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SPEAKER OF THE FLOCK

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Marriage

Hello, Lovers

“Romance is thinking about your significant other when you are supposed to be thinking about something else.”—Nicholas Sparks

 Love is in the air. I see it on my husband’s face as he tries to decipher if I really mean it when I say, “You don’t have to get me anything.” Love lurks in the stores I frequent, where candies and chocolates taunt me at every turn. Love lies in stacks and heaps on my kitchen table, in the form of cards and treat bags to be handed out at classroom Valentine parties. Love is all we need. That and some calorie-heavy chocolates, dinner reservations, and some refrigerated red roses. OK, so maybe Valentine’s Day is not my thing. Even though I am comfortably rooted in a romantic relationship, and I have plenty of friends and family to love on, the holiday feels contrived and overwrought with expectations. I make a point to tell my dear ones that they are loved throughout the year, so setting aside this one day for something we should always be doing feels terribly insincere, both for the lover and the lovee. (Man, I hate the word “lover.”)

 

IMG_4620
“Is this a test? Because it feels like a test.”

Anyway, all that said, I do plan to participate in the holiday, because I’m not completely heartless. Also, I love all things chocolate, red and pink are great colors for me, and I am a hapless victim of pretty much all marketing schemes. My nearest and dearest, which include my husband, children, family members (the ones that I actually love and not just have to say that I do), and my closest friends, will be showered appropriately with love-themed candy and cards. They should understand that they will have to share any candy they receive. In the case of my kids, I’ll give them a lot of useless junk that I will have to pick up over the next few weeks before finally throwing it away, and some candy that I will secretly eat in the pantry after they go to bed. Because I love them, and it’s not healthy to eat that much candy.

But what about my other loved ones? Some of my nearest and dearest literally don’t know I exist. Still others know that I’m here and may suspect that I love them, but a Valentine’s gesture might be a little weird. So, I’m taking this opportunity to get in the spirit of the holiday and say something from the heart for these beloved ones that might otherwise go unrecognized this Valentine’s Day. This is for you, Lovers. (Ew.)

  1. Target

My dearest Target, you smell so nice.
And everything here is just the right price.
My love for you shall never die,
As long as my RedCard you do not deny.

target-marketing-to-women

  1. NetFlix

Oh Netflix, sweet Netflix, it is so true
I want to spend the whole night with you!
Let’s skip the intro and get this thing started.
If the queue is full, how can I be broken hearted?

netflix bffs

  1. Tamiflu

Kids are so great, but they can carry the flu.
When the test comes back positive, You’re My Boo!
You keep us all well, which makes my heart flip,
Maybe my stomach, too, but we’ll overlook that bit.

kid taking medicine

  1. My Girlfriends

All day long, we’re on the group chat.
Cursing and moaning about this and that.
I just don’t know how I’d make it through
Without a hundred stupid GIFs shared with you.

mom jeans

  1. Seat Warmers

On these cold and dreary winter days,
When the winds like a knife can cut,
I shiver as I climb into this freezing car,
And, in no time, you warm my butt.

seat warmer meme

  1. Justin Timberlake

The way you move, it’s just too much!
My kids are at school, wanna meet for lunch?
You’re clever, you can sing, and we all know you’re cute.
Just give me a chance, and give Jessica the boot.

 

Justin Timberlake
Took this video when I went to lunch with JT.  We’re bringing pie back.

 

  1. Snapchat Filters

You make me a better woman, (or a cat, dog, or bunny.)
You smooth away my wrinkles and make my voice sound funny.
You keep my kids entertained and cause all my friends to snicker.
This mom over 40 won’t take a selfie without her Snapchat filter.

snapchat meme

  1. My Dry Cleaner

Dry Cleaner Man, I have to say, you’re really not that sweet.
But when I pull up in your drive-through, you never miss a beat.
I also want you to know, your plight I understand.
I’m giving you all these shirts, because I can’t do ‘em, man.

seinfeld dry cleaner

  1. Tacos

You’ve been with me through thick and thin.
Mostly thick, because I want you again and again!
Made of crispy corn, or the softest flour,
If it were up to me, I’d have you every hour.

