Rewriting fairy tales

Once upon a time, there was a lovely lady who lived in a cute little beach cottage.

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It was perfect. She loved her work and her community. Her children were grown and on their own, but remained close with daily calls and frequent visits.

She took good care of herself. She had healthy habits and fantastic friends. She painted and she wrote. She practiced yoga. She served others. She spent her time and her money wisely. She read books and walked the beach. She knew what she liked and what she needed on any given day.

She was happy. The End.

knight in shining armor with princessAnd then what? What kind of story is that? Where is the tragedy? With the fairy tales of my childhood, every damsel in distress was rescued by a handsome prince. She could not save her own self. She was in dire straits until the prince on a white horse showed up. Only THEN she could live happily ever after.

Not in this story. In this story, the lady is her own hero. No need to be rescued. No need for a knight in shining armor to show up and save the day. Her life is all hers, and it’s beautiful, simple, peaceful and happy. It’s a beautiful tale, but it probably won’t sell.

As you may have guessed by now, the lovely lady is me. I am the hero of my own life. It is lovely and rich and full and I could not imagine how it could be any more delightful. I am living happily ever after.

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And then, out of the clear blue sky, my friend (and coworker) confesses his interest in me. This was a shock to say the least. In fact, he had been dropping hints for a couple of months that went right past me. And while I have always thought highly of this man, I was so focused on creating my own happy life, I never even thought about connecting with him romantically.

It’s been a whirlwind to say the least. We have been on several dates and it’s been unbelievably easy and comfortable (and magical even!). He operates with integrity and works hard. He tells me how he is feeling. He’s a gentleman in every way. He is honest and patient and kind and generous and attentive and faithful. And the bonus? He is tall and handsome and tells me every day that he adores me.

And me? I’m a bit of a mess over the whole thing. My emotions range from joy to fear with all points in between. About 847 times a day I have to remind myself to breathe! Just relax and enjoy! It should not be a surprise that someone wonderful has shown up in my life. It’s simply rewriting the old fairy tales. I don’t have to be in need of a rescue. It’s perfectly okay to enjoy the company of a handsome prince when he appears.

No matter what happens, I’m living happily ever after. The End.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

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Goals and marshmallows

Ahh… it’s mid January and I’ve had to restart my resolutions already. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

It’s not the typical “it got too hard and so I just quit” reason that my resolve collapsed. It was a 48 hour stomach bug. Apparently 7up and saltine crackers are not Whole30 compliant. My 30 days of practicing True Yoga with Adriene also went to the wayside, but hey, I rediscovered some ab muscles without her.

Just three days after the plague lifted, my daughter came into town to celebrate her sister’s birthday. It was a lovely and slightly guilt ridden time of eating and drinking as I pleased. Hibachi is a tradition for this birthday child, and I’ll admit I’m a sucker for fried rice with yum yum sauce. But alas, the binge came to a halt with the post-birthday return flight. No more plague, no more birthday, no more excuses. I was ready to reestablish that healthy lifestyle thing.

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And I have! I started over! I’m six days behind on yoga and officially one week into the Whole30 (again). It looks like I’ll be committed until Valentine’s Day when I’m sure to receive some pity candy (ha, that’s not real, but it kind of is. I’ll accept chocolate for any reason. I’m shallow that way).

It was interesting to note my dedication to these New Year’s plans of eating healthy and practicing yoga daily. I’m a big fan of observing and learning from my own behavior. Plus it often provides a good laugh.

I realized that it is super duper hard for me to keep momentum! Especially when it’s already two weeks in and everyone else has flaked out on their resolutions and carrying on life like a normal person. And it’s not pretty. Taco Tuesdays with the work crew? No thanks. Free office bagels on Thursdays? Sorry, can’t.  Also, Happy Hour of any flavor? Nope, not this month. That’s not the worst danged part though. The real tragedy is that I cannot enjoy s’mores around my very own fire pit.

Digression: I can barely stand not impaling a marshmallow when there is a perfectly good fire crackling away. Roasted marshmallows are my absolute favorite things. It’s okay to skip the chocolate and graham crackers if need be. If I were on death row, I would request an entire package of roasted gooey, golden brown marshmallows as my last meal. Finding a picture for this post caused me to tear up a bit. I don’t know what to think of those who purposely set their marshmallows on fire to have them ruined blackened and crusty and burnt. They must be heathens.

