What Do I Know?

img_4197As I pulled into the driveway this evening after finishing up a long work week, my youngest came running into the garage to greet me.  She stopped short, looked at me and asked, “Why are you so sad, Mommy?”

It seems lately she’s asked me that question a lot. I am quick to reassure her. “I’m not sad, sweetie. I’m just tired.”  That is not a lie. I am tired. Some days I think I was born tired. My mini-me follows me into the dining room and continues to ask me, “What’s wrong?”  Again I reiterate that “nothing’s wrong.”  Yet, she continues her interrogation, “Please tell me!” she pleads. I’m starting to feel exasperated with her and try my best to convince her that “I’m fine.”  I’m not sure if she bought it or not though, but she finally let it go – for now.

I look in the mirror and study my reflection. I guess I do look a bit sad. I think I might just have resting, “sad face” and I force myself to smile. If you’ve followed my blog, you know I am filled with gratitude. So much so I should be shining with happiness, but my little one is right. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I have been feeling a little down lately.  I’ve turned to comfort foods and sitting on my porch with a nice glass of wine. I go out with my brilliant friends and I laugh. Yet still somehow deep down, I still feel an aura of sadness and negative energy seems to follow me around. I’m not quite sure how to shake it off. Do I  push myself outside my comfort zone and socialize more or turn into myself and go into hibernation mode to recharge?  I haven’t decided yet.

I think it comes back to the overall feeling of discourse that we as a county are amidst. Where ever you turn there is another story of despair, conflict and meanness. I know without a doubt that absorbing myself in that world does bring me down. I like to read and know what’s going on in the world around me. I thrive on on knowledge and looking at topics from different points of view. I whole-heartedly believe that there is more than one right answer. What I find most distressful is the lack of respect we seem to have for each other. With the popularity of social media platforms, it is easier to call people names and write them off as “stupid,” than it is to really listen to what each other thinks. We’ve let the “agree to disagree” mindset die and tend to quickly cast others with differing ideas as nefarious or stupid. If I elimated name-calling, arrogance and condensation from Twitter, my feed would be very short.  It is so easy to get sucked on to that band wagon — no matter what “side” you are on. Why can’t “both/and” replace the “either/or” mentality? People would be much happier.

A few weeks ago I went to a Joe Crookston concert in a neighboring town. He commented on how music can connect and bring us together no matter our differences.  He began to playing the beginning notes of a song that  he said everyone would recognize no matter how old or young, Democrats and Republicans and anyone inbetween. He then began to sing “Amazing Grace.” Sure enough everyone in the audience knew the words and joined in. His words resonated with me. It wasn’t more than a week or two later that Ed Sheeran’s song “What Do I Know” came on the radio as I was driving my kids from one activity to the next.

The chorus of his song goes like this:

“We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one-man show
No university, no degree, but lord knows
Everybody’s talking ’bout exponential growth
And the stock market crashing and their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Sing, love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment.”

Music tends to move me and this song really nailed what I’ve been feeling lately. Music is a common language that connects and makes that world a better place. A song or a melody or the first bars of a song can take your back in time and lift your spirit.

Maybe I am a sucker for the happy endings and the positive beat, but it feels a hell of a lot better when my daughter asks me “what are you smiling about?” This weekend I’m going to X out of the negative. I’m going to binge watch the Hallmark Channell, sit on my porch with the sun in my face, and ask Alexa to play upbeat music in the living room:)

How do you pull yourself out of the doldrums? I can always use more smiles.

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Boots, Diet Coke and Other Stuff that Make Me Smile

As I lay in bed last night, wide awake, listening to that January northwest Ohio wind do its thing outside, I realized that today is the last day of January and I had yet to blog this month. Not that anyone noticed or even really cared (except maybe my twin nephews. Love you guys!), but I do like to write and blather on. And once upon a time, I made a goal or a resolution or something or other to at least blog once or twice a month and pending this post I would have failed. And I so hate failure, especially mine. Although I know that you must sometimes fail to succeed, I still don’t have to like it.

So I mentally went over the past month, pondering what topic I should wax upon today without seeming whiny or bitchy or depressing. The whole point is to make someone smile as they read along. If I get one smile, it’s all good. I don’t do January resolutions as my birthday is in February, so in my book, the new year doesn’t actually start for me until then. I don’t have a rock star life style, so nothing extra-exciting on that end either. Religion? No. Politics? Definitely No. What then?  I went back to the smile. What makes me smile? I like it. So here it goes, this last day in January, the five things that make me smile the most (at least today anyway).