 Notebook Taco

  1. Wine

You can be red, or you can be white.
It doesn’t matter which, as long as you’re here tonight.
And when I feel that I must partake during the day,
It’s perfectly acceptable to lunch with Rosé.

wine poem

 XOXO, all you Funny Valentines. Show extra love to your people today, and don’t forget them the rest of the year. And if you’re feeling a little lonely on this made-up holiday, just remember, there might be someone loving you from afar, or someone who might be pleased as punch to get a quirky poem from you.

i-like-you-funny-valentines-day-card-sexy-valentines-day-card-funny

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I Have One Word for You

 Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.—Buddha

 Several years ago, I abandoned the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. I reached a point in my life where I knew myself well enough to realize that whether it be a result of unlucky circumstances, low willpower, or goals that were set too high, any resolutions I put forth would likely be shattered before Valentine candy replaced Christmas decorations in the stores. I start my New Year much the same as the rest of the world, puffy and exhausted from the holiday happenings, gently nudging my loved ones out the door so we can all get back to our regularly scheduled programming. I resolve nothing, except to continue being the same delightfully moody, disorganized, running-five-minutes-behind contained mess that I’ve always been.

In the midst of blocking out all the Fresh Start and Resolution propaganda, my attention was drawn to some people who were starting out their New Year with “One Word.” Not a laundry list of resolutions waiting to be broken, but a one-word mantra to give guidance throughout the year. Hmmmmm. One word. I could probably handle this. It’s just one word! But it needed to be a good word. Strong and lasting, as we were going to be partners for an entire year. One of the websites I visited advised, “Your one word will shape not only your year, but also you.” Another person said that when you pick your word, you should ask yourself, “What would you like to be more true about you at the end of 2018 than is so now?”

Whoa. This one-word thing was serious business. What if I picked the wrong one word, and for a whole year every time I needed to invoke my mantra to bring me back to my center, it was the wrong word and all I would think about was how I couldn’t even pick the right ONE WORD? At the rate I was going, my one word was going to be “stressed.”

Words chosen by others filled my screen and my thoughts. Fearless. Obedient. Courageous. Grit. Beauty. Focus. Depth. Strong. All of them inspiring in their own right. It’s true, a lot of meaning can be packed into just one word. I was sold on the concept, but no closer to finding my one word. I tried several on for size, but none felt right. Not trendy enough. Not classic enough. Not insightful enough. Not introspective enough. This was going about as well as making resolutions.

Ugh, ENOUGH already!

Wait… “enough.” “Enough.” While not the prettiest word on paper, nor lovely on the lips, for me the word is just as smooth as a worn river rock, having been delicately honed by rolling around in my head for so long.

When the children are unruly… “That’s enough, now.”

When I push back from a table heavy with delicious food and drink… “Heavens, no, I’ve had enough!”

When someone disrespects me or those that I love… “Well, that is enough of that.”

All those enoughs are empowering. In those times, I am holding the river rock. It is pressed into my palm, cool and smooth as I turn it over and over again, giving me a sense of calm and control over my circumstances.

But what about the times that I feel like I’ve been overtaken by the idea of enough? When the river rock grows to a size that I can no longer hold in my hand? When it grows so big that I have to put all my weight behind it to roll it along with me?

When my husband or children want something from me that I can’t provide to them, whether that be time, or patience, or material things… “I’m not a good enough wife and mother.”

When I’m tempted by unhealthy food, frivolous spending, or idle time… “I’m not strong enough to deny myself.”

When I refuse, ever so politely, requests from worthy people and organizations for my time or talents… “I don’t do enough.”

When I compare myself to others, not knowing their full circumstances, but still in awe of how amazing their lives seem to be… “I don’t have enough. I don’t do enough. I’m not working hard enough. I am not enough.”

Deep down I know those things aren’t true. In my core, I know that I am and that I have so much more than enough. My cup runneth over with love for and from my friends and family. My comfortable home is bursting at the seams with more things than we could possibly need or want. And on the days that I feel like a wandering soul with no lasting purpose, I remind myself that my Heavenly Father put me here for His purpose, and the only person who thinks it isn’t enough is me.

2018, I’ve got your “one word.”

ENOUGH.

I have enough.

I am enough.

I have love to give and love to receive, and that, my friends, is ENOUGH.

 

 

Featured post

Week Old Toast

“This is true love! You think this happens every day?” Cary Elwes as Westley in the Princess Bride

It has been a week since my sister’s wedding, and I think my mother and I have fallen into the Post Wedding Slump, that period of time that follows every huge event that takes great planning over a long period of time. Past the point of picking up the pieces of all the tasks that got neglected while you were celebrating. Getting back to eating salads and bran cereal instead of stuffing our faces with beef tenderloin and cake and wine. We’re looking around; wondering, where is the macaroni and cheese bar? Why am I wearing these yoga pants instead of a hot little number? Are there no presents to open today? And while it’s nice to not be thinking of headcounts and outfit changes and the general business of making memories that last a lifetime, there is a bit of a feeling of “Well, what do we do now?”

That’s a rhetorical question. Because the answer is “laundry.” The answer is ALWAYS “laundry.”

