Home of the Brave?

flag-dayFear. Four letters. Fear doesn’t look so scary as word on a page. Manifested in real-life though fear can be very scary indeed. Fear can drive us and paralyze us. Fight or flight, fear causes that adrenaline rush to run away or fight the peril or freeze into a state of doing nothing. Fear shuts out love and amplifies hate. Fear manipulates and controls us. Fear urges me to say “yes” when I really should say “no.” It causes me to say “no” when what I really want to say is “yes.”  It causes me to doubt and second guess. It inhibits me and holds me back.  What do I fear? Being judged by others as not good enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Kind enough? Not having enough? Loneliness? Emptiness? Not being able to provide for me children? Spiders and snakes?  All. Of. The. Above.  But why?

I don’t consider myself to be a religious zealot or a political fanatic. I don’t align as a pure conservative or pure liberal. On a dating profile (yet another interesting topic, but I digress), I once list myself as a “free thinker” and I think that is apt. Typically I stay away from topics of politics and religion as conflict is not my comfort zone. However, after reading this article, “Love Thy Neighbor,” I found I could not remain silent. The words and thoughts on this subject won’t let me rest. The keep playing over and over in my head, compelling me to release them and send them out into the cyber world. So here they are these words and ideas that are mine, but are not me. As I am no more my hand or my foot or my face than I am my thoughts and words or opinions. This is my opinion. And so, I let go of that fear and write.

When I hear or read the words, “America First” or “Make America Great Again” I feel ill. My stomach turns and I feel sad.  When hasn’t America been first? Do we as Americans really need to be afraid of being second? Seriously. When hasn’t America been great?  Isn’t it the reason why people from other countries want to come here? To follow the American dream? Who would want to come to a place that isn’t great? I am a truly, lucky and blessed woman.  I was lucky enough to be born in the United States of America to two caring parents that took me to church on Sundays and provided a loving home for me. I graduated from high school. I went to college. I have food on my table. I have a roof over my head. I have a car that I drive to work every morning. If I get sick, I call the doctor. I have a wonderful family and good friends. The only way I could have been luckier would have been if I’d been born with a penis. That’s reality. My reality. Not everyone is so lucky. I know this. I could just as easily of been born in Syria or Cambodia or North Korea.

Fear has led America to put a man in power who is probably even more fearful than I. (Why else would he lash out at those who disagree with him on such a personal level.  He wants everyone to like him. Who doesn’t want that?) What do Americans fear?  Losing their rights? The right to own a gun? The right to freedom of speech? The right to have more? When I hear the excuse “lessor of two evils” for why people voted for him, I feel angry. Would you want “Crooked Hillary” in the White House instead? No I would not, nor did I vote for her either. If every American who voted for Trump or Clinton that uttered the words “lessor of two evils” as the reason for their vote had instead voted for a third-party candidate maybe we would have someone in the White House my children could look up to. How did the DNC and RNC vet the candidates they put before us in primaries?

I remember sitting in history class growing up learning about American History. I learned about the lynchings of Black Americans in the 60’s, the Red Scare in the 50’s, the Japanese American internment camps during War World War II.  My professor talking about how people were afraid and it led to hysteria. I can vividly remember feeling ashamed I was an American and so grateful I was born during a time when that couldn’t happen again.  I mean we learned our lessons, right? Yet, as I read hateful diatribes between friends on “fake news” and “sore losers,” I find myself questioning whether or not history is yet again repeating itself. Trump has used fear to make Americans distrust their neighbor that doesn’t look like them or practice the same religion we do. We are afraid of terrorists? Of people stealing our jobs? Of not getting our fair share?  Yes, yes and yes. Me too. I get it.  But I don’t like it.

Trump uses fear to isolate our nation by building walls and shutting our borders. Why can’t our vetting process for letting refugees and people from countries not as great as ours into the U.S. be reviewed and improved without shutting our borders and instilling hate and fear. From the time, he announced the executive order until the courts finally allowed it, the new processes could have been completed. I worry one day my grandchildren will look at me after reading about this time period in history ask me how this could have happened. What will I say?  I’m sorry, people were afraid of not being first.

