Thursday Thoughts- A Beautiful World Awaits

“A beautiful world awaits you on the other side of fear.”

Well, ain’t that the truth.  I seriously believe this wholeheartedly.  

This summer, we were traveling to South Carolina by way of Tennessee and North Carolina.  Eastern Tennessee and North Carolina are mountainous with the Appalachian Mountains rolling through there- Great Smoky Mountain National Park is in Eastern Tennessee, and we drove right by.  If you’re not aware yet, I am somewhat anxious driving through mountainous areas.  By somewhat anxious, I mean very anxious.  And by mountainous areas, I mean southern Missouri.  But seriously- not my thing.

When Kareem found this out, he’s like wait but you climbed a mountain this summer.  Well, yeah.  And you drive all over and hike in mountains.  Well, yeah.  So you can’t be that scared!  Well, he found out.  🙂

Do I look scared?? I was terrified!

When we were planning our trip this summer, I almost changed the destination due to anxiety about the route.  Then we found a route that avoided what I anticipated being the worst of it, but it added several hours.  That was okay with Kareem, but while on the road, we kept getting delayed and we had an event and friends to get to.  So I took a deep breath, and said let’s just go through it.

Because at the end of the day, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it- you have to go THROUGH it.  As the bear hunt song says.  And it’s true.  

It reminded me of my divorce.  I spent lots of time being anxious about what was going to happen during and after.  I spent lots of time trying to prevent it from happening.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t.  I had to go through it.  And I’m way better for it.  I am not grateful it happened, I am not counting it as a blessing, but I learned and grew from it.  And on the other side- or at least further than I was at the beginning- it’s not nearly as scary.  I just had to begin.

These photos are from a trip I took at the time. This is my deep breath moment. When I finally thought, okay. You just have to accept this. You have to go through it. Let’s go.

So often that’s the case, right?  You just have to begin.  Can’t go under it,can’t go over it, can’t go around it- gotta go through it!  So let’s go.  

After we started getting through the mountains, I was amazed by the beauty.  I had moments that took my breath away- both from fear and from the magnificence. 

Sometimes, though, you make the decision to go through it and you lose resolve. You get scared again. Or you aren’t sure of yourself. That’s okay. There were moments in those mountains where I told Kareem he had to stop. He literally could not. There was nowhere to go. I had to take a deep breath and keep going.

It was worth it, in the end.  All the worrying wasn’t worth it.  And now I feel more confident for the next time.  The growth that happens through being courageous- being fearful but doing it anyway- well that growth is special.

That beautiful world awaited me on the other side of my fear.

Let God Deal with the Things They Do

There is this Will Smith lyric I quote pretty often. My kids know it. Everyone knows it. I wholeheartedly believe it.

Recently, I had the pleasure of being at Scout camp with my son for a few days.  In that time, I gained a lot of perspective on some things, but one of the most interesting things I got to do was be reminded of just how kind and loving my son is.  

There were several instances when someone was rude to him or left him out or whatever.  He did not typically respond in anger.  He did not respond by being rude back.  He almost every time responded with kindness and love.  And I thought, wow.  This child.  One time, he got pretty upset.  I was not with him, but it was reported to me by him and one of the other children’s grandpa.  We were talking about it and processing it, and during this, he quoted the Will Smith quote.  He also had a lot of grace for both the other kid and himself, and I was just so impressed with him.

Later that week, I had the opportunity to come in contact with someone who has been consistently rude to me and my children, as well as my husband.  The rudeness had culminated in two recent incidents in which she was more than rude, she had been mean to me.  I decided to ignore her.  Like, not just ignore her rudeness, but ignore her completely.  When she approached, I purposely engaged myself in other activities.  With my children.  As the time went on that she was standing there, I felt icky inside.  It did not feel good to ignore her.

When I was going through my divorce, I was devastated and sad and angry and grieving.  There were some times when I said or did things that didn’t feel good- I was acting on these emotions.  I started to learn how important it is to decide who you’re going to be and act accordingly.  I was learning through that experience who I was at my core, and that I am a kind person.  (I have a cousin who says I’m not kind and there’s nuance to this, but that’s another show….) And I need to protect my energy so that I can act in alignment with who I am.  I do not do this perfectly, but I consider it often.

