Thursday, September 24, 2009

Because Awesomeness Is Learned....

I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to awesomeness. (Yes, that is a word. I'd it) Awesomeness is not something that you are born with, contrary to popular belief. It is a skill that is developed through a commitment to personal growth and to becoming a better person. It is also developed in the learning of skills and obtaining of knowledge that we then share with others. Awesomeness must be shared, otherwise it isn't awesomeness at all. Awesomeness by it's very nature is the expression of giving back what you have been given. At least, that's my definition anyway. And since it's a subjective thing, I can feel free to create my own definition. So there. It's my blog, I can say what I want. (That was the bratty 3 year old in me rising up.) Awesomeness takes many forms and today I want to give a shout out to those around me who I consider purveyors of awesomeness. And if you don't know these people, you will just have to take my word for it that they exude awesomeness.

First up (and in no particular order) is my friend Liz Carey. Liz has always exemplified awesomeness to me for reasons FAR too many to mention here, so I am going to highlight just one today. You see, Liz and I are both people who suffer from health situations that (after long journeys and many doctors) have drastically changed our lifestyles and now we both follow mostly raw, vegan diets. But what makes Liz literally drip with awesomeness is that she is a researcher. She reads books, searches the Internet, talks to experts and then (Here is the truly awesome part) she posts her findings plus recipes and "how-to's" on her blog. Which is helpful to me as she lives about four hours away. If I have a question, I check her blog first, and then if my question isn't answered, I call her or text her or email her and she sends me what I need. Folks, it doesn't get more awesome than that! Seriously, check out her blog which you will find here. Even if you don't eat raw, try some of her recipes, they are delicious.

Secondly is my friend Sarah Sumrall. Sarah is the single most creative person I know, and being in the arts, I know a lot of creative people and Sarah tops them all. First of all, she's a hair stylist by profession and she can rock pink streaks and blue streaks and make them seem totally normal and beautiful in a way that I have never seen. And if that weren't enough, she sings, plays the piano, draws, paints, juggles. (OK, made that last one up) She also sews and creates her own unique clothes using a method I can only describe as the Frankenstein method. She buys clothes from thrift shops and then chops them up and makes them into new pieces that look totally cool and hip and unique. And she uses that same method with scraps of material to make these awesome purses that are just the coolest things! She is planning to sell them someday, and when she gets an Etsy account (which I am so trying to talk her into) I will post the link and you all can see her awesomeness for yourself. She also has drawn out and designed my next tattoo. I gave her a random unspecific idea of what I wanted and she thought about it and designed something that is truly representative of who I am and my heart. Now that's awesome!!!

Next up is my friend Nicole whose awesomeness can not be measured or described by words. She cared so much about me that she not only gave of her own time and energy to help get me healthy, but made a way to hook me up with someone who had answers and solutions. I am healthier today than I was 5 months ago. I am living nearly 100% pain free for the first time since 2001. And I'm happier because I feel better. Nicole fought for healing for me, and that is the mark of the most awesome of friends. She never took no for an answer and she supports me everyday in my lifestyle changes and encourages me to keep going when it is tough. And she does this in spite of the fact that we live about 1,100 miles away from each other. Yup, awesomeness is defined in her. I know that someday we will be old and gray, sitting in rocking chairs knitting (because she has asked me to teach her) annoying our children's children by assaulting them with tales of how we used to dance hip hop with "stank faces". And they will think us so uncool. But we will know better.

All these women are very different, but they have a couple of things in common that increase their "awesomeness" factor. Firstly, they are all generous and kind in nature, willing to serve their friends and share of themselves. And they all consider me a friend. I'm not an easy person to love, but these three love me. That is awesomeness right there!

Also counted among the growing ranks of people who possess awesomeness:
Marsha, who shares my love of books, writing and lattes.
Meredith, who puts recipes on Facebook, and taught me about redemption.
Jacquie, who considers me her sister and taught me the importance of shoes.
Betsy, who challenges me and my opinions and keeps me "real".

There are many more, but this post is getting longer than I intended it to be. (I didn't even get into the men in my life who are awesomeness personified!) My point is this, if you want awesomeness around you, first pursue awesomeness yourself, and then appreciate awesomeness in others and tell them that you do! Tell them often. There are too many people in this world who pretend to have awesomeness but are really selfish and vain and all about themselves and what you can do for them. Awesomeness comes from a heart to love people with receiving nothing in return. (Although people who possess awesomeness do like to receive a thank you and an encouragement every now and again.) Awesomeness is birthed by love and kindness and generosity and those are traits that must be cultivated and practiced daily.

So practice some awesomeness today!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mother, May I?

My youngest turned 16 recently and obtained his driver's license. It is strange to think that I will never again chauffeur a child to and from school every day. That has been a responsibility of mine for so long that I find myself a bit freaked out at the extra time I have to get ready in the mornings. But mostly, I miss the rides to school in which my happy-go-lucky kid would sing and dance along to the radio and make me laugh. Being so NOT a morning person, he made my mornings a bit more bearable. We would stop for lattes and have great conversations. I now am struggling with feeling disconnected from him. Who knew I would take to motherhood so well.

