“Love Everyone For Who They Are.”

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Over the past few months – my 8 year old daughter has been finding any chance she can to write things like “Love Everyone For Who They Are” or “Believe in yourself” or “Love everyone on Earth”  or “Take care of each other” – whether it is on a community black board at the local frozen yogurt shop, on sample papers at the art store or at the beach in the sand.

For the majority of her life – she has felt like the Odd one out. Different.

An “Other.”

She has come to the conclusion that there are many other “Others” out there – who feel just as alone sometimes as she does and that maybe leaving random notes for them to find in unusual places, might just remind them of how beautiful they really are.

Funny thing is – most of us feel like “Others” on a daily basis.

Even those with over 2000 “Facebook friends” that “Everyone loves!”

We could all use these little reminders now and again and today I needed to put this photo here and remind myself to love ME for who I am – even when I feel ugly, “Frumpy”, less than perfect, broken, saggy and flawed.

I thought maybe you might need it too…and maybe, just maybe you (and I) might  follow her lead and start writing “messages in the sand” for other “Others” to find when they need it the most.

Random acts of uplifting thoughts – left for the people who need to find them…sounds like a great way to spend those few minutes you would have spent checking to see what your “Friends” are doing on Facebook when you are out enjoying a walk on the beach, enjoying your favorite frozen yogurt flavor or browsing art supplies in the “Pen” section of the art store.

Yes?

Yes.

1tlove

 

 

The Odd One Out

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I recently discovered this note crumpled up in the bottom of my 8 year old daughter’s back pack. I sat there a while holding it in my hands and fought back the tears.

Did she really feel this alone every day at school?
What am I doing wrong?
Why doesn’t anyone like to play with my beautiful, amazing, tender hearted dreamer?

Watching your child struggle with being “The Odd One Out” is such a hard thing to deal with as a Mom. You want them to walk out onto the playground and be immediately greeted with smiles and waves and invitations to play…but instead – you watch them walk the edge of the playground, searching for someone just like themselves who might want to play with them…and then when no playmate is found…they go sit on a swing by themselves and watch all of the other children interacting.

But sometimes…they just enjoy observing the World around them and not participating. Sometimes they are just sitting, thinking and taking it all in.

Sometimes they come to the conclusions that there MUST be other “Others” just like themselves out there who are also searching for a like minded soul to share time with and sometimes….they try to find each other.

She is still searching for another “Other” that she connects with at school – but she is also spreading love and acceptance and joy in the process…and instead of beating myself up for “what am I doing wrong?” – I am going to applaud myself for “I must be doing something right.”

I can’t wait to see where her heart takes her.

Fear – Fear… Go away

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Me: “how was school today Sweetheart? Who did you play with at Recess?”
My Little Girl: “No one.”
Me: “…oh…are you still having a hard time making friends?”
My little girl: “Yeah, I am…but I just go play on the Monkey bars and challenge my body and my mind. I conquered my fear today and Im really proud of myself. I can skip two bars on the monkey bars now and I was really afraid I would fall if I even tried! It wasnt as hard as I let myself think it was going to be!

But I did try and I DID IT! So… even if I didn’t have any friends to watch me and cheer for me when I did it..thats ok – and really Mom…friends might have been happy for me for a few minutes and then they would have run off to go play something else and forgotten all about it – but I got to be proud of myself all day. Thats what matters the most anyway. Right?”

Right.
So right.

Is she really only 8?

My Little “Lorax”

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Took my 8 year old daughter to get some frozen yogurt after school yesterday.
She was sitting looking out the window and took a big scoop of yumminess into her mouth and her brow furrowed and she looked incredibly depressed all of a sudden…not the face I was expecting to see after a first bite of sugary goodness…

Me: “Sweetie..what’s wrong? Did you pick a flavor you dont like?”
Daughter: (Still staring off at the foothills in the distance) “No. It’s good. I like it.”
Me: “What’s troubling you love? You look so sad…”
Daughter: “What are humans doing to ourselves? I mean…look at all of those houses up there…big houses. Who needs that much room? Don’t they like being close to their kids? I hope there are still trees left when my kids are born…I can’t imagine not climbing trees or making tree forts with them.

