Category Archives: Daily Happenings

The Devaluing of the Fiction Story

Once upon a time there was a fiction story written. It was taken from true facts, stories and the many experiences of the author on the topic. The readers rejoiced to see the story come to life and feel as though they experienced it.

But the naysayers came up to say, “Is it a true story? If it is fiction we cannot have it. We need to read true stories.”

The fact of the matter is, most truth is stranger than fiction. If you have read a fiction novel and it made you look up the facts, it has done its job. The author likely created the story with facts, and made up a story around it. Other times a fiction story is written with true facts that cannot be revealed as the truth.

I wrote a fiction novel that will never be published, based off of life experiences I had. At one point, I shared a portion of it with someone and some of the comments were laughable. The points they called out as unrealistic and too much fiction, were facts and experiences that had happened to me. I realized then that I could never publish a non fiction book of my life or people would do this even more so.

Yes, I have had an odd life. It is not one you would read everyday, as even to myself when I start to repeat what I have experienced, I stop and think, “How on earth?”

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When you read a fiction novel, instead of thinking, “Is this a true story?” look at the facts that it is based on and what you can learn from it. If you find yourself irritated by fiction, take some time to look at your life and why that is.

Fiction at times, can be the most truth telling about a life. It is often protecting those that cannot share their stories in the most pure form.

When you critique a book, realize to look at it in a critical format, without partiality.

  1. When was the setting of the book?
  2. Were times different then than now?
  3. Why am I assuming that I know more than the author that spent many, many years of research before writing this book, without looking it up? (Always look it up before you critique, I learned that the hard way).
  4. Distinguish that fiction allows liberties and not everything has to be factual, but you want to figure out the difference, usually by reading the authors notes.

These are helpful when you post a book review or critically offer suggestions. Fiction is valuable. Let’s stop putting it in a secondary place value.

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Homeschooling: How is it done?

Education looks different for everyone.

How I do it may not work for you. Sometimes I am not sure if it is working for me. But everyday I seek to perfect it, and make it better.

I know a lot of families that make education their secondary priority. Homeschooling or traditional schooling, it doesn’t matter, it happens in both. School is not the priority and the kids end up getting the short end of the stick.

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Homeschool Basketball team top in West side of State

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Homeschoolers play competitive Sports

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Science Lab-Placenta

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Learning how to care for trauma victims

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Titanic Tea

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Book Club

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Workhouse Kitchen Diorama

These are a few photos of some of the things we do with homeschooling. What you don’t see here is the nitty gritty part of the days. I am seeking constantly to make sure my children are doing their work and staying on top of it. I have one away at  a university in his Junior year, one that is working on his own business and for a local company, and two in high school. My homeschooling days are winding down, and I have learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. What I mean by that is that if you are struggling to keep up, your kids are all not getting things done, it is time for outside help. I know, I know. It is expensive, you don’t have the money for it, and all that. Your kids are worth it. If you don’t want them to think you neglected their education, don’t neglect this.
  2. Teaching other peoples kids is easier than teaching your own. Maybe trade off with someone, join in teaching classes and send your kid to someone else’s class.
  3. Sports helps kids learn better. Exercise can work out a lot of pent up emotion and work out some of the struggles that stop their brain from working.
  4. If nothing is going right today, push through. Don’t put off for tomorrow. You will just end up farther and farther behind as something will always come up. Make it different than you tried, use videos, books, interpretative dance, music, whatever, but do something every single day. What? There is no behind in homeschooling? I am sorry, but there is.
  5. If you can’t get school done at home, find a school that works for their needs, hire a tutor or something, but don’t give your kids the short end of the stick because you can’t do it.

Now, time to take my own lessons and apply them this week. =)

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Failure?

What is failure?

To me, I see it is in the eyes of the beholder.

We look at what someone else did and we see they have failed to do what we believe they should have done.

In another’s eyes, they may be happy with what is being done, and irritated by what the first person expected.

So, did we fail? Or did we succeed?

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For me, this picture represented some of the produce I grew this summer. For an accomplished gardener, it may have been a failure.

It was a success for me.

In our lives we will have people that speak into them. They will speak into our lives telling us what we did right and what we did wrong. More often, it is easier to hear what we did right, but what will stick with us is what we did wrong.

I was hammered by opinions and talk these last few weeks. It was overwhelming to the point that I realized something. There comes a point where it becomes about putting someone down, without building them up. There are some amazing people that cared, spoke up and really fought through to make sure people heard that they loved enough to strive for the truth.

There were others that do not do this.

It is hard to go into the next week without seeing failure. It might have been that grade you got on a test. It might have been the friend that told you that you had poor style. It may have been the sermon at church talking about how to have a perfect marriage, when yours is less than perfect. Failure.

I know I learned with my kids that if all you focus on is punishment, you will never reap the reward of your child coming to you when they messed up. What they expect from you is punishment. But when you have build them to the point that when they mess up, they admit it, humble themselves and learn from it, with natural punishments rather than forced ones, they learn to trust.

A group I visited online earlier was discussing things in the world, that are pretty standard. The group defended speaking poorly of someone, because they looked scary to them. The words were cruel and hateful, in any form, let alone someone who was claiming to be a supposed follower of Someone that never spoke like that. My comment was deleted, along with some of the hateful comments, but the shame I carried remained. I stopped though to think, maybe the fear that bespoke the response this person had came from someone who felt they had failed. They were only shown hate towards those that didn’t match perfection, and therefore knew no different.

It made me sad for them.

Failure is a state of mind or being.

As I face this next week, I am going to remind myself that I am not perfect. I don’t expect myself to be so anymore, and I do not need to fear punishment. We can go through life and make mistakes, own them and move forward. Our lives can be better for learning through peaceful correction and love. The hate does not have to rule that drives us to feel we failed.

 

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Silencing those that Speak Up

In my last post, I spoke on fake support. This one goes along with that a bit, in silencing those that speak up.

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When you look around in  a room full of people, what do you see?

You see people.

When you are speaking, you are often speaking from your own experience and may use phrases that to you are clear. You think the person in front of you is coming from similar beliefs, background and therefore will take what you say the same way.

I would love for you to stop, think and listen more before we use phrases that silence.

It could be a topic that encompasses any subject, polarizing or not. You may be in a place where you think everyone is anti- abortion, and make a comment, “Only an insane person would ever consider an abortion.”

You do not know who you are speaking to and if that was something that they have experienced. It shuts down relationships that have any depth.

On Social Media, when you post praising someone that has abused others, defend them and claim that “It was in the past.” or “It was not like it seems,”, you tell the people in your social circle that have been abused that they cannot trust you. If they came to you, and told you of abuse they were suffering, would you say, “Abuse is such a buzzword these days. Everyone has been “abused”.”

I would hope not. But when you say it online, or in passing conversation, someone that has experienced abuse hears that you do not believe her. She is not going to be able to come to you for support.

I know, I know. Many people will say that they have freedom to speak, they should be able to say what they want on their own places without having to think about everyone else in the world.

But is that really how it should be?

Everyone has filing cupboards in their head, or at least I do. You have files of people you like, but they are not safe people to tell any info outside the surface level. When I hear statements that shut others down, I add them to the file.

It doesn’t mean I am not around them, but I am not going to ask them for help when I am in trouble.

Our lives are short. We never know when the end will come. If we want to be trustworthy people in this life, think before you speak.

A few practical ways you can do this.

  • Use supportive words.
  • Don’t assume political parties or affiliations
  • Do not use shaming words like “Buzzword” or “Drama Queen”.
  • Don’t hide your discrimination or racism in your faith.
  • Say, “I hope anyone that is struggling in that way feels I can be a support even though I have never been through it.”

 

 

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Unsupportive?

Society tends to look at themselves as being supportive and offering unbiased support of others.

However, there are sly ways that people are often unsupportive that can come across as being “holy”, “protecting themselves” or the like.

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Phrases like “There are two sides to ever story”. “I am just tired of the drama.” or “We just need to not give them a platform.” are phrases that while can sound good, are really silencing techniques.

I recently heard a critique of the book above, that was similar to this. Basically, the storyline was so depressing to them, it was worthless. Instead they went and gave their time to something that had no depressing info in it at all.

I get it. We like to pretend these kind of things don’t happen. We like to pretend that Tara Westover was being dramatic. It is easier than realizing this is happening in our own communities and before our eyes.

I know when I have shared experiences I have had, I get a couple of reactions. It is either pity or possibly scorn. Another reaction can be that it is depressing and I am bringing the mood down.

I would love to see people think before they speak on that. Do you have any idea how hard it is for someone to speak on traumatic topics like this?

It is your choice whether to read it or not. It is not your choice to ignore it. When you stick your head in the sand and think, “I can’t handle it.”, you ignore others that are in your community. You may think it is “just a book”, “just a story”. For many people, a book may be the story they can’t write themselves.

You don’t know how many people can relate to “just a book” and hearing it that it was “dramatic” might be insulting those that are your readers.

But, if something is bringing up too much from the past for you, it could be that this is a healthy response to have your memories triggered in a way that means you need to deal with them.

Get a therapist.

Make time to see one.

But don’t shut other people down because you can’t handle drama. That downplays their experience. Be honest instead. Even using the word “drama” to describe a situation that is traumatic for someone is really painful.

“This is traumatizing for me. I am not able to handle this now.” is a healthier statement.

A better one can be, “I am so sorry for what has happened to you. However, I feel I am not the best person to talk to about it since I have my own traumas. Can I give you a referral to someone I think would be good?”

Learn to think carefully as you speak. It will bear more fruit than the flippant ways of dealing with people with traumatic pasts.

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Top Ten Reads 2019

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What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

Quote from my review:

“The quote from one of the women that testified in court was stated in this book, and it stuck with me. “Perhaps you have figured it out by now. Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

This woman writing the story enabled many, many women to testify against their abuser. I believe this story will continue to inspire many more to speak out against abuse in every way. We are not seeking revenge, but justice and safety for every child.”

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How much is a Little Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

You’re beautiful, worthy, and you should be loved
Because of all that you are.
Different from anything else in the world,
You are precious beyond the stars.”

A book that is applicable to both young and old, male and female, and will have you choking up if you try to read it aloud. Worth every penny to buy.

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One Woman Falling by Melanie Campbell

“It is rare that a novel is written talking about the topic of domestic violence in an accurate way without being too graphic or not very accurate.
Take a walk through the life of a woman experiencing domestic violence and her journey to safety, done in one of the best ways I have ever seen in a novel. The author did her research when she wrote this book, and while some, the fear would be that this book could cause triggers to arise. I would say that this book will be empowering for you. It will can help you go through the steps of seeing the abuse, achieving safety, Finding hope and establishing new patterns. This is a manual packed into a novel without feeling like you got preached at.
It is also an amazing story.”

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The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden 

“I loved the history with Washington politics, Good Housekeeping, and also the secondary characters with blindness. I am so thankful to people that fought to have ingredients disclosed on labels for us. I am really excited to see this is a series as well, as I want to know more about the siblings.”

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As the Light Fades by Catherine West 

“This story was so meaningful to me. She shows how a realistic women’s fiction story can be inspiring and not depressing in the least bit. I loved every second of reading it and highly recommend it.”

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The Pages of Her Life by James L Rubart 

“Do you ever read a book and stop to wonder if it was written just for you (but you know it wasn’t)?

I can’t count many times I did that with this book. I was sitting there, absorbing the story and thinking about how real and just amazingly deep this story was.”

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Educated by Tara Westover

“It is weird when you read a book that you relate to so well, without feeling like she placed blame where it was not due.
I would say if there is a tone to describe a book, this one is gentle…..
She told her story of her journey. The stories of her family, which I was not surprised to see a backlash from her family that believe they are doing what is right, and she did not judge them, but protected herself by having to be separate from them.”

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Broken Heart Strings by Staci Stallings

If there can be an author that combines non-fiction and fiction, it is Staci Stallings. I learned so much from this novel in addressing hard life issues. You walk through it with Nelson and Paige.  I loved the way the teacher was teaching with film as well.

 

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Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay 

“If you are a book lover, a book that features other book lovers warms your heart. This book is totally that way.
The author takes a story of friendship surrounding books that will make you wish the bookstore truly exists somewhere. One thing that is unique about this story is that none of the characters have it “all together”. They have messed up, some more than others. They were not really destined to be friends, until life throws them together.

Love, forgiveness and finding what is truly important in life are the themes of this novel. It is published as Christian fiction, but it is more for the thread of hope, love and forgiveness throughout the novel than for sermons, bible verses and quotes.

I found myself wanting to highlight portions of the novel and remember what was said. I would highly recommend it.”

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An Hour Unspent by Roseanna White 

This book has such an intriguing hero that he overshadows the heroine. I loved the history, but also the family that chose themselves.

 

 

 

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The Realities of the Holiday Season

Lights. Cookies Baking. Sitting by the fireplace.

Many times when you think of the holidays, they may revolve around family, food or traditions.

What do I think of when I think of the holiday season?

This year, I am working hard, as not only do I run my own business, but I work part time  as a prep person for a private Amazon seller.

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Home Rental 

Paychecks were late coming in, so I am thinking about bills, making sure I got to the bank on time as well.

Many days, I wake up early and while not all the work is paid, I am working until late at night. A comment yesterday, a derogatory one, set me back on my heels wondering if I am making a difference at all.

As a single parent, I know I am not alone. I work three part time jobs to make ends meet. I am on call 24/7 and don’t get breaks for holidays. If I don’t work, we don’t have money. I am doing well, so we don’t get Christmas handouts, and we are fine with that.

This is a bit of a montage of what the realities of my holidays look like.

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My son playing basketball

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We watch a lot of basketball this time of year.

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My book pile that I may or may not have time to read.

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Does this look like a potluck? Nope. History Class. We were studying the Titanic and had a food related class.

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The sign was a gift from a grateful student at one of my part time jobs that I do as a teacher. I teach History and Science.

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CPR Class certification that I set up for my students. We had some brilliant teachers.

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Plug cover missing from a rental where I did move out, new lease signing, repairs and other things to get it ready for the next occupant.

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Ravioli Making Day! 40 dozen raviolis made!

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Aren’t they pretty?

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A new occupant for our home. We have wanted one for awhile, but it was not something we were able to do until now.

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A box, from one of the many boxes of items that came in and out of the house. This one had a ruptured bottle in it. It caused many issues for me, and Ulta doesn’t have the best customer service, I have learned.

Lights? Fireplace sittings? Decor?

No. Not for me. There are so many expectations of the holiday season. Cooking, cleaning, baking and the like. I am aiming for survival and doing ok at it. I am unpacking my life issues with this time of the year as well. I am seeking to volunteer where I can to make a difference in the lives of others.

People may make their comments, because my house is not perfect, my life doesn’t look like everyone else’s and I struggle to get everything done. But in the end, I am thankful and grateful for what we do have. I have work. I have a home. I have heat.

I have the ability to enjoy life with my boys and those are the things that really matter.

 

If you are someone that is facing life this holiday season alone, as I know many of you are, I am standing with you. I know life is hard. I know it is hard to see all the photos of the beauty of Christmas at times.

My reality framed in a different way could look totally different. I could make it sound romantic and amazing. In reality, my house ends up filled with packing material, cardboard and dirty dishes that I don’t have time to take care of. Yet, I am thankful. I am thankful that I am free from a life of oppression. I am free to get a cat. I am free to leave the dishes if I need to. Freedom doesn’t come at a low cost, there is always pain in it.

But in the end, that is what the meaning of this season is to me. It is about freedom and reclaiming what is lost.

 

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Stress. Anxiety. Self-Doubt.

What do these words have in common?

They often are buzz words that we hear today, driven by a society that leaves us little time to reflect.

How do we change it? Does it mean because they are buzz words, they are inaccurate?

A relative was telling me how anxiety is the plague of the modern generation. They are fearful of things that are not something to be afraid of. It is controlling their lives to the point that they are disabled by it. Does that mean the anxiety is not real?

No.

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The reality is our lives are fast paced. We are on a hamster wheel that we have created for our society, but we are unable to get off.

We spend energy on things like not using rain water collection, restricting raw milk, and other laws that have had good reasons, but waste people’s time and energy in forcing the matter.

We have a higher need than ever for people that have Emotional Support Animal’s, but some people care more about themselves than anyone else around them. Other people care so little for themselves, they will do anything for someone else, but restrict their mercy to others, and will not extend it to themselves.

