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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blogging just because

When I first started this blog four years one month three weeks and six days ago, I thought that it was going to be the start of my BIG WRITING CAREER. Not the one that I do for a day job. But the one that was going to lead to book deals and mornings on the Today Show couch and author signings. And who knows, maybe that's still in my future? (I did just start taking a fiction writing class...)

What I didn't know about blogging could fill my basement -- if there wasn't so much junk down there already. In the four years one month three weeks and six days since I embarked on this adventure, I've learned about RSS feeds and brand identity and self-promotion. I've gotten some cool opportunities. I've been approached to do reviews and giveaways. I've done guest posts for other bloggers and have had a few post on the 4th Frog Blog as well.

And what I've come to understand about myself is that I really love blogging just to blog. To write and share ideas and wait for the response and interaction with people who read. I have several blogger friends who depend on their blogs for income and that's awesome. But they work hard to make that happen and when it comes to blogging, that's not me. I don't want to junk up my page with a bunch of ads. I don't want to get all wrapped up in the numbers. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've checked my analytics to see how many people are reading.

Maybe that makes me a bad blogger and the 4th Frog Blog will get blacklisted from all those PR companies who send me stuff to write about. I'm not saying I won't ever write about products that I love (or hate) -- seriously, Diet Coke should be paying me already.

Maybe this is all just an age thing. I'm 42 years old and I've figured out that I'll do what I do because I enjoy it, not because someone is offering me something to do it. If those two things are present in an opportunity, great. But if not, thanks, I'll pass.

Am I a blogging anomaly? Is this admission the beginning of the end for the 4th Frog? I hope not. I don't plan for it to be. Seriously, I hope to be still writing and sharing and putting stuff out there that makes people laugh and think and smile four years one month three weeks and six days from today.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surrender and grace

Surrender.  It’s a word, a concept, a directive that’s been chasing me for years. Yes. I said years.

The first I remember it was when I read a book called Surrendering to Motherhood. It was written by a former Wall Street Journal reporter who had to come to terms with the fact that she couldn’t do it all. Couldn’t be it all. She had to give into the uncertainty and spontaneity of motherhood in order to really enjoy it.

A few years later, on a retreat, I felt God whispering “surrender” to me. It felt right – inviting even, and the idea of surrendering brought relief. But it didn’t last long.

And then more years on, a co-worker who practiced energy healing was working her magic on me, trying to alleviate a headache that just wouldn’t go away. She placed her hands above my head and said “I’m getting the word ‘surrender.’” Seriously. How long will it take me to learn this lesson?

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about this call to surrender. Envisioning what surrender would look like, I saw myself leaning into God. Resting against him. Again, it felt inviting. It was peaceful. I knew I was being taken care of. Loved in a gentle and unconditional way. Coming back to the present, aware of my surroundings, that surrendered heart was what I wanted.  Truly my heart’s desire.

Two days later, Mike broke his ankle and the idea of surrender went out the window. It was time to take charge. Line up reinforcements. Muscle through. March on.

That surrender thing? Something I didn’t have time for. Just thinking about it didn't give me a sense of peace or calm. It bristled my back and raised my defenses. There was no time for surrender. Surrender is sacrificed in the face of stress.

Earlier this week, I was talking to the same friend about I just have too much to take care of to even consider surrendering. And as we talked and I shared how I felt I just had to keep my hands on everything to maintain control, a new image, a new lesson came to me. 

The call to surrender is really an invitation to grace. By giving up my need to take care of everything, to be the director of the end all and be all, I am opening myself to the grace of God to move in my life. If I keep my hands clenched tightly on those things that just can't do without me, I have nothing with which to receive that grace. 

But if I let go and hold my hands empty and open, I have more than enough capacity to accept the grace that is offered to me, the grace to keep moving forward or the grace to stand in the moment and persevere. 

It's not a lesson I'll be able to put into practice all at once, I'm sure. But I have a notion that even small acts of surrender lead to more than enough grace.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


*Married white female in search of sunny, cheerful disposition

I've had the urge to blog lately, but I haven't because what I've wanted to say would have read like this:

Whine whine whine poor me poor me poor me grouse grouse grouse harumph harumph harumph whine whine whine wahhhh wahhhh wahhhh.

And who wants to read that?

So I've stayed away from the keyboard. I wish my default attitude was happy-go-lucky. Maybe like this:

Ok. Maybe not just like that, but you get the idea. About the only benefit of having a frown being the go-to facial expression is that it might burn more calories because it uses more muscles than smiling does.

When I stop to think about my life, I see how ridiculous it is to be whiny and harumphy. I have so many great people and great things in my life. I'm just in that season of life where the busy-ness of life overshadows the joy.

But this week, I'm going to work on embracing the joy, on finding a smile and wearing it often. I think I'll start with this little gem I found on Pinterest.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Monday went down(hill)

My Monday started at 1:30am, when I went to bed. I stayed up late working on a project for work, one that I had to present at our 9am staff meeting. Bed at 1:30, alarm at 6am, hit snooze once or twice (or thrice). "I might get 5 hours of sleep," I thought to myself.

Enter Charlie with a bloody nose at 3:30am.

"Mom? Mom?" Why do they never ask for Dad? "I have a bloody nose and it's all over my pillow."

Ok. Out of bed, tend to bloody nose, be compassionate to big boy until the red tide has stopped and he's ok with going back to bed.4am. Zzzzzzzzzz.

6am. Boing! Boing! Boing! Annoying ring tone signals it's time to hit the snooze button.

6:09am. Boing! Boing! Boing! Snooze.

6:18am Boing! Boing! Boing! Oh crap!

"Anniecharlierobbie! Everyone up!"

Hop in the shower. Lather, rinse, out. Grab some clothes, attempt to shake the wrinkles out. Head downstairs to dish up honey nut genericOs and pack a carbalicious lunch for Robbie.

"Anniecharlie! Are you up? Robbie -- go get some socks from the sock basket. Charlie, I need to hear you...Robbie, now put the socks on. Your feet. Not on the kitchen table. Mike! Are you getting ready? She's gonna be here in 15 minutes! Kids come get your medicine. Robbie, the socks. NOW. Ok. Now shoes. Check the basement. Take this medicine. Charlie! You're gonna miss the bus. Come get your medicine. Annie, go start the car and turn on the defroster. Charlie..."

Up goes my hand, with Charlie's ADD medicine in it. Pop goes the pill in my mouth. Swig of Diet Coke and "Oh crap! What did I just do?! That wasn't my medicine."

And that was just the start to my day. I dropped the kids at their varied places, discovered two holes in the back of my shirt, and headed to a doctor's appointment. It was a new doctor in a new building. I found it easily enough, but wasn't sure which of the 4 entrances I should use. So I pulled into a spot, got out the registration letter and headed for an entrance. Clearly, the ADD meds hadn't kicked in yet because this is how I left my car in the parking lot:



Off to the office, late for the meeting where I was scheduled to present the project I'd stayed up until 1:30am working on. You know, the project that my boss said during the meeting that we didn't really have time to discuss and could I just give a re-cap? That same meeting that I looked down at the agenda and saw another assignment that I was supposed to have finished but completely spaced.

Oh yeah, Monday was not loving me at that moment. Trust me, the feeling was mutual.

But things were looking up. Everyone in my office was set to go out to lunch to celebrate my birthday (belatedly). As the birthday girl, I got to pick the restaurant. So I did. But that place was deemed too far away. Plan B was a great Mexican place within walking distance of the office. I could almost taste the fish tacos and guacamole just thinking about them. That's as close I was going to get today...we walked there only to realize the place is closed on Mondays.

After lunch at Plan C, it was back to the office. My thoughts were racing (maybe those ADD meds?) and I had a tough time shaking the anxiety of the day. What happened next told me with no uncertainty that I had crossed into the danger zone.

I started thinking about how I would probably feel much better if I went for a walk. People, do you see what happened? The events of the day transcended my usual instincts to inhale some chocolate or find a donut STAT. Instead the unthinkable happened -- my stress had driven me to the point of CONTEMPLATING. EXERCISE. I told you it was serious.

Not wanting to get all sweaty, I opted instead to tune into the "relaxation station" on Pandora Radio. Some deep breathing and I was able to finish the work day.

The evening finished out circling back to get Mike's laptop bag that he left in the car of the woman nice enough to transport him to work and back; the younger-than-me people at Target giving me a whatchutalkinaboutwillis look when I said something about the Keystone Cops in reference to my day; and my internet connection blinking in and out as I am trying to finish this blog post.

Now I really need to hop in the bathtub and shave my legs. But I think I'll wait until Tuesday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Follow me this way...

I've got a guest post up at Eternal Lizdom today.

Liz is an example of the great benefits of being part of the blogosphere. We met through social media and became friends in real life. She invited guest posts when she went to a faith conference at Disney World. The mood struck and I wrote.

Follow me this way for "It's a God thing, or is it?"

When you're finished, stick around and read some more of Liz's blog. If you're not already a follower, you probably will be.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You know you're a Catholic...

... when you see this guy at the grocery store and mutter to him "G'morning Father" before you realize it's just a guy in a rain poncho.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thinking out loud

My back hurts.
My front sags.

My iron is low.
My blood pressure is high.

I cough when I laugh
and pee when I cough.

My saddle bags hurt.
(I didn't even know I had saddlebags until they started hurting.)

I have weight to spare and
I run out of breath.

I wake when I sleep
and want to sleep when I'm awake.

I take twice as many medications
as I have children.

I've lost control
and gained 50 pounds.

Something has got to change.

I don't want to join a group, find a partner, write down what I eat, bribe myself to reach some arbitrary goal. I don't want to talk about it, pray about it, think about it. I want to ignore it. But it won't let me. Because every day when I get up,

My back hurts.
My front sags...