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THIS is perfection… Golden brown. Not charred, for the love.

Back to the topic. It’s so hard to muster the energy and grit to move in a direction, then come to a halt or even digress, and then start again. How do we do it?

Just like that. Simply come right back to where you were. We are talking about goals here, not marshmallows. See what I did there?

Momentum, even in it’s smallest increment, helps propel us to our goals. We catch a wave, ride with the wind, begin to pick up steam, all of those lovely metaphors (or similes? I always get them mixed up). Momentum defined is “the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.”

How do you regain your momentum after a setback? What compels you to start again when your well-intentioned plans have been hijacked?

For me, I return to the “why”. Why were those resolutions and goals and plans in place anyway?

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Daily goal – 100 ounces!

Because I want to be healthy. And I want to be the appropriate weight for my height. And since growing taller is not an option, getting thinner is what I’m left with. Oh, and there’s a milestone birthday happening in just 5 months and I want this body to be at its best. Healthy, and also, since I’m being honest, smoking hot.

Whether the goals are physical, financial, educational, professional, the key is what you do when you’ve totally blown it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in there. No matter how far off track we have veered, it’s never too far to realign and recommit. You can do this! I can too…

And as one of my friends said recently, January is a free trial month! I’ll drink (water) to that…

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathe in, breathe out, smile

That was the Sunday morning message today. Which I watched from home in my PJ’s. Breathe in, breathe out, and smile. (If you haven’t had enough inspiration today, and you’d like to watch, click here.)

How is it that I got to stay home on a Sunday morning and leisurely watch church? Because our Pastor said it’s “Take a Break” weekend, and gave everyone the weekend off. No services. It’s been glorious and weird and exactly what I needed. Extra time to reflect and rest and relax. After the most challenging semester, AND moving, I needed it!

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Goodbye ugly caterpillar

Life has been busy and challenging and I have missed hitting this space. There’s just a few more days of this semester and let’s just say HALLELUJAH for that!

There is this one little thing I feel like I need to share. Sometime over the summer, I noticed a red spot on my chest that seemed weird. When it didn’t just disappear, I conceded to let a professional take a look. My dermatologist is a lovely woman – probably because she never exposes herself to the sun (it’s a prerequisite for all dermatologists, obviously). She agreed that it looked a bit suspicious, and sliced off a sample for a biopsy.

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There are no straight lines

Nature is so freaking amazing. I think I could call myself a Nature Nerd. I am one of those people who follows National Geographic on Instagram, and then follows all the individual photographers that are also on Instagram. If I enjoyed studying all that scientific stuff, I’d probably be a marine biologist, but then it would become work. I’d much rather enjoy the beauty of all the patterns instead of figuring out how it all works. So maybe not a nerd, maybe just a fan? Either way…

In spite of a crap ton of homework, I decided to spend a little time outdoors. Last night there was a camp-out on the 81 acres of our church property. I went just for the s’mores, the hayride, and to chat with a few friends. It was so beautiful out! The moon was shining down on us.

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Moonlight & firelight. Photo courtesy of Teresa Gowin.

There was a family of deer hanging out in the field, and the kids were climbing trees like it was their job. I regretted my lack of camping gear, and returned home to sleep in my comfy bed.

This morning, I went on an Eco Meditation Walk at a local park. It was free, and partially guided, and exactly perfect. I spent an hour outside (it was 72 and sunny) gazing at nature. We walked slow, we stood and breathed and listened, we sat and meditated, and then shared our experiences.

Each of us had a unique perspective of our time. One lady shared about having breakfast with the squirrels, as they were all chowing down on pine cones nearly as big as themselves. One lady described envisioning herself as a bird flying around. Another gentleman confessed how much easier it was to meditate in nature than in downtown San Francisco. I tried to articulate how as people we strive to create straight lines, and how we find so few of them in nature.

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Red Bug Slough, Sarasota, FL. Photo credit: merevin.com

Sure, there are trees and plants reaching upward, but none are actually 100% straight. Everything is a little off. In fact, the more “crooked” they were, the more I found myself drawn to them. It was a perfect morning, but nothing was square, or symmetric, or even straight. This is exactly the perfect metaphor for the people in my life.

It seems that none are perfect individually. We all have our quirks and imperfections, yet when we’re all together, it’s beautiful. Each component added to the beauty and diversity of the landscape. It was a profound and delightful way to spend a Saturday morning.

