Remember the Fallen

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My son is 17. As a family we are enjoying this long Memorial Day weekend. My son spent some time at work on Friday and Saturday, went to a BBQ with our cousins yesterday and today is reveling in the ability to sleep in. Since we live in the suburbs of Dallas in the year 2017, we get to rest and enjoy our weekend. We can relax this weekend because of others that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

If this were the year 1944, I have a feeling our weekend would have been very different. There’s a good chance that instead of a long, relaxing weekend, my son would have been preparing to go to war. And we would have been dealing with rationing, war bonds, and the loss of friends and family overseas. While we are coordinating who’s bringing the potato salad, the families in 1944 were occupied with the war effort, riveting planes together, producing ammunition, participating in air raid drills and even learning how to make cakes without conventional sugar. If this were 1944, instead of being able to hug my son this morning, I may have been on my knees praying for his safety as he prepared to enter the battle. Needless to say, I am grateful to be writing this on a sunny day in 2017.

In just a little less than a week it will be the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. The number of troops that ascended upon the shores of Europe that day is nearly unfathomable. I pulled this quote from a UK D-Day Museum webpage: “Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces.”

Nearly 54,000 died that day, or in the subsequent days of the battle, between the Allied ground and air forces. 54,000 individuals paid the ultimate price to safeguard the freedom of their fellow countrymen. Not just for the generation they came from, but for the generations yet to come. They sacrificed their very lives for you, me, and every other individual that lives in the free world. Today is the day we honor them and all the other men and women that have died protecting the freedom we enjoy in this great nation we call home.

On Normandy Beach alone the death count was estimated to be about 9000. I ran across a project that commemorated the 70th Anniversary of D-Day by filling the beach at Normandy with 9000 drawings in the sand of our fallen troops. You can find an article about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/fallen-9000-sand-stencils-dday_n_4003959.html

A few images from Normandy Beach in 1944 and in 2014

And these are just the numbers from one battle in one war. Imagine what the count must be after nearly 250 years of freedom. Even to this day we are losing soldiers overseas to maintain the freedom we so often take for granted. Without the deaths of those brave men and women, freedom would be but a dream, instead of the reality we live in.

As I prepare to go to yet another gathering with friends, I felt it was important to take just a few minutes out of my day to honor those that made today possible. There is no way to repay the debt we owe the fallen, but we can at least stop for a moment to think about the sacrifices that have been made, and that continue to be made around the world, for the freedom we so readily enjoy.

May we never forget we are the “Home of the Free, BECAUSE of the Brave.”

 

 

Don’t Be Ellen Griswold

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“If someone says, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll erase this later.’ Steal the camera.” – Uncle Ryan

At this point, I feel I must confess that not all of the slides in my Power Point came directly out of my mouth. A couple of them were actually uttered by my younger brother. I have him to thank for the quote above and the subject of this entry in the Power Point Series.

During the majority of my children’s formative years my younger brother, Ryan, lived with us. The situation worked out quite well for all of us. My brother was able to move here from another state and not have to worry about finding a place to live, and I had the benefit of another adult around while my husband was away flying from sea to shining sea.

Family dinner is a regular occurrence at our house and as I’m sure anyone that’s met us can imagine, we have had some interesting conversations at the table. At one such dinner we were discussing all the borderline inappropriate advice I had provided the kids when my brother came up with some sage advice of his own. (See above quote.)

Every time I remember my brother’s statement on prudent media management, I am reminded of National Lampoon’s European Vacation. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, let me give you a brief recap of the scene that comes to mind. Said scene involves a video camera, a shower & a promise from Clark to his wife Ellen that he will erase the footage he has just shot. Clark being Clark, of course fails to erase the video, the camera is subsequently stolen and the contents of the videotape are then turned into an adult film starring the erstwhile Mrs. Griswold. The titular star and her family discover what has happened when they run into a billboard advertising Ellen’s debut role.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation was released in 1985. At that time, Clark’s mistake was especially funny because of its absurdity. Today, in the age of social media, the reality is it would be very easy to have something like this happen to you. Just ask a few of the actresses that have had their phones hacked and then watched as very private photos spread like wildfire over the interwebz. Or even the myriad stories of high schoolers that sent all manner of pictures to people they thought they could trust, only to find they had been shared with the entire school.