When I grow up – Im going to have land with lots of trees and a tiny house so that my kids are near me all the time and we can go outside and enjoy nature together instead of living inside of nature that we killed so we can be further apart…yeah…or something like that…I need to figure out how to stop this.”

Watch out World…My little Tree hugger is “Thinking” of ways to ensure that she never lives in a world without trees.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss – “The Lorax”

My Little “Other”

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I have the most beautiful, amazing, talented and smart little girl – with one of the biggest hearts you will ever meet. She is 7….going on 97.

I have been watching her big brown eyes grow a little sadder every day for the past few weeks and my husband and I finally got her to share what was on her heart.

We moved to our very first home last year so she had to switch to a new school and she has been trying so very hard to fit in there …but just doesn’t seem to belong.

Every day, I ask her how her day was and what she did and who she played with – and quite often she responds with a simple “No one. I just played on the Monkey bars by myself…” and assures me that it is her choice to do so…but today – today…I learned otherwise.

This was our conversation on the way home from school this afternoon:

Me: “Who did you play with at recess today?”
Her: “No one. I ask kids to play with me and they just walk away. No one invites me to play with them…No one wants to play with me…”
Me: “Why don’t kids want to play with you?”
Her: “I’m an “Other””
Me: “…what’s an “Other””?
Her: “It’s someone that doesn’t fit in with anyone because …they are different.”
Me: “Different how?”
Her: “It doesn’t matter how. Sometimes they are smart kids, sometimes they are kids that are behind in stuff, sometimes they are kind of weird, sometimes they look different. They are just …”Others” and no one wants to play with us.
Me: “Oh..maybe you can play with the other “Others”?”
Her: “Others” like me…we just go around looking at the world instead. Today I found a big clump of moss and a pretty flower and a leaf skeleton and I just played in my imagination and… was alive.”
Me: “…What can we do..I dont know how to help..?”
Her: “It’s ok Momma. I don’t mind. Life is pain. It’s going to make me a stronger person when I grow up. Someday being an “Other” will help me change the World. Like… you know…Rosa Parks or Nikola Tesla or…You and Daddy.” 

My heart broke into a million pieces.

I’ve been trying to process it all afternoon and once she went to bed and I kissed her sweet smiling little face one more time – I went into my office and started thinking about my own childhood.

I was an “Other.”

I never fit in with any group either.

Don’t get me wrong…most everyone liked me (I think) – I was kind and respectful to everyone I met..always. I never judged anyone. I was always the first one to find the new kid and show them around. I made friends with all of my teachers and cared about everyone…but I didn’t fit in with anyone. Not really.

I used to dread lunch time. I hated going in and getting my lunch tray and then trying to figure out where to sit. I had lots of friends -but no “Group”. I didn’t fit in with any of them.

I was smart and I loved learning and reading and I loved having homework and always got good grades…but I didn’t fit in with the “Nerds.”

I was “Sweet” and “Kind” and helpful – and the “Jocks” were all nice to me and half of them would have pounded anyone who ever tried to hurt me in any way – but I was not a part of them.

I could dance and had some great moves and the “Cheerleaders” all thought I should try out for the team – but I was never asked to hang out with them or sit with them and was never asked to participate in anything social outside of school (or in school for that matter.)

I had a handful of people through out my school years that saw me for me and tried to incorporate me into their group but I just never really felt like I fit there either.

My childhood and teenage years were very lonely. I don’t want that for my daughter…and yet…a part of me does….because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t been an “Other” growing up (and still am to this day.)

Maybe that makes me a horrible Mother.

Maybe wishing this “Otherness” on my daughter is cruel…but I have a feeling that she is wrapping herself up in her cocoon right now and in another few years…a whole new level of beauty is going to be unfurled on this World – when she spreads her wings to fly.

To all of the parents out there with your own little “Others” – go take a walk through the Butterfly house at the zoo sometime…and watch not the fluttering colorful creatures flying about…but take a look at all of the people standing there – wide eyed, filled with awe and joy every time one of these amazing creatures lands on their shoulder and touches them with beauty.