So no matter your schedule or the weather, I hope you get to take a few minutes to soak in some time in nature this weekend. And also, appreciate all the slightly crooked people in your world.

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

Why chi-square? Why not a chai latte?

Why questions have got to be the worst. Little ones are such pros at this. And if you have a toddler, you’re probably too dang exhausted to play the never ending game of why. Think of all the fun that Aunties and Grandparents get to have with this question.

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I’m asking myself “Why?” these days. And it’s not productive at all.

Please know that I am not complaining here. I signed up for this. I want my degree, and I am willing to sacrifice some lazy days and Netflix nights to see it through. I love almost all of my classes. Three out of four to be exact. Interesting, useful topics presented by knowledgeable and interesting professors, 75% of the time. Things like the four P’s of marketing, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and how others in China greet one another. All great stuff.

Until it comes to the dreaded fourth course. QMB3200. Economic and Business Statistics II. The QMB is literally Quantitative Methods in Business, and if that gives you a headache, same. You can now be in my support group.

The professor is from India, and he is an engineer by trade. He’s actually brilliant and tries to bring this not-exciting methodology to a place where we understand what in the *#@!  he is actually talking about. But I can’t am having a hard time understanding the concepts and an equally hard time listening to him explain it.

Is it me? Is it him? Is it just the subject? It’s a required class and he’s the only one that teaches it. What can I change? Not much. Okay, maybe how much time I spend on it. Which for this weekend is somewhere around 8 hours already for this ONE STUPID class. Maybe I can try changing my attitude? That’s a bit trickier…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not lazy or apathetic (okay, a tad bit apathetic). All of this can literally be done in Excel or other programs. By other people who perhaps will work in the office next to me. And they can “crunch the numbers” and yes, I will want to know what they mean. But right now it’s kind of like WHY AM I BEING TORTURED THIS WAY?

Remember in grade school when we had to learn long division? And we couldn’t use calculators?

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Yeah, it’s a little bit like that.

Do you know what the entire basis of Statistics even is? It’s all about sample data. The reason you spend a bajillion hours calculating sample data and proportions and all that nonsense is because, according to my professor, we can never know the data of the entire population. Hello? Has anyone at the college level heard of Big Data? It’s going to replace this entire field and future generations will never have to suffer such a terrible fate.

So why do I have to take this class? It’s the same as little kids asking their parents basically any why question. Because they said so, that’s why. Guess I’m still a rebel at heart.

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At the beginning of the semester, I took this screen shot just for fun. Let’s pause and enjoy this moment, shall we? (this is not my current grade at all, btw). This was my grade after basically turning in ONE homework assignment. It wasn’t like the answers were correct or anything. It’s so much fun to pretend I can freeze this score (insert mad woman maniacal laughter).

For the moment, we need to call down all the powers from above that I miraculously pass this course. Because the exam grades are a whole ‘nother story altogether, and I’ve got one coming up fast. If, oops, I mean, when I pass, I plan to celebrate heavily, with champagne and maybe even fireworks.

I’m not sure what the big takeaway is here. You get to be grateful this is not your life right now? Maybe you’ve got an encouraging story to share about a class you conquered against all odds? If you can toss up a little prayer that I’ll make it through, I’d be so grateful.

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

 

Not looking down

Below are statements that could be contributing to my feeling of overwhelm. Choose the one that is the MOST true:
A) I am a student at an actual University now (not a Community College).
B) It’s my Junior year, meaning upper level classes.
C) I’m taking more classes this semester (four, not the usual two).
D) My brain is older than it used to be.
E) There was a hurricane, traveling, and a major project at work.
F) All of the above

Yep, you guessed it. F is for _____. Congrats! You score 100% on the quiz for today.

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Riding the storm out…

The SRQ in my blog title is the airport code for Sarasota, Florida  in case you didn’t know. All week we’ve been hearing about Hurricane Irma.

All week long we’ve been watching the news. All week long we’ve allowed our anxiety and worry take a front seat to life. All week long we’ve wrestled with big vital questions…

Do we stay?
Do we go?
Where do we go?
What if we get stuck on the road with no gas (valid question)?
What happens to my house / business / neighbors / friends?

Most of my northern people do not understand my reason for staying. Honestly, much of it comes from denial. It’s this whole attitude of “it’s not coming at us” or the famous “Sarasota is sacred” and therefore immune to such catastrophes.

