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Take a Compliment!

Take a Compliment!

 

Does receiving a compliment make you squirm or cringe? Yeah, me too. And I’m sure the rest of the world agrees with us. 

But, what if we said a simple, “thanks” and then stowed those kind observations away to examine later when we were alone?

Can you remember a recent compliment someone gave you? Maybe it was that you were funny, that you showed initiative, that you hit a homer with that work project, that you looked sharp, whatever comes to mind. Now, take those words and imagine they are a marble. Weird, right?

Now find a quiet place where you are safe and alone. Pull out one of those word marbles and examine it. Hold it in your mind and try to find the grain of truth in it. And now, here’s the really tough part, sit with that truth until it doesn’t feel ill-fitting. Then, tomorrow or next week or next month when your confidence feels low, take out that marble and remind yourself of your strengths. 

Sounds strange, right? Let’s practice together.

If marbles aren’t your thing, try a gumboil approach!

The compliment: “You gave an amazing presentation.” 

The reaction: Squirm, cringe, blush, and a mumbled, “Oh, it went on too long…thanks, though.”

The marble: I gave an amazing presentation (which I know is the truth because that person has no incentive to lie to me AND I spent ten plus hours making that presentation…well…great!)

The quiet analysis: I worked hard and it showed. My hard work was acknowledged by someone I respect.

See? Not so painful. In fact, next time you start the prep for another challenge, that marble may give you the confidence to start strong.

Leaving God Behind

Leaving God Behind

graveyard
No matter the trouble, I think I have to bear it alone. When will I learn?

These last days have been zipping by at the speed of light, making something that happened a few weeks ago feel like it occurred last year. It was the final meeting of my bible study class. After singing one last hymn, we said goodbye for the summer. I drove away wrapped in the tingly warmth of the Holy Spirit wrapped around me like an electric blanket, and I swore to capture and keep that peace until we reconvened in the fall. I promised to stay this close to God throughout summer.

(Cue the ominous music here)

Soon after, I counted the weeks I had left to be a working mom before my kids were on summer vacation, six weeks. Six weeks?!? My head spun, I had a second book to finish drafting, six book covers to conceptualize and execute, a new book team to train, a hospice luncheon to get sponsored, and more.  This was on top of my mom duties, wife duties, pet duties and school volunteer duties. All of which were feeling more like doo-doos as I ran around from 5:30am until after 11:00pm trying to chip away at the stacks of work, which seemed to stay massive in spite of my efforts.

portland street
If you take the same route, expect the same outcome.

I dubbed myself, “Mrs. Frazzled” and carried on, losing any grace in the process. Within a week of that moment when I drove away from bible study, I’d lost my sense of peace and balance. And because I left God behind, it all fell squarely on my shoulders. The stress. The burden. The shortcomings. The frustration.

Things worsened throughout May and well into June. I was more frazzled than ever, short on sleep and even shorter on temper. My teen, an old soul, suggested we cleanse the house, not with 409, but with burning sage and prayer. She feared a dark spirit was at work in our household, something powerful enough to transform her sweet mom into an ogre, though she never said that part.

That evening, with my littlest one fast asleep and husband across the country on business, we lit sage, walked the house and prayed. We replaced the angst crouching in our shadowy corners with grace. Before falling asleep that night, I asked God to forgive me. Forgive me for being obstinate, for insisting on carrying my burden alone. But, the truth is, I have a hard time admitting defeat – and an even harder time asking for help.

Asking for help makes me feel like a failure and leaves me drenched in queasy frustration. I was raised to be an independent woman, and asking for help meant I was weak, dependent and incapable. But, God doesn’t give us what we want, only what we need. And what I need most is to learn to ask for help.

plates on wall
The outpouring of advice from all of you inspired me to try something new.

I wrote a simple post on Facebook asking why it was so difficult for me to ask for help and I got an overwhelming response from friends and family. They found it hard as well. But, they also exposed another side to me – the blessing my cry can offer to the ones that answer my call. Wow. I’d never thought of it that way before. When we help others, it leaves us feeling content, satisfied, good. I knew that feeling from pitching in for other people over the years. Yes. I could give that feeling to someone else, if only I showed my vulnerability.