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, etc. are all incredibly good ways to stay in contact with friends and family. They’re also great ways to share what’s going on in your life, your thoughts on the weather, politics, your blog, photos, etc. But if you’re not careful social media can be an incredibly easy way for others to share things you don’t want shared. Such as the picture you sent your friend asking for advice on the new bra you’re trying on at Victoria’s Secret. Or the flirty cleavage shot you sent a potential partner. Or even the Richard (think private part, not Nixon) pic you sent to the head cheerleader in an attempt to get her to text you back. The truth of the matter is, nothing on the Internet truly disappears. It will be there in perpetuity, and you never know when a youthful indiscretion may come back to haunt you.

The moral of the story is – make sure you’re in control of what you record and distribute. If you trust someone else to safeguard your reputation, you may regret it. And the consequences can be both devastating and life altering. Teachers, beauty queens, politicians, just to name a few, have lost jobs due to old pictures surfacing years later. Many teenagers have committed suicide following the release of compromising pictures without their approval. Sadly, the people that do the sharing often have no idea how negatively their actions may impact the subject of the released material.

In the unfortunate event that you have been recorded doing something you may regret, go ahead and heed Uncle Ryan’s advice; steal the camera. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom if your pictures get leaked. There is at least one infamous instance of a sex tape success story. A certain video starring a Kardashian launched an empire. Unfortunately for my family, I’m no Kris Jenner…

Her Highness Ascends

IMG_20170522_164917Dear Plebes of the House of Brown,

I know it has taken me a bit of time to grow into my role in your home, but I feel I am now ready to assume my place on the Throne(s) of the House of Brown. Henceforth you will refer to me as Queen Stella.

While the battle for the legendary Iron Throne continues to rage in the Land of the Seven Kingdoms, the battle within Castle Brown is over. I hereby claim the Leather Thrones (all couches, chairs and the ottoman), the Bed Spring Thrones & the Carpet/Throw Rug Thrones within the Castle for myself.

I expect my meals to be on time, my belly rubs to be plentiful, my walks to be daily and a large assortment of chewable toys available at all times. Failure to provide any of these things will result in swift and harsh punitive action. A few examples of the penalties for a violation of these demands is as follows:

Destruction of the living room rug

Adjustments made to strap length and function on any/all sandals

The spreading of paper debris on floors & beds

Disbursement of plastic pieces from whatever happens to be handy

Shredding of branches/wood in the backyard

Digging of holes, particularly around fences & sprinkler heads

The shortening of vacuum cords

Any other action I find appropriate at the time of my displeasure

In regards to our long-term visiting royal, King Boomhauer, of the land of College Station, I have decided that he may stay. But he must be amenable to my barking, nibbling, climbing and sitting upon him. Additionally, my requests for his attention will be met immediately, lest I be required to pester one of you with my playful toe biting.

I promise to rule with great mercy and love. I pledge to keep you warm on cold nights, to greet you as you return to our kingdom and to come when you call (if it suits me). I will keep the home floors clean, as long as there’s no spinach involved, and help you maintain a healthy diet by landing on the calorie grenade that is a bag of potato chips.

I pray that we experience peace in our kingdom from here on out. Rather, until the doorbell rings.

Your Benevolent Ruler,

Queen Stella

Naked and Brave

Australian Nudist

Photo taken in Sydney Harbor, March 10, 2007

Several years ago I go to spend 10 days in Sydney, Australia, with one of my closest friends. I still marvel at how everything worked perfectly together to allow that to happen. It was a truly incredible trip.