America is a mosaic. We need each other. Our differences are what makes us great.  People make us great. Not policies and politics and religion. We need to set aside our fears. I need to set aside my fear. Come on, we are the “Home of the Brave” aren’t we?

More Than ‘Just Words’

blahWhen I first started writing this blog, I named it “Just Words.” In my mind, the ramblings that flowed through my fingers onto my keyboard and appeared as words on a screen, were just a bunch of words.  The blah, blah, blah musings of a middle-aged woman that no one would really care to read (unless maybe they were related to me). Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. I like to think I was wrong on that.

I am a writer. I love words. Words do matter, whether written or spoken. What you and I say or write does mean something. Words can lift me up or bring me down. Once spoken (or in these days texted or emailed or blogged), you can’t take them back. They are out there – good or bad. With our world becoming more and more electronic, where we are hidden behind our “smart” devices, words become even more important. I’m not complaining.  A true introvert, this is where I am most comfortable –  hiding behind my device, sitting in my PJs in the comfort of my home, carefully crafting and recrafting my words, hoping to send forth the meaning I intend. Yet, I know these cyberspace words are void of human context, of human interaction. You can’t see my face or expression to truly know if I am being sarcastic or sincere. You can’t see the sly smile cross my lips to know if I am joking or being hurtful. Nor do you know if my silence or lack of words is because I am busy or forgetful or having a bad day or I am purposefully blowing you off.

As you cannot get inside my head to understand what I truly meant when I typed those words and hit Enter or pressed Send, I cannot get in yours.  This is hard to remember when I read some comment on Facebook that rubs me the wrong way. Many times as I read heated conversations between “friends” and strangers, I notice people are quick to take offense and strike back in hurtful ways. When I find myself tempted to jump into the mix,  I remind myself that life is better when I assume that most people have good intentions. I am happier assuming people did not intend to make me angry or hurt my feelings or question my integrity but that they simply misunderstood my words or I theirs. And even if that is not the case, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. A person’s opinion is not a personal attack on me as an inividual. I don’t have to react to their words or share mine.

My blogging voice has been quiet for a few years. I haven’t felt like sharing my words. Maybe it was because I deemed them as “Just Words,” so who really cares anyway? This epiphany that my thoughts are more than ‘Just Words,” led me to  rename my blog to “Serendipity.” Isn’t that a great word! It just rolls off the tongue. Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” (happenstance – another great word) or a “pleasant surprise.”  Serendipity represents the essense my blog – to share the pleasant surprises my life brings with others and hopefully leave my followers a pleasant surprise as they read my words and relate.

Yes, words are important, but they don’t mean shit if you don’t follow through… But that is a topic for another day.

Tell me what you think in the comments below (I promise not to take offense:)).

Make Over Cure All?

maincureIn a futile attempt to get my pajama-clad body off the couch and take them somewhere, anywhere (because they are soooooo bored), my daughters gave me a make over this past Sunday. My youngest gave me a manicure and a pedicure, while the eldest braided my hair and did my makeup.

Upon completion of operation “let’s go,” my eldest daughter told me, “You look so beautiful Mom! Don’t you want to go out and show off how great you look?” While the little one chimed in, “You look so pretty. Now all you need is clothes!”

I pulled they blanket up around my neck and coughed. “Thanks girls! You did make me feel a little better. But, there’s no way I’m looking remotely attractive right now. Sorry girls. It’s not happening today.”

You see my throat started to feel scratchy Friday night. I downed some OJ, but by Saturday morning swallowing was painful. Sunday morning brought the sniffles, sneezes and watery eyes. So while I may have looked marginally good on the outside on the inside I still felt like total crap. My littlest brought me tissues, cough drops and a glass of water (bless her heart!) and my oldest told me she “hoped I felt better soon.” And I drifted off to a fitful sleep.