Not this time. The latest predictions are that my beloved SRQ is about to be pummeled by one of the worst natural disasters in my lifetime.

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Photo courtesy of noaa.gov, 5am Sunday

And because I work at a church that has a hurricane proof building, we opened as a shelter. Not like an official shelter. You know the kind where it’s staffed with people who know what they are doing? More like a group of people trying to love others the same way Jesus said we should.

It’s kinda crazy y’all. We’ve got all manner of people and animals hanging out in our building. Everyone is afraid. As is to be expected when a Cat 4 with 120+ winds is coming for ya.

Imagine packing your family and pets and leaving your house – and you get to wonder for days if it will be there when you come back. Some folks will live up north all year just to avoid such terrifying circumstances. Not just snowstorms, but freezing cold and ice and lack of sunshine winters. I guess we all have our own kind of crazy weather tolerance.

But here’s the cool thing – we are not facing this alone. We have each other. We have a God who loves us. We have a building that will hold a lot of people comfortably. And we will get through this storm together.

Keep us in your prayers. The worst of it is coming today and tonight, and everyone’s got frayed nerves already. We still have power which helps a whole bunch, but it can go at any minute. So for now there’s coffee and A/C, and I’m wondering since it’s a Sunday morning, can we count this as our weekend attendance? Trying to be funny here, y’all. Levity helps.

And your prayers do too! Not that the storm doesn’t come, but that we have peace in the midst of it.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

It was the summer of ’89…

Maybe you weren’t born yet, but if you were, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. The Berlin Wall came down. Gas was less than $1 a gallon. George Bush Sr. was in the Oval Office. Microsoft released its Office Suite and Nintendo released Game Boys. Hurricane Hugo, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and an earthquake in San Francisco all contributed to a big mess on the home front. The Simpsons debuted, and the first of 24 satellites of the GPS system were positioned in space. It was quite a year.

 

It was also the last time I lived alone. In 1989 I was 21, single and had my very own apartment all to myself. It was on the third floor of an ancient brick building in downtown Muscatine, Iowa. Spoiler alert: I was industrious (shock, I know). There was zero time to deposit the three paychecks I was earning each week. On my occasional night off,  I would walk around the corner to enjoy cold beers and terrible cheeseburgers at Jody’s Tap. It was a season of growth and self discovery, and I was quite proud of my little grown up self back then.

I am a big fan of independent living.

Which is a good thing, as I’m entering this space again. My youngest is moving out this week. I knew this was coming eventually. For years I have been giving pep talks encouragement when mommas are mourning their chickens leaving the nest. You know the one. Read along in your best cheerleader voice, “Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.” Wlaundryhich is all true, but not very empathetic.

Now that it’s my turn to watch the last one move out, of course I handled it like a pro. I was all good…until I saw the boxes.

Y’all, I got a lump in my throat. It didn’t stay there long, but it was there alright.

Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

It IS all good. She’s only moving about 30 minutes away, so nbd, right? We will set up dates to connect. Basically the same thing we do now. With her work and school schedule, and my work and school schedule, we don’t accidentally see one another anyway. She is graciously leaving a bunch of her shoes here, so not all that much will be different. At least that is what I am predicting. Still, it’s a change.

In the next couple of months, I will downsize to a one bedroom place even closer to work. I will reclaim my independent living. I will clean my house and it will stay that way. I will only have food in the house that I will eat (perhaps no junk will enter?). And I can do whatever I want, so nana nana boo boo.

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Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

The other one is 1000 miles away and has been there for 3 years now, so I’m getting better at this parenting adults-not-under-my-roof thing. It’s definitely different, but each season brings something good while it says farewell to something good too.

I guess maybe when the last one moves out, it feels like more of a retirement of sorts. It’s the final season of so many seasons. And if you did it even halfway decently, there was some fun and greatness mixed in the mess of it all.

Ecclesiastes reminds me that there is a season for everything. It’s about to be a new season that is very similar to the one in 1989. I am single. I will live independently. I won’t be working 3 jobs, but I’ll be taking 4 classes and working full time. I probably still won’t have time to get to the bank, but hey, I have a smart phone now. And all the modern luxuries that the past 28 years has provided.01caf4927e20a193378c488fa9d2ebd2--our-kids-empty-nest-humor

But still… NOPE! I am okay!! I know it’s an adjustment, but that is life. What was that adage I told everyone else?

Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri