Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five Things

Sometimes you just know God is trying to tell you something. Recently, a friend posted a little ditty about 5 things that will ensure you have a miserable week. When I read this, I really took notice:

Having a miserable week is easy; just do these five things each day:
• worry a lot
• focus on getting rich
• compare yourself to others
• cling to unrealistic expectations
• be 10 minutes late everywhere you go.

Seriously, who wants that? But it's easy for one bad choice to lead to another; adding up to a rotten week. Wise words.

Well let me tell you. I am a self-professed fretter. I usually justify it as anticipating and troubleshooting, but if I was honest with myself, I would call it worrying. I worry if I’ll get it all done. I worry if I’ve made the right decision. I worry if my family will like the dinner I’ve prepared. I worry if I’m good enough, if I’m doing enough, if I’m even close to getting it right.

I have to cut myself some slack because I never focus on getting rich. That makes me laugh a little. I don’t buy lottery tickets, I don’t gamble, I don’t even have a paying job. I am not focused on getting rich in the least. Charlie might even say I might be focused on making us not rich.

But when my eyes rolled over “compare yourself to others” my heart sank. I was convicted. I am always doing a little “measuring”.  I sometimes think about the career woman who wears stylish shoes and fashionable clothes. I think that she “gets to go to lunch” at nice places with interesting people. I think about my trivial errands or silly volunteer work and feel extremely inadequate. I notice the beautiful girl parked next to me at Target. I notice her beautifully coordinated, perfectly fitting, workout attire and I grimace at my lumps and bumps. The skort that I love to wear because it’s so comfortable suddenly seems so frumpy. I have skipped over everything positive about myself and highlighted every flaw, real or imagined. Comparing yourself to others serves no purpose other than to fill you with self-doubt and accentuate every little insecurity.

Do I cling to unrealistic expectations? I am almost certain of it. I expect people to do the right thing. I expect my children to do what I ask the first time I ask them. I expect my husband to read my mind. I expect every stop light to be green. I expect the puppy to “do his business” immediately when I take him out. I suffer from chronic unrealistic expectations which leads to chronic aggravation.

Late? Well, let’s just start out by saying I was two weeks late gracing the world with my presence at the time of my birth. I am late. I am a late riser. I’m a late-night person. I’m late even when I’m trying to be early. I make myself late. My children not meeting my unrealistic expectations make me late. My dog who takes forever to do his business makes me late. My husband usually tells me we have to leave 15 minutes before we really do, because he knows I’m always late. “Tara Time” is late. I hate being late. It drives me nuts and I can see how it can really add to making a miserable week.

So this little helpful hint really got me thinking. I don’t want to have a miserable week. I decided to be proactive and to change the way I approach these problem areas.

Worry. Well, I still have my share of worries, but I am making a conscious effort to pray when I worry. I pray for peace, for strength, for patience, for direction. I pray. When I pray I seem to think about all the things I am grateful for. When I am grateful, there is no room for worry. My load is instantly lighter.

Focus on getting rich. Well, I am focusing on spending my money wisely. I’m balancing needs and wants. I’m focusing on sharing what I have with others.

Compare yourself to others. I am thinking about the amazing things my body did to bring my two precious girls into this world. I may not have a terrific career and lunch with interesting people in wonderful places, but I am blessed to be home with my children. I am free to volunteer in their schools, pick them up in carline, and personally deliver them to their dance classes. Maybe there are working moms out there who wish they could do that, too. I am giving myself permission to shut that little guilt door and not getting my self-worth or validation from how I think I measure up to the person next to me. I am reminding myself that we are human. We all have ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad, struggles and triumphs. The honest to goodness truth is that we just don’t know what the other person has been through or might be going through right this minute. These kinds of comparisons are not uplifting or encouraging. They are counter-productive and are based on skewed data. It’s unusable. It’s irrelevant.

Cling to unrealistic expectations. A wise man once told me that if you don’t “expect” anything, you can’t be disappointed. Expectations are not a bad thing. It’s the unrealistic aspect that gets me into trouble. I am breathing a lot more these days. I am shifting gears. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be perfect. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t achieved perfection yet. I will never be perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. Letting this go is truly liberating. And I will be completely honest. I still have some serious expectations. They are well-conceived, highest of the high, but with a little grace, mercy and forgiveness woven in there too.

