriously means people listen to what you have to say. And so on, and so on, and so on…

I made a promise to myself when Nicholas was born that I would not be one of those moms who walked around the grocery store in pajama pants or wore my hair in a perpetual ponytail because I didn't make the effort to take a shower and wash my hair. I have made it a priority to take a shower and put on a coordinated outfit every single day. I hear so many women saying, "I just didn't have time to take a shower today." I find that odd. I live a pretty busy lifestyle too, but I have always managed to find time to take a shower. Granted, I allow for that time in my schedule even if it means setting my alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier than usual. The thought of walking out my door without washing my hair is as foreign to me as poking a stick in my eye. It's just not going to happen. That doesn’t mean I’m vain; it simply means that I make an effort.

If you look at the people in the sweatpants or messy clothes, do you notice anything about them? Are they disheveled? Most likely. Are they dirty? Not necessarily. But, the perception of them looking unkempt is the reality regardless of whether or not they actually bathed. Do you generally take someone seriously who looks disheveled or unkempt? If you were debating the merits of, say, nuclear energy, chances are you wouldn't think too highly of that person's opinion. Now, put that same person in a nice, coordinated outfit and the whole perception changes. The reality becomes different. The bottom-line question is: do you want to be taken seriously?

I drive Nicholas to Kindergarten and we park the car and walk together into the school each morning. We have been doing this for the last several months and we see the same parents everyday out walking with their kids. The other morning, the mother of another Kindergartner in Nicholas's class asked me if I work. I answered that, no, I don't work and she remarked that I looked so nice every morning she was convinced that I must be going off to a job somewhere. In her mind, why else would I bother to comb my hair and put on a nice outfit if I wasn't employed?

I put on a nice outfit every day to provide an example to my kids that it's important to be confident. It's important to be taken seriously. And, most of all, it’s important to feel good about yourself. I want my kids to be conscious of how they present themselves because presentation matters. The sooner they learn this valuable lesson, the better. It might seem awkward to talk to a 5-year-old about the importance of proper dress, but if I don’t tell him how else will he learn? And, if he doesn’t learn by example how can I convince him of the importance?

Perception is reality. Get used to it. Believe it. I have defined what my appearance means to me and what image I choose to project. Have you?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Living in the Moment

I spend every day with my kids doing fun things like going to museums, libraries, parks and play dates. We are pretty much on the go most days and we take advantage of the great resources surrounding us here in metro Detroit. On most days my kids wake up and say, "What are we doing today?" A shortage of things to do simply does not exist in this area.

Even though we spend most of our days together, sometimes I have to stop and really focus on living in the moment. I hear myself saying, "just a minute..." or "not right now..." more times than I care to admit. I catch sight of my kids out of the corner of my eye and wonder...when did Nicholas lose his chubby cheeks? How did he get to be so tall? Or, when did Christopher start singing and pronouncing Hakuna Matata correctly instead of trying so hard to just articulate "kunta tata?" It just doesn't seem possible that they are as big as they are right now.

I get up most mornings before the boys wake up to exercise, drink my coffee and do my crossword puzzle. That is my routine. Day in and day out. I don't veer from that routine very often because routine comforts me and I can always find an excuse not to exercise so I rarely ever offer myself the option. I just get up and do it. My alarm went off at 5:15 am this morning and just as I was getting out of bed, Christopher stumbled into my room with his prized blanket half sleep-walking. He woke up unexpectedly and wanted to crawl into bed with me and finish sleeping in my room. I said, "Honey, mommy is getting up right now to exercise. You need to go back into your own bed." He stood there for a moment rubbing his eyes and contemplating what I said until he finally whispered, "but I need you, mommy." My rigid, routine-based brain thought briefly about ignoring his request because, well, that really wasn't part of my plan. But, instead, on this morning, I grabbed Christopher's hand and heaved him up onto my bed. Christopher snuggled in with me and fell back asleep so effortlessly. All he needed was his mommy. I turned off my alarm and drifted off to sleep listening to his delightful breathing. I decided to live in the moment.

I wrote Detroit Science Center on the calendar for today. The boys love to touch and play and absorb everything the science center has to offer. Nicholas is off from school today so I thought a trip to the museum would be a great idea since we have been eager to see the Deep Sea IMAX movie. But, considering that it's only 0 degrees out right now (that is not a typo), we decided we would be better off staying home and making some homemade granola and trying out some new recipes we haven't had time for. We leisurely did some homework at the table this morning after breakfast. We made some valentine cards for friends. The boys are playing a game of bad guys and after awhile we are going to try out our new recipes. We are living in the moment today.

I am reading an interesting book right now called The Survivor's Club. The author "travels worldwide to gain insight from people who have survived a slew of near fatal phenomena ranging from a mountain lion attack to a Holocaust concentration camp, and interviewing an array of experts to understand the psychology, genetics and jumble of other little things that determines whether we live or die." These are truly amazing stories. But, the one thing I have come away with more than anything after reading this book is that these survivors' lives have changed, for the better, and they are more aware of living in the moment because they are grateful just to be alive. All of these people have survived against completely unrealistic odds. I don't want to have to survive death-defying odds just to live in the moment and be thankful for what I have right now. I want to do that today just because I can.

My kids will be in school full-time in about a minute and I will only see them on evenings and weekends. I am reminding myself today that when Nicholas wants me to listen to him practice piano, I will stop whatever I am doing and listen attentively - even if he plays the same song fifteen times. I am reminding myself today that it’s OK to sleep in every now and again breathing in-sync with a certain little blonde-hair, blue-eyed angel. The treadmill isn’t going anywhere. I am reminding myself today that it’s OK to change up our plans because we decide that watching Tom and Jerry cartoons in bed under the covers to keep warm is way more fun than going to the science museum. I am reminding myself today that it’s OK to turn off my computer because my kids are much more important than someone’s status update on Facebook.

I hear my kids calling me now. “Mommy, we are done playing bad guys. Can we make our granola?” You betcha. I’m turning off my computer right now. We are living in the moment.

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