The day we arrived in Sydney we passed through customs, picked up a shuttle and headed to our hotel. We were both exhausted after the long journey, but the conference my friend was attending had arranged a harbor cruise for us. There was no way we could pass up that opportunity so we splashed some water on our faces and headed to the dock. Needless to say we didn’t regret the lost rest. We got to cruise around Sydney Harbor, go under the famous bridge, get a close up view of several multi-million dollar mansions, and even the famed Sydney Opera House. I of course had my camera at the ready, snapping pictures throughout the cruise. I even took one while we were floating by a nude beach.

The picture I snapped on that cruise is still one of my favorites. The nude beach had a large rocky outcropping that jutted out into the harbor. If one were adventurous enough to navigate the spiky rocks I imagine one would be rewarded with the feeling of being in the middle nowhere. Not to mention the view must be spectacular from there. Even though it was possible, I don’t think I would have attempted the journey fully clothed, let alone in my birthday suit. But on this bright and sunny March afternoon, one gentleman decided it was worth the risk. He hiked across that rocky shore, nary a stitch of clothing or even a flip-flop to protect him. Standing on one of the furthermost rocks, he looked the  part of the victor in a risky game of King of the Hill. I was so impressed (not necessarily in a complementary way) that I had to snap a picture. I mean, after all, what kind of idiot would do that?!

For the longest time I marveled at that man’s stupidity. No view could be worth the risk of castrating oneself. Or even if the worst didn’t happen, the potential for all kinds of injury in the most delicate of regions. Imagine trying to return to a clothed life with lacerated nether regions. I’m squirming now just thinking about it. No way, no how.

But as time has passed, I have had a change of heart. Instead of viewing him as the world’s only living brain donor, I have come to appreciate his bravery. It would have been much easier for him to allow all the reasons not to go on that hike to keep him safely ensconced on the beach. Free from danger, yes; in danger of regret, indubitably.

Often times there is a fine line between stupidity and bravery. Hiking up to the top of Mt. Everest is fraught with risk. Many have died attempting it, but I have yet to hear one person that’s summited it say it wasn’t worth the risk. I would hazard to guess that even those that perished in their attempt died with little regret. After all, they died trying to realize a dream.

I have been wrestling with the idea of fear and bravery mightily over the last few months. I’ve come to realize that over the course of my life, I have tread a little too carefully. In my attempt to remain scrape free, I have often allowed my unwillingness to expose myself to risk keep me from pursuing my own dreams. That fine line between brave and stupid is really akin to a double-edged sword. Bravery may often lead to stupid actions, but cowardice can do the same thing. It’s incredibly stupid to allow a fear of failure to keep you from even trying. And while we may feel more comfortable with the path of safety, it is often littered with regret.

All of this to say, that while I know I will continue to struggle with fear and doubt, I’m going to do my best to dig deep and find the courage to overcome my own cowardice. I will rely on my faith and attempt to remember that the greatest rewards come to those who take the greatest risks.

I hereby resolve to be naked and brave – just like that Australian dude on the rocks. Feel free to join me out here. It’s worth the effort.

When All Else Fails – Cookies

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The sun is shining. My mind is racing. And yet I sit here, cursor endlessly blinking. Taunting me really. Blink. Blink. Blink. So many possibilities and ideas, yet none of them seem to want to be committed to this blank Word document.

When this happens I am eternally grateful that I love to cook and bake. And make up/modify recipes. So today, I’m going to share with you a cookie recipe that’s a favorite of my family and a few others I know. It’s my Grammie’s Snickerdoodle recipe. Snickerdoodles are a favorite of my brother-in-law and the first time I made these when he was around I was a little apprehensive. My fear was for naught as he told me they were they best he could remember having. I can’t promise you’ll feel the same way, but it’s worth a try, right?

If, like me, you have a passionate love affair with cinnamon, I highly recommend adding the extra cinnamon (see ** on recipe)  to the dough. It does not disappoint. If you don’t want them to be too flat, you may want to refrigerate the dough for an hour or so before baking. I’m usually too impatient to do that step, but if you prefer fatter cookies, it’s a must.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear my book, a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and the backyard calling my name. Keep Calm and Bake On.

