Queen of Loquacity

The Hard Things

Sharing the hard things with each other, makes the joyful times even sweeter.

This has been one hell of a year. When we turned the first page of 2020, there was no way we could have imagined what would come at us. It’s been rough in some way for almost all of us and every time we thought it was safe to take a breath and relax, the next problem surfaced. The struggle is very, very real and there appears to be no end in sight. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I have faith that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even though it’s just a pinprick at the moment.

In the midst of our current worldwide calamity, there have been many struggles on a personal level for myself and many of the people I hold dear. Some of my very favorite people have faced hardships and trials unimaginable just a year ago. As for myself and my family, I know that health issues for my father weren’t on any of our agendas this year – but things like that aren’t up to us. Similarly, I’ve had many friends face their own battles, be them health, wealth, or relationally focused. I love to say that adulting sucks, but this year, I think it’s important to acknowledge the difficulty our kids are dealing with as well so I’ve 2020fied the sentiment: Humaning sucks at the moment.

Before you get the idea that this is another woe is me treatise on the bummerhood of 2020, I want to introduce you to a realization I had recently – the idea that difficulties make the good times even more gooder (one of my favorite brother-invented words).  I believe this equation is compounded when we share our struggles with a friend, spouse or family-member. 

It’s never easy to bear our soul to another human, especially not when it feels like everyone is struggling, but it’s even more important to do it now. There’s a tendency to want to enjoy our time with our friends and not be a Debbie Downer. We feel like if we bring up the trials we’re in the midst of we risk ruining what should be a respite from the yuck, so instead of reaching out and sharing our struggles with our friends, we bottle them up, put a smile on our face, and soldier on alone. Meanwhile, the baggage we carry becomes heavier until it eventually breaks our back.

I want to flip the script on this tendency. I want us to learn to focus on the realization that allowing someone else to help us leads to a more intimate, fulfilling and ebullient relationship. I truly believe that when we come through adversity, the joy at the other end of the struggle is sweeter. And when we’ve included others in our battle, they share in that increased jubilation. Sharing the load makes it easier to shoulder and sharing the victory spreads the joy around.

So what keeps us from sharing our burdens? You could probably list a million different reasons, but I think they all boil down to two things: pride and fear. It’s a scary proposition to bear our soul to another person, especially one you have love and respect for. Couch that with our pride multiplying the fear of being wrong, disapointing our friend, being rejected for our weakness and even being ashamed of having a hard time, and it’s easy to see why we often hunker down and become an island unto ourselves instead of reaching out when life throws us for a loop. 

How sad that we increase the weight of our burden, rob ourselves of an opportunity to forge stronger bonds and multiply our (and others) joy  because of fear and pride. There’s a faulty idea floating around humanity that sharing our struggles is a form of weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is strength in recognizing our need for help and reaching out to others when we are struggling. It takes courage to bear one’s soul, but it is imperative that we do it. And that we are a safe place for our loved ones to bear theirs. It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child, I posit that the same is true for maintaining our mental health.

Of course we don’t really need an entire village, but we need at least one other person that will come alongside us, offer us support, encouragement, advice, admonishment when it’s warranted and whatever else we need to make it to the other side of our stormy sea. That very same circle of support will get to enjoy your safe passage, your sense of accomplishment and your unabashed joy that results from your weathering the storm. 

The next time you find yourself struggling, I challenge you to unashamedly reach out to at least one friend. Don’t let fear elongate your suffering; instead swallow your pride and seek out a confidant. If you don’t, you may feel like you’re protecting your friend from negativity, but in reality you’re denying them an opportunity to share in your joy at the conclusion of your trial. I don’t want to do that, do you?

Life is sweeter when shared with others, especially in 2020.

28 Reasons Why (An Updated List)

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It’s now been 28 years since I married to the best guy I know. I thought it might be a good time to revisit this old post and make a few additions, cuz this husband of mine just gets better with age. Happy Anniversary Brown!!

I’ve been married more than half of my life. Today marks 25 years since the fateful day I convinced a very naïve 21-year-old to hitch his wagon to mine. Through good times and bad, sickness and health, the birth of two children, job losses, etc. one thing has remained the same – I’m still Mrs. Brown.

There are days when I wonder why he’s put up with me. And still other days when I wonder how I’ve put up with him all these years. Unsurprisingly, those days often coincide. Truth be told, we’re both just human beings that get annoyed with each other on a fairly regular basis. But we made a promise to each other all those years ago and seeing as how neither one of us has broken our vows, we don’t have much choice but to stick it out.