The next two days, I “Dayquilled” and chicken-souped my way through work.  Today, while I still have a bit of a stuffy nose and a cough, I feel 100 times better than I did Sunday. I glance down as my rainbow-colored nails tap on the keyboard and smile to myself. (I’ll take it off tomorrow.) Somehow, I think, getting a make over and a little love can make you feel just a bit better no matter how bad you feel inside. So maybe tonight, we’ll go out for a special treat…unless the scratchy throat has moved on to one of them, in which case, I’ll do their nails:)

Mommy Gone Berserk (over a Cheezit)!

cheezitInstead of spending my typical, lazy Sunday afternoon taking a much deserved siesta, I let my 12-year old talk me into a cleaning frenzy (she wants to have a friend over next weekend – read ulterior motive). Me, being, me figured, OK at least I’d get some help with the drudgery and agreed to her plan. She’d start in the kitchen, I’d focus on the living room/dining room, and the little one got stuck with the bathrooms. She plugged in the iPod and the tunes blared through the house as we got down to work.

After about ten minutes, the youngest decided to “help” me instead of working on her designated room (can’t say I blame her there). One corner of our living room is called the “peace” corner. Originally the idea behind said “peace” corner was to give the girls a place to “chill” when they got overwhelmed and needed a “time out.”  Unfortunately, it quickly became the dumping place for all the stray toys that never made it back upstairs to their bedroom. We targeted that area first, sorting stuff into various piles: the Barbie pile, the American Girl Doll pile, the Polly Pockets/Littlest Pet Shops pile, the book pile, the hair stuff pile, the pens/pencils/markers pile, the stuffed animal pile and laundry/shoe pile. As you can tell a lot of stuff fit/crammed into that little corner.

I made painstaking progress as my helper found her “long, lost” something or other and switched to playing instead of helping. I let it go as I could clean a lot faster (and put a bunch of junk in the “trash” pile) without her watchful eyes. My 12-year old was still on a mission to somehow turn our house into one out of Better Homes & Gardens (I applaud her lofty goals). Three hours later, the kitchen gleamed and the living room looked descent (at least we wouldn’t be showcased on Hoarders Buried Alive this week). I’d just finished wiping the sweat off my brow, priding myself on a job well done, when the incident happened. (I shutter even now thinking about it:))

The little one is making her American Girl Doll kick an American Girl Doll-sized soccer ball across the freshly vacuumed carpet. My oldest saunters into the room and informs her little sister that she doesn’t get to have a friend over because she didn’t help clean up. (I know that’s a lot of she’s, but you get the idea.)

“Yes, I did too help!” the youngest screams in her loud, screechy, seven-year-old voice (you know the kind that makes you wish you had ear plugs). She then reaches into the box of Cheezits that sat on the end table (she hadn’t gotten around to putting it away yet) and throws one at her sister. I watch as it sails across the room and lands in the middle the carpet. It was in this moment (the last straw so to speak) that I lost it and am ashamed to say dropped the “F” bomb. My oldest recoiled in horror. The little one just shrugged her shoulders and smiled at me. Can you believe her audacity!?! I let a few more expletives fly and looked directly at my oldest daughter and said, “Yeah, I said a bad word and I’m going to say some more if you two don’t stop fighting and some one doesn’t pick up that blankety-blank Cheezit right now.”

Thank God above, they didn’t argue over who was going to pick it up and the little one bent down and actually picked it up. I don’t really know what she did with it next (I doubt she ate it, though, as she is my germ-a-phobe) as I headed upstairs to lace up my running shoes. Five minutes later I hit the pavement. Forty minutes and four miles later, I felt much better. I apologized to the girls for yelling and swearing. They apologized for fighting and being a tad messy and we forgave each other. Hugs all around and our house is mostly clean.

Next Sunday afternoon, though, I’m definitely taking a nap!

The Equinox

20101010_5245As I moused over the Google animation this morning to see what the “special occasion” of the day was, an ominous pop-up indicated that it’s the “first day of autumn.”

“Huh,” I mumbled to myself and glanced at my old-school wall calendar, thumb-tacked to my cubicle wall. My eyes scanned to find “September 23,” and there it confirmed the day as the “Fall Equinox.” The official changing of the season. A day where the amount of light and dark are perfectly equal. Balanced. The way I like my life. The way I want my life. The way my life so is not.