Grammie’s Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

3 ¼ cups flour (sifted)

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

sugar & cinnamon for topping

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Form into balls and roll in cinnamon & sugar mixture. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 min. at 350°.

 **I also add one heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture.

 

She Deserves All the Spoons

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With Mother’s Day being this Sunday my social media & news feed have been flooded with myriad postings on the greatness of motherhood. Everywhere I turn it’s all about moms. It’s basically a cauldron of Motherhood stew. Knowing full well I run the risk of overflowing said cauldron, I’m throwing my two cents into this interweb pot.

I have been blessed by knowing some amazing mothers, starting with my own. Many of the most influential people in my life have been moms. Some of these amazing moms never had children of their own, but adopted the kids of their friends. I know my own mother has far more than the 2 grandchildren that are part of our nuclear family. Moms truly are amazing creatures.

Looking back at all the things I’ve seen these moms do, I can’t help but think about the Spoon Theory. The Spoon Theory is a brilliant explanation of what it’s like to live with a chronic, often invisible, health problem. The theory likens our energy reserves to a stack of spoons. Each day we start out with a stack of spoons in our drawer. Every activity we engage in requires the use of one or more spoons. By the end of the day, many of us end up spoon-less, usually because we didn’t take any time for ourselves, which is what replenishes our spoon supply. The number of spoons necessary for any given activity varies from person to person. For those living with chronic illness, that stack of spoons is often smaller than other people’s and doesn’t replenish itself at the same rate as the average healthy person’s stack does. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so.

I think the Spoon Theory can be applied to motherhood as well. No matter what cards we’re dealt, motherhood is not easy for anyone – we all face our own struggles. We moms are notoriously tough on ourselves as well. We often overlook the myriad ways we use our spoons, and frequently fail to recognize things we’ve done well. In other words, we are quick to deplete our spoon supply, slow to take the time to replenish our spoon supply and often deny ourselves the extra spoons we deserve for a job well done.

I decided that today is a perfect day to share with you some spoon spending/earning moments I’ve witnessed in my circle of moms. Consider this little exercise in Mom Recognition as a chance to catalog all you do and as a reminder to repopulate your spoon drawer. If you’re not a mom, this can help you identify some ways in which you can help the mothers in your life pick up the spoons they so richly deserve.

  • Moms are battle-tested warriors. I have watched moms fight for the proper diagnosis and medical treatment for their kids. I’ve witnessed battles with school districts to secure services for their kids. I’ve watched friends go to divorce court and fight for the best situation for their kids. I’ve also watched women graciously put their own hurt feelings away to keep from influencing their kids’ relationships with a former spouse.
  • Moms are a security system. I’ve seen a mom step between a child and an irate father that’s ready to lash out. I’ve seen a mom jump into traffic to keep her child from being hit by a car, only to suffer the impact herself. I’ve seen moms walk on the outside of a hiking trail to keep their kids from falling/walking/running off the side of a mountain.
  • Moms are gift givers. I’ve seen a mom give her child one of her cherished possessions. I’ve seen a mom give her children the gift of discipline, even when it would be so much easier to just give in. I’ve seen moms give the gift of responsibility by requiring their kids to do chores/homework, etc.
  • Moms know the true definition of bone tired. I’ve watched moms get up at the butt crack of dawn to get kids to practice. I know moms that have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning providing moral support to a homework overloaded kid; or drying tears of a heartbroken teen; or picking a non-driver up from an event/job/band trip/college. And then there are the new moms that never get to sleep!
  • Moms are providers. I know working moms, single moms, stay at home moms and they all provide for their kids in unimaginable ways. Time, money, transportation, sustenance, guidance, sanity. None of it is easy to give, and yet moms give generously and self-sacrificially.
  • Moms are pride swallowers. I’ve watched moms courageously seek help from others because it’s what’s best for their kids. I’ve heard moms admit that they have made mistakes and offer apologies to their kids. I know a mom that took responsibility for the dysfunction of her family thereby absolving her kids of the tendency to blame themselves for things that were not their responsibility.
  • Moms are closet criers. I’ve watched moms deal with petulant teens calmly, holding back hot tears until their child has left the scene of the emotional crime. Mothers that are ailing or in pain stuff it down to keep their kids from worrying. I’ve seen moms wave goodbye to their child and only after they’ve gone, give into their tears.
  • Moms are Joy Bringers. I’ve watched a mom fighting cancer muster up the energy to laugh and joke with her kids. I’ve seen moms encourage kids to play in the mud; take kids to the pool on a hot day; watch an irritating kids movie on loop because it’s a favorite of her kids. If it brings a smile to the face of her children, moms do it.