On our worst days I do my best to remember a few of the reasons I like being married to him. It keeps me from giving into the temptation to reach the ‘til death do us part moment a little faster than originally planned. Thus I give you –

25 reasons I’m not a widow yet:

  1. He’s cute, even when he forgets to brush his hair.
  2. He stays gainfully employed thereby allowing me to lead a life of leisure as a stay-at-home mom.
  3. He rarely forgets to put on deodorant.
  4. He gets up with the kids/dogs/parents even though he knows there’s a good possibility I’m playing possum.
  5. He has good taste in coffee.
  6. Our DNA mixed together produced some fantastic results.
  7. He likes to grab my butt, no matter who may be looking.
  8. He still carries a picture of me in my senior year, late 80s mane of glory days.
  9. He whistles at me.
  10. He knows how to talk me off a cliff. Even if he’s the one that forced me up there.
  11. It was his idea that I travel half way across the world with a friend with his air miles while he tended to my duties at home.
  12. He flirts with me from across the room, or the world, with inappropriate emojis.
  13. He mans the grill better than any 5 star chef.
  14. When I fall asleep while reading, he does his best not to lose my place in my book.
  15. He mops the floors because he knows I hate to.
  16. He makes me go on walks when I’m being lazy.
  17. He puts up with our sexist dog because he knows she loves me.
  18. He brings me the hotel chocolates that get left on his pillow when he travels.
  19. In his jet setting world, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere and he’s not afraid to remind me of that.
  20. He thinks if you need one pair of shoes, then that means you need two and a new outfit or three to match your new kicks. (Our daughter is particularly fond of this character trait.)
  21. I’ll never be cold because he has 57 jackets. 15 of them are black so they go with everything.
  22. He lets me put my cold toes on his warm legs, back, butt.
  23. He has a mischievous grin that lets me know we’re about to bend/break a rule.
  24. He’s still my favorite. Hands down.
  25. I need an accomplice that can’t legally be forced to testify against me.
  26. He encourages me to take chances I never thought I could.
  27. He keeps me from over-hiking when I find myself on a trail.

And finally, a 2020 themed #28 – Even in a mask, he’s sexy.

 

Thank You For Your Service

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He stood in the heat of the desert, keeping watch over our freedom.

She stood on the bow of a ship, keeping watch over our freedom.

They crept through the jungle, keeping watch over our freedom.

She worked furiously in a medical tent, keeping watch over our freedom.

He repaired a plane in the pouring rain, keeping watch over our freedom.

They sat around a table, praying for their loved one that crossed the ocean, keeping watch over our freedom.

Countless others have performed countless tasks, keeping watch over our freedom.

These are the courageous, the fearless, the self-sacrificing faces of our veterans and their families. They serve so that we may be free.

Words alone cannot convey my gratitude for our veterans, their families and their sacrifices. Thank you for standing on the line so that I can enjoy my freedom.

I hope and pray that we remember our veterans not just today, but every day. May we never take for granted the blessing it is to call ourselves Americans. A blessing that is a gift from God, delivered by the blood, sweat and tears of our veterans and active duty personnel.

Just Like That

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It’s that time of year again, graduation season. I don’t have a graduation in my house this year, but several of my friends’ children are about to graduate from either high school or college. I admit, I’m relieved I’m not expected to attend any of the ceremonies this year. Because honestly, unless one of the speakers includes a couple of my speech suggestions from 2017 (click here to check them out https://wordpress.com/posts/shannonrbrown.com?s=graduation), I would rather nap at home. 

Whether I have a graduate in my own home or not, this season is full of reminders that time passes quickly. I remember when my kids were babies being approached by many a middle-aged woman imploring me to make the most of my time with my kids because, “just like that” they’d be all grown up. I usually smiled politely and returned to trying to keep my eldest from hiding things in the shopping cart, and my youngest from running off to meet the next stranger that glanced in his direction, thinking to myself, “Is she nuts? I can’t wait until they can wipe their own fannies.” Now, three graduations (2 high school, 1 college) later, I’ve become the crazy lady in the grocery store admonishing young mothers to enjoy their kids. I take their side eye with a grain of salt secure in the knowledge, “just like that,” they’ll understand that I’m right. (And not long after that they’ll be the lady in the grocery store.)

While it’s definitely good to embrace where you are in life and make the most of every moment with the people you love, it’s also very easy to get wrapped up in longing for things you lost “just like that.” I truly believe that every cloud has a silver lining, and that with each thing we lose, we gain another. To encourage myself, and hopefully at least one other person, I present to you a list of a few things that you gain, “just like that,” as your kids grow up.