You see, when I was younger, I insisted to anyone who would listen that I was never going to have children. Growing up in a family with complicated relationship issues made me not want the addition of someone elses needs in my life. I was purely out for myself, as most people in their teens and twenties are. And then I unintentionally got pregnant. And my life changed. I have raised two boys, (and helped raise my step-son and daughter) and although it has not been easy, it also hasn't been that bad either. I can honestly admit that I enjoy being around my kids more than anyone else in the world, except my husband. Especially now that they are all grown up.

I can look back and see the impact I have had on them that was not intentional on my part. My step daughter has a few mannerisms and ways of speaking that I know she got from me, as most people who don't know that I am not her mother will tell me how alike we are. I find that funny. My youngest son unfortunately shares my tendency to be unfocused and "flighty" at times. We both share an amazingly strange sense of humor that most other people don't understand. My older son inherited my generosity, my tendency to give other people everything I have even when I don't have it to give. He also has my tender heart, which has caused him much heartbreak that I wish he hadn't had to go through. Although there were things I intentionally tried to impart to them, (keep your room clean, don't lie, don't swear, finish your vegetables) it's the unintentional mannerisms that catch my attention the most these days. I don't look at the past years and see the things I didn't accomplish, I just see the memories that I didn't fully appreciate at the time.

I have been irrevocably changed by being a mother. I am softer, wiser, and probably funnier because of how my children have raised me. When you feed them brussel sprouts and two of them throw up and one cries the whole time like you've just murdered their kitten, you develop a sense of humor quick! But the biggest change has been my appreciation for my own mother. When I was younger, my mother and I did not get along so well. You see, those complicated family issues caused me to judge her and insist that she didn't understand me. But being a mother myself and raising teenagers opened my eyes to just how difficult it is. My mother did the best she could under the circumstances, as we all do, because, let's face the facts, we are not given a handbook for raising children that reads "If this happens (insert crises here) do this." I judge my mother less harshly and I appreciate her all the more for the woman that she is. We still disagree and I am convinced that there are things about me that she really doesn't understand, but she loves me, she loves her grandchildren, and for 50 years, she has loved my father. And she is a better woman than I used to give her credit for. Someday, I hope my children will say the same for me. That I loved them with all the love that one person can be capable of, that I appreciated them for who they are, and that when the chips were down, I was there for them. That is what makes motherhood fulfilling to me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sinuses, Sabers, and A Car Named Agnes...

So I was sitting thinking about what to write about this week. I have been struggling through some sinus headaches caused by allergies, and haven't been able to concentrate very clearly. So, I was a little worried that writing would be a bad idea. So I chose the safe route for updating. After all the drama of late, I figured I would just talk about what has been happening this week. It's been a week full of surprises and some really good laughs. A welcome change to last week.

So, most people know I used to be a dancer. And that I taught professionally for years. But about 5 years ago, for reasons to many and to complicated to mention right now, I quit. I didn't dance. I didn't teach. I didn't choreograph anything, save for a piece for my friends Corey and Meredith's wedding. But that was an extra special exception. So earlier this year, I felt ready to get back into the dance game, and held auditions for a new crew to work with. It has been slow. I've had some false starts. Last week, I had zero dancers. By Sunday, I had one. By Monday afternoon, I had four. Four amazing, talented, gifted dancers. Dancers who were quite game, and able to throw caution to the wind and create a piece to be done this Sunday. A piece set to music that can only be described as Beethoven on acid. A piece that includes sabers (swords) and flags, and some serious kick butt moves. And after two rehearsals, I am more excited to debut this piece than anything I have ever done professionally. So if any of you are around this area on Sunday, you might want to see this. It even marks my return to the stage, not that I really wanted it to. But I am training up a dance army so that I won't have to be dancing much longer. Really super excited about this, although I have had to dance and work with sinus issues, which makes simple pirouettes very difficult. The only thing I am sad about is that my friend and fellow dance warrior, Nicole is in Denver and won't be here to see an idea she helped shape finally come to life.

And in the funny but true category, we now have a car named Agnes. You heard me right, Agnes. Agnes is a teal green 1996 Ford Mustang that we gave to my youngest son for his 16th birthday. He and his friends were talking at lunch one day and the subject of car names came up, as his friend Nate had named his car Helga. That's right, Helga. See, these kids decided that girls have to give their cars boy names, such as his friend who named her car Vladimir the Impaler. (Of course, it's an Impala) So the guys decided that you couldn't give your car a normal name like Chelsea or Brittney. That would be too obvious, right? So instead they came up with names like Helga, Kitty, and of course, Agnes. My son explained to me that a Mustang has to have a tougher name, not one that would be girly. He said if a guy dated a Helga or an Agnes, you know that he'd be the quiet one in the relationship. "Really Mom," he says "a Helga could beat the crap out of you. I would never date a Helga. Helga and Agnes are most likely Swedish body builders."

Of course, this makes absolutely no sense to those of us over the age of 18, but it is quiet funny. That's what I love about my kid. He makes me laugh just by being him. So now we have a car named Agnes. Just another normal day in Collins-ville.