I had the distinct pleasure of serving as Matron of Honor for my sister. I don’t like to emphasize the age gap between us, so let’s not actually count the years but just say that, between the two of us, I have a few more years experience in being a human. I’ve also lived in my own wedded bliss for almost 15 years now, and saw most of my friends married off in the early 2000’s. Suffice it to say I’ve been out of the wedding game for quite some time. For most of the wedding season, I fumbled through my duties as Matron Sister Lady and tried to remember the right things to do, to give, to advise, and when to shut the hell up. I think I did ok.

Then we got right up to the end.   It was go time, a week before the wedding, when I realized I had no heartfelt, sentimental gift for the sweet sister who had been by my side for so much LIFE. No handmade trinket, no time-filled scrapbook, no catalog of memories of any kind. I was a crappy Matron Sister Lady. Add this to the fact that the days leading up to the wedding seemed so full of other demanding tasks. What the hell? Didn’t the rest of the world understand that I had more meaningful things to do? How dare there be regularly scheduled after school activities and projects and LAUNDRY during the week of my baby sister’s wedding. THE NERVE. Anyhoo, the day was perched on top of us. It was rehearsal dinner time, and I had this vague recollection of rehearsal dinners I’d been to before, and how there was usually a time for Toasts to the Bride and Groom. I remembered from my early days as a wedding party participant when I and a couple of other tipsy bridesmaids would venture to the front of the room with a few silly inside jokes, some jabs at the groom and a sentimental poem that would make us all misty. Then we would raise our glasses and dab our mascara and make plans for where to go next to ensure we would be bumbling hungover zombies the next day. But the formula that made it all work 15 years ago didn’t seem to apply now. I wasn’t even sure if my future brother-in-law’s family would have a spot for toasts in their dinner. It kind of didn’t seem like it, and I kind of didn’t want to ask, because ignorance is bliss. As it turned out, the day was so busy I couldn’t have prepared anything in advance if I’d wanted to. I walked into the rehearsal, and my sister’s B-I-G weekend completely unprepared. As we sat at the dinner, I overheard my husband tell someone he’d spoken with Broseph’s dad, who was “a little nervous about the toast.” My stomach dropped to my knees. So there would be toasts. And I had nothing. Soon, everyone would know I was a crappy Matron Sister Lady.

Well, they didn’t do toasts that night, thankfully. So, I did what I do best, which is ignore the task at hand, put something together at the very last minute and then completely overthink what I’ve done.

Seester has been honeymooning in paradise all week, leaving us to the rain and weird Fall weather of the Carolinas, and hopefully she hasn’t been checking in on social media too much. (Hey, Seester, you haven’t missed a THING, I promise).   So, maybe when she gets home and sees this somewhere in her virtual mailbag, she can pretend the wedding fanfare is still upon us and we can all raise a glass of detox juice together in celebration of Seester and Broseph.

Here is my Week-Old Toast.

Hi, everyone. Most of you probably already know this, but I’m Seester’s older sister. We are so happy to see every one of your faces here tonight, and for the love that you’ve shown Seester and Broseph. It’s because of the love that you have for them that they’ll continue to love each other for many, many years to come. When I sat down to prepare this toast to them, I was in a bit of a panic, because I’d waited until the last minute. But then it hit me that I actually had NOT waited until the last minute. I’ve been writing this toast all of Seester’s life, recording all her stories, because they are also my own. Aside from my own children, Seester is one of the few people on this Earth who has known me her entire life, and yet she chooses to still keep me close to her. For that I am eternally grateful.

One of the advantages to being the older one in a set of siblings with a wide age gap is that I have distinct memories of when Seester came into my life. While she does not know a life without me, I can vividly remember the day she came howling into mine. That morning, our mom took me to school and said, ‘Now, today might be the day that the baby comes, so if I’m not the one picking you up from school, you’ll know why.’ Since I’d been told several times over several months that it takes a long time for a baby to arrive, and stop asking about when the baby is going to get here, there was no way I was going to be tricked by this line.   AS IF the baby was just going to come TODAY. Just like that! Riiiiight. Little did I know that my mother was laboring at that moment, and before I got my school lunch that morning, she’d be holding a bundle of joy whose birth she got to experience au naturel (not by choice). That afternoon, my dad picked me up from school in his clunker of an old Ford, a fixer-upper project that somehow never got fixed up. He bypassed the ENTIRE carline, leaned over to crank down the window and yelled, ‘Get in! We had the baby today!’ The level of mortification I experienced was off the charts. I mean, this was carline. You can’t just JUMP to the front! There are rules, man! But since the ground was not going to swallow me up anytime soon, I did a Frogger-like maneuver in front of all the other cars in line and we zoomed off to the hospital to see our new baby.