I could go on for days on end sharing all the things I’ve seen moms do that deserve recognition. Moms spend a lot of spoons every day on the well being of those around them. The amazing thing about that though, is that it often takes very little to replenish a mom’s spoon drawer. A smile from a child, a heartfelt thank you, a compliment from a friend for a job well done. Each of those can replace more than one spoon. You never know how impactful a few kind words can be, especially for us moms.

Sunday may be Mother’s Day, but it takes more than one day to replenish your spoon drawer. If you’re a mom, then from here on out I encourage you to take the time you need to collect your spoons. Whether that involves a few moments to yourself, a lunch out with friends, or even a night in enjoying your family, just do it. If you’re not a mom, I challenge you to find ways to replenish the spoon drawers of the moms in your life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. I hope and pray that you hold onto this undeniable truth: You deserve all the spoons.

 

The Fellowship of the (Coffee) Bean

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Anyone that knows me knows I love coffee. It’s not a sweet and simple, puppy type of love. Instead, it’s the big, major, obsessive, possibly a little too dependent upon, kind of love. It’s the magical fluid that makes mornings tolerable. It’s the substance that jumpstarts my creativity. The elixir that can bring joy to even the worst of days. For me, coffee is life.

I have a friend that has been told to decrease her coffee intake. I have no idea how she kept from throat punching the doctor that gave her that advice. I know I would have been tempted to because honestly, I think I’d rather just keel over than face a life without coffee.

After first consoling my friend, then empathizing with her, my mind began to wander into the realm of the selfish. What would I do if I were in her shoes? Would I quit coffee or stubbornly continue my passionate relationship with it? Could I treat it like a side chick that I only see when my main squeeze is out of town? Was I capable of cutting ties with it all together? It really was a difficult scenario to imagine.

The longer I thought about it, the more I began to try to decipher what it is I love so much about coffee. I love the smell that greets me every morning. I love that it wakes me up and makes me a little more personable in the morning. I love the flavor of a freshly brewed, steaming cup of coffee. I love the aroma that fills the house when I grind coffee beans. I literally love coffee.

Once I had gone through the physical aspects of coffee I love, I realized that our love affair runs much deeper than that. Coffee has been part of many important, life-altering events. Most of them starting with the simple phrase, “Want to grab a cup of coffee sometime?”

I’ve laughed over a cup of coffee more than any one person ever deserves to. I’ve shed a fair number of tears into my cup as well. I’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments, etc. with a coffee date. I’ve counseled people and sought counsel, cup in hand. I’ve gone on adventures with my trusty travel mug full of coffee. I once quit a job while drinking espresso. I was offered an incredible opportunity sitting at a table at Starbucks. I’ve made friends that became family sharing a pot of coffee. These are just the tip of the iceberg

The setting, kitchen table, café table, or even the coffee cart at church/work, made no difference. The common denominator was coffee. Or at least that was my initial thought. Reminiscing over all the coffee dates I’ve had over my life, I have had an epiphany. It wasn’t the coffee that mattered all that much; it was the fellowship and friendship that I enjoyed over those countless cups of coffee. It was the alliances built, the stories shared, the confessions made, the plans made, the time spent together. I am convinced that part of my love of coffee, which has inarguably increased in the last several years, is the association it has with the people I love and cherish. (This also explains why I have a couple of close friendships with non-coffee drinkers.) The coffee itself is just an added bonus.