Just Like That:

  • You don’t have to change dirty diapers.
  • You don’t have to spend three hours looking for a lost sippy cup full of milk.
  • You get to use the bathroom without little eyes peeping through the keyhole or fingers wiggling at you from the bottom of the bathroom door.
  • You get to eat a hot meal.
  • You don’t have to constantly remind people not to pick their noses in public.
  • You don’t have to sign anymore folders, try to relearn math, or run up to a school to pick up a vomiting kid.
  • You don’t have to do anyone’s dishes but your own, unless you’re married…
  • You only have to go to the animated movies YOU want to see.
  • You don’t have to try not to gag when eating a food you hate in your quest to raise healthy eaters.
  • You can eat cake for breakfast in plain sight, no hiding in the pantry required.
  • You learn that it’s okay to be the square peg in a round peg world.
  • You get to constantly remind your husband that if he’s going to walk around the house naked, he needs to at least close the blinds. (Or is that just me?)

There are so many benefits we experience with each trip around the sun we’re gifted with. I hope that we can all learn to look back fondly on the past, but spend more time looking forward to the adventures that await us. Master this attitude, and “just like that,” life gets a lot more gooder.

So Long 2018!

FB_IMG_1546282269949Hi! I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me. Thought I’d let you know I’m still alive. I unexpectedly had surgery a couple of months ago and it’s taken a while to get back into the swing of things. Despite that, I couldn’t let this year end without one last post. 🙂

Scrolling through my various social media feeds the past few days I have noticed a trend. Most people felt like 2018 was a dumpster fire of a year. I may be in the minority here, but I’d say 2018 was pretty much a good year for me. Yes, there are parts of it I’d like to forget –  I’m looking at you anemia & uterine eviction surgery; parts that were bittersweet – two graduations and one kid’s move to Utah;  however, there were plenty of parts that were amazing – adventures with several people I love, successful surgeries for a few of us, a new doorway opened, and too many others to count. While I will agree that it’s time to put 2018 behind us, for me it was a year full of change, challenge, AND blessing.

A few years ago I started adopting a word for each year. 2018 ’s word is Finish. I have a tendency to begin things with great gusto, only to lose steam part way through, usually leaving a mess in the wake of my endeavors. I’d love to blame it all on my ADD, but I need to own my choices, so I won’t. (I’ve heard this is called adulting which I can confirm is a highly overrated.) Honestly, if I allowed myself that excuse for my laziness I’d never get anything done! 

2018’s word has been challenging, to say the least. And I must admit that there are many unfinished things I’m taking into the new year with me, but there is one thing I finished that I am particularly proud of. My co-author and I finished the first draft of our book. Done. Finito. (Except for the editing, querying, book proposaling, etc. That’s what 2019 is for, right?) This was a huge accomplishment and a leap forward in pursuit of a long held dream. On the merits of this alone I’m calling 2018 a win for me. I finished a freaking book! Following the checking off of that box, I’m ready to embrace a new word, and whatever it brings with it. 

I pulled the picture at the top of this blog from a friend’s Facebook feed. It felt like a great way to look at tomorrow and the new year ahead. 2019 is the beginning of a brand new chapter in the book of our lives. I am choosing to embrace the fresh start. I hope you’ll join me.

As we finish the last page of 2018, there are a few things I’d like to make sure I include in my conclusion:

  • If I have hurt you in any way, I apologize and seek your forgiveness. I will do my best not to repeat my actions.
  • If you have hurt me in any way, I forgive you. I will do my best not to hold it against you. 
  • Finally, I am grateful for each and every one of you that takes the time to read, like, share, comment on, etc., my musings. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.

Onward to 2019!

I Forgot

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I forgot a kid today. I guess technically, I just had the wrong time in my brain, but still – I forgot to get a kid to an appointment that I had made. The office had to call me to see if we were coming. I’m certain the receptionist could hear my cheeks reddening as we talked. To make matters worse, it wasn’t even my kid. Why is it worse to forget someone else’s kid? I’m not really sure, but for some reason it’s a whole lot more understandable to me if it had been my own kid. (Thankfully the kid’s mom is one of my closest friends and instead of chastising me, laughed with me.)