Standing there, ignoring her, I did not feel good.  My kids were there and watching.  I thought, my son was such a beautiful example of this at camp- I have to do this for my kids!  And so I broke the ice and waved.  That simple act made me feel so much better.

I don’t have to let myself be walked on or treated poorly, but I also don’t have to be rude or mean.  That’s exactly the lesson I’ve tried to teach my kids, and this week, that’s one of the lessons my boy taught me.  I’m so grateful for his example and so proud of him.  

Lessons in Trout

You know that saying, “Rock bottom teaches us lessons mountain valleys never will?” Well, I like to say trout fishing teaches us lessons bass fishing never will. You feel me?

We got to take the kids camping and fishing this weekend on one of Missouri’s trout streams. Did you know Missouri has a lot of trout areas, including red, white, and blue ribbon areas that support naturally reproducing trout? We’ve got both rainbow and brown trout here! You can also do trout fishing throughout the year, though the trout park seasons are March 1 through October 31, with a catch and release season through the rest of the year.

Trout fishing is different than other types of fishing, and it’s my personal favorite! It’s very fast-paced and a fun challenge. Speaking of, Mo Dept of Conservation and Trout Unlimited put together this Trout Slam. I think it’s still going on, so if you’re into trout fishing, check it out.

The challenge transcends generations. My dad’s dad used to take him when he was little, then they took me when I was little, and now I take my kids.

It is a joy to watch my parents teach and help my kids fish! Jimmy doesn’t fish for too long, but he does enjoy it. Nick probably enjoys it the most, followed by Rami and Lucy.

Something else I love about taking them fishing is the lessons they learn about perseverance, patience, and personal responsibility. Nobody can do it for you. And if you want to catch a fish, you have to try and try until you do. You have to plan and make choices. You have to be patient. You cannot compare yourself to others. It’s all kinds of wisdom wrapped up in one activity.

I’m proud watching them work through these things. They may struggle or get frustrated, but when they are successful, it’s awesome. And when they are not, it’s awesome. It’s awesome to hear them reflect and say, well next time I’ll do this or that. Next time. They don’t give up. They’re ready to go back next time.

A Walking Stick

I don’t know if you are at all like me, but I sometimes find myself getting stuck thinking about my present stressors or over-focused on the self-improvements that I am still to conquer. Getting stuck in these thoughts is the worst. I get overwhelmed somewhere between what tasks are not done, what new challenge is coming, and how I don’t feel prepared for either because I am not strong enough. Getting stuck SUCKS!!!

My son is 11yo and he was just diagnosed with ADHD last year. He was diagnosed with Inattentive Type, and even though he tries to hide it from his teachers and peers… I sometimes observe him really get stuck. He stands there thinking, and thinking, or not thinking but trying to look like he’s thinking through a problem or a thing. Honestly, it tests my patience. I know you are thinking, give the child a chance… I timed it once and witnessed him stuck for almost ten minutes trying to decide what to next. I nudge him, encourage him, prompt him, but I can’t unstick him. He has to decide it’s time to move on. It’s time to let go of the fear of consequences, let go of the fear of making a mistake, step back from near sighted vision we all have when we are so close to a thing, and look at a bigger picture.

I decided I would try something new with him recently, and you’ll have to stay tuned to find out if it works, but I started to wonder if he would feel encouraged if he remembered where he started and how far he came. If I reminded him of how much his handwriting has improved in the past year, would that remind him that he could achieve his goals and shift his focus on his spelling. If I reminded him that six months ago he struggled to do a 2 minute plank, and now he can do a 6 minute plank; would that encourage him to achieve another physical goal. If I reminded him that last year he used to sit and read at recess, and this year he has a D&D group that he meets up with; would that encourage him to expand his social circle.