That is my little girl.

She is my little “Otherling” and she already spreads joy – everywhere she lands.

Because of You

My kids and I made this video for my husband for Father’s Day this year.

I have decided that I’m going to start making an effort to make sure that I tell at least one person a day – how they have changed my life, blessed my life, taught me something or how much I appreciate them….because we only have a limited number of “Tomorrows” and we just don’t know when today will be our last.

I challenge you to take 30 seconds a day – to leave a comment for someone on Facebook, send an email, make a phone call or better yet…meet in person – and tell someone how much they mean to you.

Don’t just stop at your family members and your friends…try telling the grocery store clerk, the mail delivery person, the guy that always remembers your order at your favorite restaurant, your hair dresser, the sweet little old man that walks his dog past your house every morning, the garbage man, your neighbors, your children’s teachers, the bus driver, the ice cream man, the photo lady at Costco, the pharmacist, the deli guy that always remembers your extra cup of ranch dressing, the smiling girl at the front desk at the gym, your doctor, the Fed Ex guy, the Vets assistance that spoils your pet with love and treats when you leave them for exams, your boss, the guy that always leaves a 25% tip, the bowling alley chap that helps you search for a ball for your children, the guy who delivers your water, the clerk at the video or music store…etc …even if you just take 2 seconds to stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and give a heartfelt “Thank you.” – it makes a huge difference in someones day.

My Mom used to tell me “Smile. It could save someone’s life” – I truly believe that.

How I see it.

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Sometimes I find that I have allowed myself to fall into the “Woe Is Me” state of mind.

Today was one of those days…where my head was pounding, my body is aching, I cant breathe through my nose, my throat hurts, I haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time for a week (new puppy in da house!), Im exhausting myself with work again and trying not to worry about various other things…etc.

I wanted to crawl into bed and lay there and hide from life for a while… but instead – I went and grabbed my little girl from school and though my head was pounding to the point I stepped away and cried for a few minutes – I never once let her know that I was hurting that much, because it was our “Special time” together and she was so excited to go get her hair cut and colored (I let her get a pink and blue stripe!) and pick out a new dress to wear for the last day of school…not because I didn’t want her to see me being “Weak” or think that Im a “baby” or have her worry about me – but because I knew I could do it…no matter what…

Because no matter how much my head hurt today or how exhausted I am – I reminded myself to be thankful that all I had to deal with was a migraine and a very tired body…because today, someone found out they have cancer, had to watch their child die, dug through a garbage bin to find a scrap of food to try to split between their 3 starving children living in the back of their car, got blown up by a bomb halfway around the world and no where near their family, walked 12 miles one way to fetch tainted water to take back to their village and hoped no one would get sick from drinking it for one more day, caused a fatal accident because they were distracted by changing the radio station, lost their entire retirement fund because of a relative that stole their bank card, lost their right hand in a woodworking accident and now cant provide for their family, lost their job and have to tell their wife and 3 kids they wont be able to afford to keep their house, watched their town destroyed by a tornado, gave birth to a still born child at full term, accidentally shot their best friend in a hunting accident, spilled soda all over their keyboard and shorted out their computer and lost their entire senior thesis with a week left before graduation, found out their mate is cheating on them…I could go on….

When I feel like the World is out to get me or my obstacles are too big to conquer – I remind myself that things could be so much worse.

My family is healthy. My children are thriving and happy and beautiful. My husband loves me dearly and I him. People like my art and allow me to document their lives and those they love. I make people smile on a daily basis, even when I find it hard to smile myself.

Sometimes what we feel like is a “Giant Mountain” in our path – is actually just a pebble.

It’s all how you look at it.

I remember asking my Mom how she was able to deal with all of the struggles she faced in her life and  having cancer 4 times – she always had an “It could be worse” response.

“How can you be smiling so much right now Momma…knowing you are going to die?”
“It could be worse Jenny…I could be dying AND blind, and never gotten to see my babies smile.”

I can only hope to be that strong.