I wish I could say this is the only time it’s happened, but then I would be lying. I’ve done it before. And I’m certain I’ll do it again. Because sometimes it happens. We forget appointments. We forget to roll the trash cans out. We forget to start the dishwasher before we go to bed. We forget to feed ourselves. We forget to feed the dogs. And some of us, even forget to feed our kids every once in a while. 

Why am I rattling on about being forgetful? Because I know sometimes I need a reminder that we, as humans, forget stuff. And that when someone forgets something I think should be unforgettable I need to be gracious. I need to shunt my desire to be angry, hurt, offended or any number of negative emotions and instead remember that I have done the same thing to someone else – and I was treated graciously. 

I have found that when I treat others with grace, I am less negative. Less negativity leads to less stress which begets greater happiness. I need more happiness in my life. Don’t we all?  Especially in our current culture, that seems quick to find offense and amplifies the negative at every turn. It’s exhausting to walk around upset all the time. I don’t have the energy for that.

From here on out, I pledge to do my best to quit jumping to outrage when I feel as if I have been forgotten and instead remember that I have forgotten others as well. I should be the last one to make someone feel bad for a little forgetfulness. After all, I sometimes forget to feed kids so…I’m definitely far from infallible. 

I hope you’ll join me in attempting to spread happiness through the extension of grace. Even just a few of us choosing a more positive attitude can make the world a better place. At the very least, we can make our own lives a little happier.

Dear Mr. Sun

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Dear Mr. Sun,

I saw you peeking out of the clouds this morning, so I know you’re still up there. It’s been so long since you graced us with your presence that I’ve begun to worry about you. Your tears have fallen for weeks now and are collecting everywhere I turn. Some of them have even made their way into my house. It seems like you’re very sad, is there something I can do to help? 

Depression is not to be taken lightly. If that’s what’s going on with you I’m here to offer you an ear, and a referral if need be. I also have a Costco size load of Kleenex if that would be of assistance. My yard is already a mud pit and it would appreciate a little break from being your absorbent material of choice. 

If the bucketloads of water falling to the ground are actually tears of joy, think you could spread it around a little? With the overabundance of clouds and lack of your bright rays we’ve all begun to feel a little morose. Even those with the sunniest (pun definitely intended) of dispositions is ready to blow their top. Not to mention the frustration of my dogs, and the weariness of my junk towels that sit in a muddy mound by the backdoor. 

Whatever the reason for your continued withdrawal from my world, I beg of you to address the underlying issue and come back to me.The sunflowers need. you. I need you. My fellow Texans need you. And if this behavior is a manifestation of your frustration with my frequent complaints about your seeming ever-present heat, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize. I’m sorry for blaming you for my late summer crankiness. It’s not you, it’s me. I will attempt to refrain from blaming you for my issues. I promise to do better.

No matter the reason for your disappearance, we can get you through this. There’s no need to continue hiding behind the clouds. It will all be okay. You just need to come back. I’m begging you. On my knees. In the mud. Please, please, please come back!

With all of my heart,

Shannon

Being the Yes

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I’m at the age where grandchildren are most likely in the not too distant future. I know the thought of being called “Grandma” makes some women feel old. Not me. I’m filled with joy at the prospect. I am more than ready to move from being the “No” that motherhood requires and becoming the “Yes” that is the hallmark of grandparenthood.

In anticipation of my hoped for change in status I decided to start planning a few things and determining some guidelines. As it’s often helpful to solicit ideas from others, I thought I’d share a few of my ideas and ask you for some as well. For the kids out there, you should consider this a version of “What to Expect: Grandparent Edition.”

  • Saturday morning breakfast will be eaten directly out of the ice cream container.
  • Bedtime may be suspended at any time for any reason.
  • Jumping on the bed is encouraged.
  • There is never a bad time for a new toy.
  • Totally Chocolate Dinner constitutes a viable meal option.
  • Pajamas are acceptable daywear, regardless of the day’s plans.
  • Mismatched socks are preferable.
  • You can never have too many stuffed animals.
  • Baths filled with toys are to be expected.
  • Nap? Only if I feel like taking one.
  • Mud puddles are for stomping in.
  • Rarely is there a difference between a want and a need.
  • Payment for household chores done at Grandma’s is to be expected.
  • Overpayment for tasks is also to be expected.
  • Everyday is a good day to bake cookies.

I reserve the right to amend this list at any time. In fact, I’m hoping y’all have some suggestions for additions. I figure if I managed to raise kids to adulthood, I’ve earned the right to start saying “Yes.” And so have you.