Getting stuck SUCKS!!! I know, because I was reminded watching and observing my son that I spent a lifetime before meeting Susan of getting stuck. It wasn’t that long ago that I was trapped in a prison of my own making. One that had walls of depression and handcuffs of self-loathing. And recently, I find that when I’m alone in the house, or not planned or prepared that those feelings of overwhelmed and unfocused rise back up. I have flashes of memories of not leaving my house for days and weeks, and memories of routines that completely lacked joy.

In those moments, I forget the task list, and I forget the choices for what fulfilling thing I can do are… I forget how to be grateful, and I forget how to be thoughtful of my wife and kids… I get stuck. Now before you get out your judging gavel… the difference in the man before you is that I don’t stay there for more than a few minutes now. Just like I have reminders of how lost I once felt, and how paralyzed I once became… they are flashes. Because everyday, I take a very brief but important and powerful look in my rear view mirror. A look at how far I’ve become.

MY secret I use to not getting stuck is that every time I get stuck, I lean on the story of my journey like it is a walking stick. I lean on it to keep me stable, and I use it to make sure that my footing is solid, I lean on it to move the brush out of my line of sight and find the trail for my hike. I have so much gratitude for my hardships, and I have developed real pride in my accomplishments. And I use that gratitude and pride to keep me from getting stuck.

I hope that you can do the same… take a look in the rear mirror and remember where you came from… maybe you are in the hardships of your life, and when you look back in that rearview mirror you see more envious times… you can use that too… Draw from the gratitude of those more pleasant times to give you future goals, and assurances that you can achieve the existence that you want.

I’m not encouraging you to live in your past… I’ve tried that too… I’m encouraging you to use the facts of your journey like a walking stick that gets you to keep moving forward.

Watercolor Wednesday: Kindness and Bookmarks

This week for Watercolor Wednesday, I wanted to tie it into our theme of kindness. So we didn’t just create a picture or do a tutorial. We created a gift!

I had ordered some plastic bookmark sleeves several months ago, anticipating using them for Lucy’s birthday party which I didn’t end up doing. It was twelve dollars for fifty of them. They are marketed also as photo booth picture frame things. Here is an Amazon link for them- this is not an affiliate link- just sharing information.

I then sliced watercolor paper into two inch wide strips to fit inside the sleeves. We taped the papers to the table and let the kids go to town. We made some for ourselves and each other, but we also made a couple to gift to someone whose kindness has helped us or made a difference to us.

We do watercolor Wednesday pretty regularly, almost every week. It is met with different reactions by each kid. Nick likes art, and some weeks if he likes the project, he really takes his time to do it. Other weeks, he has a list of a million things to do, and he will rush to the next thing quickly. Some weeks he chooses not to participate, which is okay too! Lucy loves art. She recently wrote a book at school about how art makes her smile and how she loves to do art. So she is fully invested and fully CONFIDENT! Jimmy loves to do it, loves to do it his way, can’t get enough, and is super proud of his masterpieces. Rami loves doing the art, and often has really great ideas. He is meticulous. He really enjoys the art, but he can get caught up in perfectionism and disregard the process. So he always learns really great lessons through the process.

I also gave the kids oil pastels to use too, thinking they might do some oil pastel/watercolor resist work. Lucy did a little bit, and I did one too. She loves the oil pastels. The I love Rory bookmark for her firends is done in oil pastels.

I made tassels out of embroidery floss. Tedious! But it really makes them look legit, and I got faster at it the more I did. We made a lot of bookmarks! 😀

I chose to give my bookmark to someone I work with who, I believe, is a very strong person and who inspires me. I put a French quote on the back that says, “Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai decouvert en moi un invincible ete.” by Albert Camus. (My apologies that I do not know how to add accent marks on here.) Anyway, it means, In the midst of winter, I discovered in myself an invincible summer. This is one of my favorite quotes, one that I have represented on my body in a tattoo. During this difficult year, this person has brought that invincible summer. It hasn’t been easy, and there have definitely been mountain valleys on the journey. But I wanted to acknowledge her strength through this bookmark, which I did oil pastel resist under watercolor.