Seester was a beautiful baby. So sweet. And I really wish I could say she was that way all the time. But that would be a lie, because she actually wasn’t sweet all the time. She cried a lot. I mean, a lot. And really loudly, too. But my mom bore the brunt of that struggle (thanks, Mom) and the rest of us got to enjoy Seester’s beautiful smile, her precious curls and warm, sweet snuggles. One of my favorite things to do was to watch her sleep and smell her head. I made up a game where I would pretend that I was a tour guide, bringing a group of people through our house to look at her because she was the prettiest baby ever.

But yeah, the crying. Wow. If Karma is really a thing, good luck with those babies one day.

As I said before, as sisters, our histories are completely entwined. I can stand here for days and tell story upon story about Seester. Some that are happy, some that are sad and some that are super embarrassing for a lot of people in this room.

Whenever we would fight or be petty with one another, our mom would get exasperated and sometimes say (yell), “Be nice to your sister! She’s the only one you’ve got! Having a sister is a very special thing.” It didn’t seem special at the time. It seemed like a giant pain in the butt. Looking back at it now, I think that maybe Mom was a little jealous. The youngest of four, with the older three all being brothers, she never had a sister and didn’t have the chance to force someone else to always be the Ken to her Barbie.

But for all the different types of stories, one thread weaves through them all. Seester is, hands-down, the most loyal and loving person I know. The type of love she gives is so rare and precious, it humbles me to try and put it into words. This girl, well, woman, really, has seen me at my worst and she continues to love me in spite of it. When she bestows her love on someone it is fierce, and it never seems to run out. Her well of love is deep and continually full.  I know that there is nothing I can do that will make her turn away from me. I know that I have her full support in all my endeavors. I know that when I try to be funny, she will laugh. What a comfort to know that there is someone in this world that understands where I come from, literally and figuratively.  Broseph, you are a lucky man to be the recipient of a love like this.  Please treasure it and guard her heart as closely as you can.  Your reward will be immeasurable, I assure you.

For all that I can say about Seester, today is actually not about her. The dress, the cake, the flowers, all those things that she has spent the last year of her life working on and perfecting are here to celebrate something new. A marriage! A union!  After tomorrow, there is no longer just a Seester and just a Broseph. There is something new: a SEESTERANDBROSEPH. Two threads, woven together to create a new, stronger rope that the world will constantly pull and tangle and knot and try to unravel.

From the moment our family met Broseph, we knew that he was special to Seester. And for that reason alone, he was special to us. As time went on and we got to know him better, we saw many of the wonderful qualities that drew him to Seester. And so, when Broseph proposed, exactly a year ago, we were pleased and excited to welcome him to be part of the cast of characters that we call our family.

Back in the old days, it was customary for a family to offer a dowry to the family of the man marrying their daughter. A goat, maybe. A plot of land on which to build a house. Something practical like that.   But I can’t imagine a better prize to offer a suitor than Seester herself. She is her own dowry. She is the very best of what we have to give.

Seester, do you hear what I’m saying here? YOU ARE A BETTER GIFT THAN ANY GOAT.

Broseph, do you hear what I’m saying here? Marrying my sister is the best thing that may ever happen to you. DON’T MAKE ME GET ALL MEDIEVAL ON YOU.

I don’t want to rely on my own words completely here. Over the history of the world, many, many people have fallen in love and gotten married and lots of them had a bunch of stuff to say about the whole experience. Most of us are probably familiar with the great American author Mark Twain. Fewer of us know about his wife Olivia (aka Livy). Like most wives of her time, and even our current time, Livy was always hard at work supporting her husband, but taking no credit for herself. She was his main editor and the driving force behind cultivating his public image. By most accounts he was completely smitten with her from the start and he loved her intensely through their 34 years of marriage. He traveled often and was away from her for much of their marriage, sparking rumors, but he was quoted as saying, ‘Wheresoever she was, there was Eden.’ (SWOON) During their courtship and after, they wrote letters to each other. This is an excerpt from one of Mark’s letters to Livy, before they were married:

“This…will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, the holiest, and the most generous toward us both—for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; and Livy it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In that day the scales will fall from our eyes and we shall look upon a new world. Speed it!”

 Damn. Just when you think you have something profound to say, a Great American novelist comes along and just knocks it out of the park. Perfection, Mr. Twain/Clemens, whatever your name is.

And so here we are. The Big Day. Go Time. T-minus Zero. Two becomes one, to have and to hold and ‘til death to you part.

And here’s what I have to say about that:

“Speed it.”

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