Think, Think, Think

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Just after the words left my mouth I knew I shouldn’t have said them. Not before; after. As soon as I realized what I had said, I wanted to rip out my vocal chords and never say another thing again. But then I couldn’t talk, and I kind of like to talk, so that wasn’t really an option. If only I had taken a moment to embrace my inner Pooh Bear and, “Think, think, think,” before opening my big fat mouth.” Why didn’t I? Because I’m human. And humans often suck.

The worst part of the whole thing is that I was speaking out of pride. Actually, that isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that I knew ahead of time I shouldn’t utter my comment because I prefaced the statement with, “I know it’s probably bad to say this but…” Ugh.  I could have just swallowed the words, but nope that’s not what I did. Instead I managed to rip the bandage off the wound of a person I dearly love. A wound that I know is fresh. Sadly, I was so wrapped up in myself I completely failed to realize my words would cause harm. Double ugh.

I know I didn’t cause the original wound, but I’m afraid I managed to make it worse with my carelessness. Looking into the eyes of my loved one I could feel the emotional wreckage she was wading through, and the devastation of feeling like she was back at square one. I managed to precipitate that with my words and in the process once again prove and old adage to be true: We hurt the ones we love. 

Now I’m left trying to figure out how to make things better. I can’t take it back. I can’t make the wound heal. I can’t just go Chuck Norris the person that caused the original wound, because it’s more difficult to kick your own butt than it should be. I really feel the need to fix this. But I can’t. I’m just not that powerful. Sadly, she has to fix what I broke. 

While I may not be able to repair her heart, I did, to the best of my ability, try to at least lessen the damage of my words. I apologized both sincerely and profusely. I took ownership of my headassery and pledged to be more sensitive in the future. And because she is a gracious person that loves me, I was immediately forgiven and assured that she understood I meant no harm. But now I’m faced with a far greater task – forgiving myself. 

I don’t know about you, but forgiving myself is incredibly difficult. I try to be quick to forgive others.  However, when it comes to myself, it’s much harder. Instead of cutting myself some slack, I  usually just add my latest transgression to my personal failures highlight reel. A reel that seems to be on a never-ending loop inside my head. Apparently I don’t need external critics as the most vicious one in my life stares back at me from the mirror every day. This is my truth. But I don’t want it to be. And I certainly don’t want it to be for anyone else. 

This episode reminded me that I, just like the rest of humanity, am a work in progress – not a completed one. I can still make changes to my truth. And today I’m committed to making two more revisions to my structure: 1.) Be more like Pooh Bear and “Think, think, think,” before I speak and 2.) Remember that self-forgiveness is just as important as forgiving others. It may not be a grand plan, but at least it’s a plan I have a chance of sticking to. 

My hope in sharing my struggle with self-forgiveness is both altruistic and selfish. I’ll go with altruism first. If even one person is helped by reading this I’ll consider it a win. And now to my selfish ambition. I’d love to hear other suggestions for how to handle both my lack of verbal filter and difficulty with self-forgiveness. If you, dear reader, have any tips on how to accomplish either of these goals, please share them with me. I promise to shut up and listen.

Shameless Plug

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Full disclosure, this is really hard for me. Really hard. But I have to ask all of you for a BIG favor. If you’re enjoying my blog, would you please, Like, Share, Follow via WordPress and/or email, etc.? So essentially all the stuffz? I really need to increase my platform and I don’t know how else to do that other than to ask all of you for help.

Why do I need to increase my reach? Because, I can’t believe I’m actually able to say this, but I have a book to sell. And I need a larger platform to help convince a publisher that they should buy the book.

A little backstory: Last year my dear professor friend asked me to help her write a textbook for her course on Family Conflict. Needless to say I was flabbergasted that she would trust me to help her on such a big project. You see, what she didn’t know was that I have always wanted to write a book, but was afraid to do it. Afraid of what? Failure. Yeah, I know, that’s a really stupid reason not to try something. Alas, that was exactly the choice I had made. But thankfully, I was capable of making a different choice and with a lot of encouragement, I did.

Fast forward 14 months and we now have the first draft completed. It’s still a ways from being ready to send to a publisher, but I need to start working on the ancillary stuff, like a digital platform, before we submit our first book proposal. And that’s why I’m coming to you, asking for your help. To make it as easy as possible, I’ve complied a handy dandy list for you, several with links attached.

How You Too Can Shamelessly Plug Me

I truly appreciate all of you and all the support you have given me since I began this endeavor. I promise not to spam your inbox or give any of your info away. It’s just between us.

Thank you for allowing, and helping, me to shamelessly plug myself. 

 

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