So, squirming, wriggling, and wincing – these last weeks, I’ve been asking for assistance. Not only from God, but from others as well. I’ve been asking for help. I’ve asked for patience, I’ve asked for understanding, I’ve asked for professional advice, and I’ve asked for more time. It still doesn’t feel comfortable, but I am learning. I am learning that sometimes asking for help is a blessing to the person that answers that call.

I’m also seeing that, even though I left God behind for a time, He never forgot about me. Not for one moment. He was there waiting to answer my request, I need only ask.

So, for those of you that unknowingly helped me learn that asking for help is a safe place, thank you. You were my blessing these last weeks. I promise to return the favor.

An Open Letter to My Friend Ellen

An Open Letter to My Friend Ellen

Our little monster
Our little monster

With puppy ownership on the horizon for your family, I thought you might benefit from our ongoing experience.  Cooper, our German Chocolate pup is nearing his sixth month.  And as his puppyhood draws to a close (please be drawing to a close) I realize how much I wish I’d known upfront.

Supplies the books don’t tell you to purchase, but you’ll be glad you have:

  1. Lots of 409, or any other cleaning spray for the countless spills and splatters in your future.
  2. Costco flat of paper towels: Forget about the environment for a couple months.  Plant a tree once the puppy is potty trained.
  3. Stair gate (or two) to contain puppy on one floor, in one room, or on the only square foot of linoleum in the house.
  4. Small AND next size up puppy crates: They grow fast and getting to any store has become infinitely more complicated.  Be prepared!
  5. Frozen food. Yes! Stock up on all the family’s favorites now, just be prepared to hate them in a matter of months.  Restaurants are out of the question once you have a puppy.  And home cooking isn’t going to happen for awhile.  Think of it as an extended snow day.  Be ready to eat out of the fridge and cupboards for a spell.  Num.
  6. 6) DVDs, books, magazines, craft things.  You guessed it, the stay-cation is about to begin. Your life is about to exist within the four walls of your home and brief trips to the yard.  Make things interesting so you can survive.

Things no one tells you about puppyhood, but are good to know:

  1. The only regular outing you’ll have after getting a puppy is to visit the veterinarian. Put the vet on speed dial and save cash right now for the many exams, shots, and other services your furry friend requires.
  2. The first three nights home with puppy are tough, really tough! Between the frequent visits to the yard and the howling for missing pack-mates, sleep is very hard to come by.  We resorted to putting the puppy crate in the middle of our bed, but that can lead to puppy sleeping on your bed permanently, a subject of an upcoming blog post…
  3. Puppies usually have a few days of diarrhea.  It is vital to take a picture of the bag of food your dog breeder had to make sure you buy the right type.  We also found a dollop of yogurt (Greek vanilla is our pup’s favorite) helps things resolve quickly.  So, put Greek yogurt on your list of things to buy.
  4. Your child, no matter how excited they were to own a puppy, will feel displaced.  Adopting a pup is like bringing home a younger sibling.  Be prepared to comfort and console.  I find this goes better after sipping a glass of wine.
  5. Don’t forget to take loads of pictures.  They grow and change at lightening-speed, so take those pictures!
  6. Have puppysitters at the ready, people who really know how to take care of a pup, and schedule them to give your human family a little break.  A simple dinner out, or drive, or walk by the lake goes a long way to make the puppy days go smoothly.
  7. Puppies don’t innately like the car.  They squirm, whimper, barf, whatever, but you will have to get them used to the car.  Take a drive with puppy everyday and make something good happen at the end of that drive, whether it be a quick walk, a tasty tidbit, whatever and they will begin to associate the car with good things.

Why having a puppy is the best thing ever:

  1. What child can be upset about waking up for school when it is a bouncy, licking puppy that does the waking?  In our house we call it the puppy alarm clock. Yep, I let Cooper do the dirty work now.
  2. “Wow! Taking care of a puppy is hard.  How did you ever do this for me?” One of our kids said that in the first weeks of Cooper’s life under our roof. The child in your life is about to gain an instant and invaluable appreciation for what you and your hubby did to raise them!
  3. What other member of the family misses you after a quick ten-minute absence? That’s right. Puppy is about to show you in so many ways how much she loves and needs you.
  4. Puppyhood is fleeting, so embrace it!

As always, we are here for your family.  Let us know if you need anything during the coming months as you adjust to your newest family member.

Love,
The Hotes Family