I focus on one area, only to neglect another. I finish a half marathon, but my writing halts. I try to be the best mom, while my house falls in a shambles. I hone in on my career as my children clamor to get my attention. Ugh. It seems the more I try to make my pizza crust perfectly round, the more lopsided and out of whack it gets. I wonder if I quit pinching and stretching and just let it “be” that it would just naturally take its proper shape. What? Probably not, but being a pizza it would still taste good. (Another one of my balancing problems!) Don’t worry, I don’t know what I’m talking about either.

Circling back to the fact that today is the first day of autumn, I reflect. How is it possible that it can be autumn already? The summer blew by me. My last post was dated April 29. An entire season went by in virtual silence. Not that anyone probably really cared or even noticed, but still my voice went quiet over the past four months. Why is that? I’d like to say it was because I spent those carefree, summer days running, picnicking, vacationing, relaxing and just plain old having fun. I’m thankful to say it wasn’t because of a failing health problem or some dire family problem or because I didn’t have anything to say (because we all know I always do) . Mostly, it goes back to that whole balance thing. It goes back to my difficulty setting priorities and finding the time to fit them all into my day.

Thus, today, one of two perfectly balanced days of the year, I’m reminded to re-adjust, to reassess and get a bit more balanced. So, that on my evening running when those words form and flow through my mind, afterwards I sit in front of my computer and tap away, capturing them instead of letting them float away. I continue on through the interruptions – my youngest daughter’s shower-singing and my eldest’s request to examine her bug bite – until my thoughts are complete and I click “Publish.”

Here’s to a fall full of “Just Words” from me. (I know you are excited!)

What keeps you on track?

I’m Finally A Runner!

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Magnet Earned!

Three days ago, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. I ran 13.1 miles in 2:35:44 at the Glass City. As I write this post, the feat is still surreal to me and almost unbelievable. A year ago the idea of running a mile seemed impossible. A 5k race was my goal and even that felt daunting and unattainable. A 10k was beyond my realm and a half marathon unthinkable. Yet, one by one I checked off each milestone.

Here’s a look back over my running journey via my Facebook posts:

April 16, 2013
“I just ran 2.10 miles using WEEK 1 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 1, 2013
“When am I going to be able to do this w/o feeling like I’m going to DIE??????? I just ran 2.22 miles using WEEK 2 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 7, 2013
“For some reason it seems like I’m getting slower instead of faster:( It must be the wind – yeah that’s it – I just ran 2.05 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 15, 2013
“Well I’m still alive. That’s all I can say.  I just ran 1.99 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 19, 2013
“Who am I kidding? I think I’m more of a couch girl – I’m dying here —  I just ran 2.20 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 24, 2013
“Actually feeling pretty good! I just ran 2.38 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 26, 2013
“I think I might live:) I just ran 2.29 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 28, 2013
“Maybe over the hump:) I just ran 2.44 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

June 8, 2013
“Just ran/walked my first 5k – 40:34 – yeah me!”

Run for Relay 5K
Run for Relay 5K

July 13, 2013
“Oh yeah! Ran the entire 5k – first time ever! New PR!”

Delta Chicken Run 5K
Delta Chicken Run 5K

November 16, 2013
“Longest run ever! For me!”

Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K
Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K

April 27, 2014
 “And after – 2:35:44”

Glass City Half Marathon
Glass City Half Marathon

I am proud of myself for persevering and not giving up even though in the beginning I really wanted to. I owe a lot to my running friends for encouraging me, training with me, cheering my on and making me believe in  myself (you know who you are and I thank you!)

So is a full marathon on my horizon? No. Not because I don’t think I could do it, but more because it isn’t something I aspire to do. At this time in my life, I don’t have the time to dedicate to the time it would take to train for it. I am content with a half. I am finally able to say I am a runner without hesitation. So for those of you starting out with the C25K or some other program – don’t give up! If I can do it, anyone can!

Checking Up

Floating in and out
Of consciousness, I sleep
Not wanting to wake

Who taps my glass pane?
A glimpse of red wings, he flies
I smile. I’m ready…

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