In the end, I guess I could give up coffee if I really had to. Just don’t ask me to give up my Fellowship of the (Coffee) Bean. I pity the fool that tries that.

 

The Sunny Side of the Street

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day. I would love nothing more than to sit in my backyard, sip on a cold beverage and revel in the gloriousness that is the last few days of spring in North Texas. Unfortunately, my sinuses and spring don’t get along, so I’m inside with Stella and Boomhauer. The pups are grounded as well due to the roofers next door. It would be easy to slip into a malaise, but I have decided to counter the negativity with thanksgiving. Count your blessings and all that. So here goes.

  1. I’m thankful for stuffy sinuses because it reminds me that I can breathe.
  2. I’m thankful for dog hair all over my house/furniture/bed/clothes/food, etc. because it means I’m never lonely
  3. I’m thankful for a laptop that lets me write my silly little blog posts quickly & without having to use a typewriter.
  4. I’m thankful for Spotify because life without music is not something I want to experience.
  5. I’m thankful for the dirty dishes I’m ignoring because it means I have food to eat.
  6. I’m thankful tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo because I love chips, salsa & margaritas.
  7. I’m thankful that Stella just climbed up and sat on my laptop because it means she loves me.
  8. I’m thankful for emojis because they bring me joy.
  9. I’m thankful for Snapchat because I get to see my girl everyday.
  10. I’m thankful for some guy in some far away, long ago place that decided to roast beans and then pour hot water over them thus discovering the magical substance that is coffee. Because coffee is life giving, and life preserving for those that cross paths with me in the morning.
  11. I’m thankful for books because they allow me to walk in the shoes of their characters and see/experience things I had never imagined possible.
  12. I’m thankful for rope toys because they keep the dogs busy when I need to get work done.
  13. I’m thankful for text messages because I hate talking on the phone.
  14. I’m thankful for non-scrubbing tub & tile cleaners because I’m lazy.
  15. I’m thankful for people that love my kids because we all need more love in our lives.
  16. I’m thankful for friends that are willing to be co-conspirators because we have lots of fun.
  17. I’m thankful for the friends that keep me from killing the annoying people and doing the illegal things, because I don’t think I’d like jail very much.
  18. I’m thankful for ice packs, because I’m a klutz.
  19. I’m thankful for chocolate, because chocolate.
  20. I’m thankful for airplanes because they keep the lights on at my house and take me to see the world.
  21. I’m thankful for ceiling fans because when you live in the 6th circle of hell that is Texas in summer, they’re a necessity.
  22. I’m thankful for blankets and sweaters because I’m always freezing in grocery stores and restaurants.
  23. I’m thankful for toothbrushes and mint toothpaste because I love the feeling of a fresh, clean mouth.
  24. I’m thankful to you dear reader for making it all the way through this writer’s block induced list.

So there you have it, my walk on the sunny side of the street. If you’re feeling stranded on the shadowy side, come on over and join me. It’s a beautiful day to be alive.

Joy in the Leap

“If we will jump, we just might have a beautiful ride which stretches out in front of us.  The ride might be better and more beautiful than we could ever have imagined.”

-Andrea Daggett, The Cross Eyed Blog

Over the weekend I was given the opportunity to face a long held fear head on, the fear of public speaking. A friend of mine invited me to speak to a group of her students. When my friend first broached the subject I must admit I was tempted to laugh thinking she must be joking. Much to my shock and dismay, she was serious. She really wanted me to speak to her students. Like for reals.

At that point I launched into an internal monologue hashing out all the reasons I shouldn’t say yes. What could I possibly offer this group of professionals/graduate students? After all, my main career for the last two decades has been taking care of my family and my professor friend is a well-traveled, sophisticated attorney teaching at a top-notch university. Would they listen to someone like me? Was there any value to my own experience? Could I stand in front of people and talk for an hour? Did I have to learn how to make a real Power Point, not just the one with all my inappropriate parenting outbursts? What would I wear? Is there enough deodorant in the world to keep me from knocking them over with my nerve-induced sweat stank?