2013-01-31 07.33.09Cute Cards from My Kids
My daughters make me smile on a daily basis. My girls also make me want to pull my hair out on a daily basis. My kindergarten daughter has proved to be challenging. One day I’ll hear words like “Do you have the biggest butt at your work, Mommy???” as she barges into the bathroom while I’m squeezing into my jeans or “Your hair looks ugly” as the stylist finishes a new hair cut or “You look like a witch” after I finish applying eye makeup, pour out of her mouth. I can hardly wait to hear what she comes up with as a teenager. She’s quick to repent though and when the “what did you say?” comes out of my mouth, she’ll tell me “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings” (you didn’t, sniff, sniff) or “you’re pretty Mom” (too little, too late). She can also be very kind and loving when she wants to be. Last Friday I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. She’s been very caring and concerned. She’s brought me cards home from school every day this week telling me how much she loves me and how I’m the best mom in the world. These little notes and the ones from my other daughter from days past hang on my cubicle walls and on the mirror in my bedroom. They always put a smile on my face.

2013-01-31 08.28.22Cappuccino and Diet Coke
Yes I am predictable and have certain rituals. One of those being that every morning I walk down to the corner Shell station and get two 20 ounce Diet Cokes and in the winter a yummy Cappuccino (today’s blend is chocolate-covered strawberry). I know both these addictions will not help the cause of my yet-to-be-set resolution to lose weight, but oh well. I can’t seem to give them up. And sure I could save money by getting a twelve pack or a two liter or whatever, but I like taking my walk and talking to the girls that work there. I always have a smile on my face when I leave.

2013-01-23 20.10.08

Boots, Sandals and Handbags
Shoes, shoe, shoes. Yes! I love my shoes. In the winter, it’s the boots. In the summer, it’s the sandals. And purses? You can’t have enough of those. A dear friend of mine always gets a new purse at the beginning of each season. An awesome idea, that I have joined her in. A new bag on a dreary day, makes my days. Pulling on a pair of black, knee-high boots paired with some skinny jeans and long sweater almost always makes me feel happy. It’s like hey me — You look good? Trendy? Fashionable? Passable? At least not like a frumpy mom?  Who am I kidding? (Well obviously, I’m trying to kid myself! Duh!) Anyway I like wearing them, so who cares what everyone else thinks! (Me? Shut up you irritating, little, downer voice in my mind).

reviewsA Great Review
If you don’t know, I write romance novels. Well, I wrote two anyway and am working on the third. The first, Take a Deep Breath is published and the second, Take Your Time, will be out there soon. Getting lost reading or writing a good romance is a sure way to make me smile. Romances always have a happy ending. Count on it. As an indie (that’s the new cool word for self-published) author, I always have misgivings and doubts about my talents as a writer. So whenever, I get an email or someone posts a review on Good Reads or Amazon and gives my book a great review, I can count on a smile to be pasted across my face for a good ten minutes or so (until I scroll down and find a review where someone hated my book). So the review thing is definitely a double-edge sword. On my writing loops, most authors advise not to even bother reading them. Somehow, I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to see what others think. I confess that I am a needy writer seeking approval. Yes, I said it (wrote) it. I’m an approval junkie. Sigh. Maybe that should be my number one would-be resolution for this year.

A Perfectly Clean Room
For me walking into my home to find a perfectly neat, orderly room is the ultimate happiness. With everything in its rightful place, the counters wiped, sinks shining, carpet vacuumed and every surface dusted. Chaos and clutter gone. I can ease back on my couch with a good book, a glass of wine, some soft music and no guilt over something else needing to be done. Now that is pure bliss. And a regretfully, it is only a dream. As you can see, I don’t have a picture for this smile. This state of home-happiness happens once in a blue moon and lasts about as long as a lunar eclipse. The chance to snap that photo has alluded me as of yet. But someday when the members of my household (myself included) finally get on that “let’s clean this place up” bandwagon at the same time, I’ll be sure to capture that moment with my iPhone.

What about you? Tell me… What makes you smile?