So how can we change our lives?

This is the million dollar question that no one seems to have the answer to.

I work three different jobs at the moment, plus a side job as a doula.  I am making a living, but at what cost?

How will my health be affected?

Yesterday I went to get my oil changed. They always take forever, but I enjoy it. It is like a mini vacation. You are stuck in a comfortable chair with your book, free wi-fi, tea and snacks.

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I got to thinking though. If this is the closest we get to relaxing, reflecting and slowing down, is this the way we want to live?

I live fairly simply. But for example, my phone stopped charging well recently. I investigated what it would cost to replace it. I could get a used one, that may die again in about a year, or I could spend over $600 for the bottom of the line phone on a similar system to what I am used to. They offer a payment plan, which is not something I am ok with usually, so it irritates me. Why I am trapped now, in a society where if I do not have a good cell phone that meets my needs, I could lose my business.

It is a business expense, but one that I was not counting on the moment.

Expenses that come up like this can drain you of energy, but also make you feel slightly trapped.

What is the answer?

I long at times for reducing my expenses to a minute amount where I can be earning less and thriving more.

I am mystified at this battle I am engaged in.

Recently I had to decline going to something I wanted to go to because I had a previous engagement. Do you know what the previous engagement was?

It was my shower. Yes, I had been battling to find time to take a shower, in bussing kids to college, running bank disbursements to the bank, mailing packages, dealing with delinquent UPS drivers that missed packages, settling insurance claims, and just the basic stuff, it is the really basic stuff that gets missed. When it comes time where I have to schedule a shower and eating in so it can get done, it is to a point that is not healthy.

Last night I woke up at 4 am in a pool of sweat from anxiety. I walked the house to make sure everything was ok, which it was, but the temp in the home was about 50’s-60’s. It was not hot.

On the surface though, I am here. I am thriving. I am keeping up. I am “amazing”. I am working hard. I am here for everyone else. I love that, but I also don’t want to collapse and fail.

What are the answers you have found to reduce Stress, Anxiety and other evils of daily life?

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First World Blindness?

I was listening to a speaker give a talk recently and had thoughts flood through my brain.

I started scribbling notes as I thought, and figured I could share them with you all.

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We live a fairly sheltered life when it comes to poverty, many people would say. But still in that, comes a certain amount of blindness to the kinds of poverty we have here.

My mom is visiting Africa right now, and no, our poverty looks different than it looks there.

(You can find some of her adventures here on “Adventures of a Midwife”)

This was a new kitchen that she shared a photo of.

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For us, in most First world countries, we would be thinking that this was not something we could live with.

This would not be a grocery experience that we would think was adequate.

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I often see posts on social media how they can’t make ends meet, or make their special diets work. They have to have gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, low carb and the like. I am not anti-special diets. They are needed to help people remain healthy. But sometimes I think, we allow our mentality and freedom to choose take away our common sense.  I think sometimes reframing how we think about nutrition and food, and what we think we “need”, we could be much healthier eating simply.

What if we walked everywhere? Could you eat rice, beans and squash every day?

What if you only ate what you could grow in your yard? Would you take the time to cultivate your yard more?

I struggle with this as I lack time. I am so busy working to survive, that I don’t have the time to often do everything needed like that. But what if I simplified things, so that I needed less, and gained time?

Often when you hear people talk about saving money in the USA, at least, we hear the old adages.

“Stop ordering coffee once a week and you will save $260 a year.”

“Everyone has $5-$30 to spare. You can find it somewhere to share with us or save.”

 

What if you never order coffee? What if your grocery budget is $5-$30?”

Often people think that in this country of plenty, there are not any hungry people. They talk about food banks, food stamps, and other programs to help those in need.

I will say that I have been a starving person in America. I did not have access to food banks, food stamps or any program to help with food. Later when I had access, I had been taught how wrong it was to use those programs, so refused, and even if I could get past that, the judgment from others that went towards the people that did was enough to make it more worthwhile to starve.