Slowly, with the encouragement of my friend (definitely one of my Tribe’s cheerleaders), husband, and a few others, I accepted that deep down I kind of wanted to try it. Even admitting that was a huge step in the right direction, but it didn’t keep my fear/doubt/insecurity from rearing its ugly head as the weeks marched by bringing me closer to the fateful Saturday.

During the period between when she asked me to speak to her class and the Monday before the talk, I worked on what I would present. My friend was invaluable with her patient encouragement, confidence in her decision to invite me into her class, input into my presentation and her computer graphic skills. Even as we worked and I became more comfortable with my presentation, the fear was lurking just below the surface. It was my constant companion. Many, many times I was tempted to call it off – but the still small voice inside me told me not to.

Fast forward to last Monday. I was getting ready to turn out my light when I decided to check Facebook one last time. Right there in my feed was the courage I so desperately needed. My precious friend and fellow blogger, Andrea Daggett, posts every Monday. The quote at the top of this entry is from her blog that Monday evening. The title of her post: Faith Over Fear. Little did she know how timely that post was for me. As I read through the wise words of my friend, I felt a wave of peace flow over me – and a new fear. The fear of regret. How much regret would I walk around with if I didn’t take advantage of the incredible opportunity that had been placed in my path?

I had a choice to make. I could choose which fear would have more power over my situation. The fear of not being good enough, or the fear of wasted opportunity? Thankfully I chose the latter. I resolved myself in that moment to march bravely toward my personal Goliath – the lectern.

As the week progressed, I met with my friend to hash out the final details of my presentation, made my speaking outline and asked a select few friends to pray for me. Saturday morning I woke up with a feeling of nervous excitement in my gut. I drank enough coffee to keep an infantry platoon on high alert, did a wardrobe check with my son, grabbed my professional looking portfolio and headed out the door.

I was greeted outside the building with a warm hug and smile from my professor friend and then she escorted me into the classroom. I sat in the room as the students finished up an exercise and waited for my turn. As I sat there listening to the students discuss a video, I began to feel a little more comfortable. These were not staid, serious students, but real people, with real life experience. They weren’t all that different from me. And they were people that might actually benefit in some way from my own real life experience.

Needless to say it was eventually my turn. Honestly, a lot of it is a blur because I became totally lost in the moment. The longer I talked, the more comfortable I felt. And the more comfortable I felt, the more engaged the students were. I even got a few laughs along the way. Even more surprising to me is that I was having fun! By the end of the session it became clear that at least a couple of them would walk away having benefitted from what I had shared. And I had conquered a fear; one that had dogged me my entire life. It was a beautiful experience. I shudder now to think that it is one I almost denied myself due to fear.

As my friend walked me back to the building’s entrance, I was heartened to hear that she was pleased with my presentation. I had been afraid she would regret my participation in her class, but the opposite was true. I could ask for nothing more than that. Of course, I have a feeling my Cheerleading friend knew it would be ok all along. (She’s great for my self-confidence.) To my benefit, she also knows me well enough to know when I need to be pushed a little. Or a lot.

I walked away on Saturday morning full of joy. And not just because it was finally over, but also because I found out I may have a knack for the whole talking in front of people thing. Admittedly, I have a lot of growing to do as a speaker, but Saturday was a huge step in an exciting new direction. Not only did it provide me with a positive experience, it also amplified the part of me that yearns to do more in that arena. I’ve realized it’s yet another outlet to allow me to use my voice and experience to help others.

So, if you need a nervous, awkward lecturer, hit me up. It may not be the best thing you’ve ever done, but it might not be the worst either.

****For those of you not fortunate enough to already read my friend Andrea’s blog, here’s a handy dandy link to the post I quoted from at the top of this week’s blog http://thecrosseyedblog.blogspot.com/2017/04/faith-over-fear.html. Once you’re there, poke around a bit. It’s chockfull of good stuff.****

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