Being late. This one I’m still working on, but instead of telling myself I have to walk out the door at 11:45, I tell myself 11:40. I know this is difficult to believe, but I’ve actually been early a few times this week. I know, it’s unheard of!

God used an email that a friend received and chose to share on Facebook to minister to me. Those words really affected me. They got me thinking and based on all that thinking, I’ve been making changes. Those changes have made my days a little less stressful and a lot more productive. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Father was blessing me through others. He reached right out to me through others. He is an amazing God and He knows exactly what I need. He knows my heart like no other.  And you know what?  He wants to do exactly the same thing for you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Tradition of the "Birthday Frock"

Birthdays are a rite of passage. We all have them. You might have noticed, as I have most recently, that birthdays seem to be a lot more fun when you are young and there is a slip ‘n slide involved. I have always adored birthdays. I love the celebration, the cake, the presents, but most of all, I love the birthday frock.

“What is a birthday frock?” you ask.

Well, it is that fabulous little number you get especially for your special day.

I have had a number of them over the years. One in particular stands out in my mind. I believe it was on my 19th birthday. My Aunt Bobbie gave me a beautiful, albeit simple, pale pink sleeveless dress with a draped neckline. I wore it on my birthday. My grandmother made spaghetti and the most wonderful three layered strawberry cake. My dress matched the cake! And I felt FABULOUS!

When I was in college one summer, I was taking Public Relations. Ben Hobbs was my professor. He had a reputation for being tough as nails and was unpopular with the Communications students. I know for a fact that his bark was far worse than his bite, and he was really quite the softie underneath all that gruff. Having an August birthday, I had never had to attend school on my actual birthday. I was devastated to learn that not only was I going to be in class on my birthday, but I was going to have a major presentation. We were supposed to present in business attire, but since it was my birthday, I pleaded with Mr. Hobbs to allow me to wear my new birthday frock. I thought he was going to fall out of his old, rickety, rolling chair. He agreed as long as it wasn’t my birthday “suit”. I wish I had a picture of that one. It was floral (forest green with bright coral and purple flowers) with a portrait collar and long flowing skirt—definitely NOT business attire.

So through the years, I’ve always gotten a birthday frock.

On my 22nd birthday, my grandmother sent me to Saks Fifth Avenue, armed with her charge card. Katie, the saleslady, had a dressing room filled with beautiful cocktail dresses in my size when I arrived. I chose a fabulous white lace sheath with a square neckline. I wore it to the ballet, “Cinderella”. THAT was a fabulous birthday frock. 

By the time my 23rd birthday rolled around, I was in the working world and actually having to WORK on my birthday. I bought a Maggie of London dress with big black buttons down the back that year and wore it with beautiful black pumps. I also enjoyed dinner at Butterazzi’s that night and was later surprised with a limo full of friends for a fun night on the town.

Apparently in my younger years,
the birthday frocks were rather SHORT!
Each birthday was different, but always great fun. Some years the birthday frocks were simpler than others.
Then there was the one when I was rained on.

One year, my dress actually had fringe on the bottom.
And I really liked that one!
Then there was the halter phase I went through…

I spent this birthday in Napa sampling tasty wines
and dining at Etoille at Domaine Chandon.

Last year, Charlie surprised me with a private chef and a delicious meal. It was perfect for my
"aloha-wear" birthday frock. We celebrated at home, but with style

But this year I didn’t buy my own birthday frock. I saw it in a little catalog that came in the mail and I showed it to Charlieman and commented that it would be the perfect birthday frock. Then I found it in a perfect little box, with a perfect little bow, in my perfect size (thank goodness I can still fit into it!).



Every girl should have a birthday frock! And every girl should be so lucky to have a fellow who uses his selective hearing selectively and still relishes in spoiling and surprising her.
So don’t let another birthday go by without getting a birthday frock. Take it from me, you’re totally worth it! ; )