I remember standing in the grocery store, staring at the apples and wishing I had the money to buy one. I had $5 to spend for food. I bought a loaf of bread, some flour and yeast and a thing of turkey ham, if I remember right that time. It was enough when combined with things in my pantry at home that I could make some meals. If I could get a vegetable, I would buy cabbage or lettuce.

There were times that I had $20 for the month to purchase food for the family. It is shameful, but we would go dumpster diving to look for expired food that was in packages to use. If it was still cold, we would wash off the packages and eat good. I remember being so happy to find some meat and tortillas.

We read books on wild foraging. Rose hip jam with homemade bread, soups with wild onion and garlic, steamed cattails were things we tried or my friends did. We didn’t like everything. Wild meat from hunting or animals that were raised was used as well.

You learn how to survive, but not always thrive. I lived in a brain fog. I would frequently pass out from exercise, even though I was a healthy person. I suffered a broken bone from lack of nutrition and poor medical follow up caused me long term issues.

Poverty in a first world country is not as rare as you think. Sometimes it is caused from people making poor choices. Occasionally it is people ending up in abusive situations that cause them to be stranded in those poor choices. We were eventually restricted from dumpster diving for food as the leaders felt it was a poor example to the community. The issue still remained that we were lacking food.

So, what is the answer?

I think that sometimes there are multiple avenues you can go with this.

  1. Identify the poor in your community.
  2. Seek out ways to help them to find safety, choices and healing not by always giving them a hand out, but offering them a helping hand to find resources to be independent.
  3. Don’t assume that there are not any poor in your area that might need help. These are not the ones you will see at the food bank usually. These are more likely the ones serving in the community.
  4. Look for the overwhelmed that seem like maybe they need help with yard work, they have extra stuff around or might need help in more physical ways. Often we don’t realize that poverty can mean you can’t do landscaping, or afford to get rid of things. It might mean you are stuck with repairs that need to be done, and you just live with it the way it is.
  5. Don’t be entitled. It can be hard to realize that something that is so simple to you, like hiring a plumber, or mowing your grass, might be out of reach for them. They may not be able to pay the plumber or buy a mower, if they want their kids to eat that week.
  6. Watch for things like being unable to obtain medical care, they don’t have socks, their shoes are old, or perhaps struggle with personal hygiene. Toothpaste, deodorant and soap can sometimes be out of reach, especially if all the money is going to food or electricity.
  7. Never shame someone for taking government assistance or using programs to help get out of the situation. Don’t say, “Well, someone is paying for that. It isn’t free.” While true, those words can shame the very people we are wanting to help, rather than stopping the ones that abuse it.

It is easy when we have never experienced it, to think that someone is lazy. It is easy to think that they just need to pull up their boot straps and get it done.

The poor in America are not like in a third world country, but they in some ways, have a greater disadvantage. They are the working poor. The overlooked. Others do not see them. They are most likely sitting next to you in church. They are likely working with you. They may be a teacher at your school or a student.

Don’t turn a blind eye on the poor of America. They need us to be able to be the support of the nation.

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Failure.

Have you ever felt like a failure? IMG_0914

That was supposed to be a world cake. What? You can’t see it?

What happens when you feel like your life is categorized by the little or big things in life and determine your value?

Do you listen to the voices that tell you that you are a failure?

Recently one of my children had a decision they had to make. I knew I needed to be there on the journey and support their decision, even if I felt it was not the right one. But I couldn’t stop hearing the nagging voice that told me that if they made the decision that I felt was wrong, I had failed.

Had I?

Was I a failure because someone chose to walk a different pathway than I would choose?

No. I wasn’t.

Did I fail at making a tasty cake and decorating it in the photo above? Yes. I did. Did that define me as a person? Determine my value?

No.

Many times other people in our lives will make decisions that impact us. They may circle around and make us look like we failed.

A spouse abandons their family. Someone refuses to get a job. A meal gets ruined because of a mistake. The list could go on and on.

Do those define us as failures?

IMG_6900

Those do not define us as failures anymore than something going right determines we are a success. We may have had a failure in our life. Something may not have gone right, but we are not what we do.

Stop, look around at the people instead. Do horrible things happen?

Yes. But they do not define us. Make wise choices in the chaos. Make healthy choices in the places you can in your life. But don’t allow others choices to dictate your success or failure.

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