Life Lessons From "The Gambler"

When I was a young child my parents listened to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and the Oak Ridge Boys; groups that would be considered country classics these days.  Kenny Rogers was my favorite, or so the story goes, because even at the age of 4 or 5, when I found out my parents were attending a Kenny Rogers concert I BEGGED to be able to go with them.  It must have been impactful, because even now I have this foggy memory of sitting in the seats and watching Kenny Rogers croon on this floating stage and feeling very excited. 

One of my favorite songs was "The Gambler".  Maybe it was the catchy beat of the music or maybe it was the snazzy background vocals, but I think it was the slightly reckless life advice embedded in the lyrics that thrilled my young mind and my fantastical perceived possibilities of adulthood.  The answers to a successful life were right there in the lyrics of a song! It turns out this advice is not as straightforward and helpful as I originally believed. 

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

Seems fairly straightforward.. These four options seem to cover all the bases, but it is still lacking crucial information that adult me would like to understand: HOW?

How do I know which is the right decision?  How do I know if I should hold 'em or fold 'em?  Is there some kind of flow chart? Or a checklist of examples for each scenario?  Something that can be easily printed on astrobrite colored paper or passed out in some charming marketing package that looks like an actual deck of cards you can check off as you go.  The planning side of my brain, the perfectionism part, the fear of negative consequences corner would appreciate such clarity.  Instead, I am in a constant loop of second guessing.

It seems my child-self believed that the answers to the how would just miraculously appear and I would just know, because isn't that what happens when you become an adult?  You just know?   Kenny Rogers said so.  Dear child-me, you have always had too high of expectations.  

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep

Who knew this song was an ode to minimalism?  The crux of the argument is on knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.  Learning to throw away the cards that don't serve me, that is a lesson I am still working on.

I hold on to much. 

Also, I hold on too much.

But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep


Coming Back to My Words

It's been four years since I have made an attempt to even look at these pages.  It's crazy to me to think that I tried to begin documenting this motherhood journey 6 years ago.  It's also sad that I stopped.  Blog posts require more time than a quick Facebook post with a cute quote from a kiddo.  My small people liked to sit on my lap and be in the middle of everything that I am doing at all times.  Slows down progress immensely. 
As I'm reading the posts I did publish and the drafts I did write, it makes me wish I had more to read: memories to cherish and be reminded of, reflections of who I was and how that compares to who I am now.  Maybe it is time to take a fresh look these pages and to create new ones.  Maybe it's time to put down my own story in my own words again.  Words are powerful.  The older I become the more I understand the power of my own story. 


A Day in the Life

There are many things that happen in my house that might seem different to other people and that I would consider normal and wouldn't give a second thought.  Sometimes, however, something seems so obviously specific to a Deaf/hearing household, so uncommon that I can't help but think "I bet most couples don't say these things".  That happened the other day while perched at the top of a tree. 

Now you are really curious, right?

Just a few days ago Spring gave us a little teaser of a warm day.  The kids were thrilled to play outside on the swingset. I took advantage of the time to do a little yardwork at the same time.  Our willow tree was getting out of control. 

I began by trimming the branches I could reach, but before long I was pulling out a step ladder, that then led to climbing it to get to the top branches. 

There I was, precariously perched on a few thin branches at the top of the willow tree.  The kids were playing, James was working in another part of the yard.  It dawned on me: I could easily fall out of this tree and even if I screamed or landed with an impressive thud, James would have no idea. 

So, this conversation ensued:

Me: Guys, if I fall, tell Daddy, ok?
MB: Why?
Me: Sigh, because he is Deaf and won't hear me fall.
MB: Just be careful, Mommy, and don't fall.

Her last comment was said with the sass and incredulation of a 13-year-old who has to suffer her parents' ignorance on a daily basis. 

It was in this moment that I thought, "I think this might be unique to our particular situation". 


Simple Pleasures

There have been several things going on in my life lately.  Things I have found stressful.  Compounding stress.  It hasn't been fun. 

When I was in high school I worked in a jewelry store, with an incredible Italian woman who was a jeweler.  She once made me a necklace of a rope with a knot tied to the end of it.  It was a reminder: when I thought I was at the end of my rope, I should tie a knot and hang on for dear life. 

That is where I am at right now.  Trying to hold on to that rope, that knot.  Trying to keep it all together.  I should be focusing on gratitude.  I should be focusing on all the ways in which my life is incredible.  I should stop having a pity party for myself.  However, I am tired and worn out from fighting these recent stressful situation ... I am running out of strength to hold on to the knot right now. I am coping with this loss of identity by wallowing in self-pity for a bit. 

Today, the weather was beautiful.  The kids and I jumped on the new "jumpoline".  I tried to jump out some of that stress.  I tried to stay present in the moment with the kids.  I tried to focus more intently on their expressions and their laughter.  I pushed them on the swingset.  I even got on a swing myself and tried to remember when I was a kid.  Kicking my legs out, trying to touch the branch of a tree, pumping my legs back and forth to go as high as possible.  For a moment I felt that shift of not just remembering, but being that little girl, who wanted to swing so high she felt like she was flying.  A little girl who felt freedom in those movements; defying gravity because all things are possible. 

In that moment, I found a little hope.  A little something to help feed my soul, to be able to push outward, against the suffocating pressure of reality of life lately. 

Tomorrow, I may be back in the folds, but today, I am trying to hold onto the knot in the rope just a little tighter, because today I can. 

Mommy Wars: Will We Ever Be Kind To One Another?

I started following a new blog a few weeks ago.  I won't mention which one, as I am no longer a follower and am not interested in driving traffic that way. 

It was a "mommy-blog".  A financial mom-blog and I was curious after hearing about it on the radio. 

It turns out that this particular blogger likes to demean and berate women for their choices, through a financial lens. 

Here's the thing. It's crab-theory and I am so tired of it.  In many ways, life as a woman is great, thrilling, unique and exciting.  But, in many ways, it is hard, exhausting and burdensome.  While we can have men who are supportive and sympathetic and understanding, they cannot be empathetic.  Only we can offer that to each other.  And we need each other.  We need each other to remind us of our gifts and talents.  We need each other to support and encourage us when the times are hard, the monotony is too much and we stumble. 

We are living in a better time than generations before us in many ways, but we are living in a society that is a far cry from looking at the sexes equally.  There are enough obstacles out there for us to have to overcome without dragging each other down, too.

Let us not tear each other down, but instead work to build each other up. 


My UN-word 2014

For the record, I have tried and tried to fix the formatting of this post, but nothing is working for me right now. Sigh. So I am going to go ahead and link this to the un-word link, but continue to work on the formatting. Not sure why no matter what I do, words are split, spacing is funny and font sizes are funky. :(
I found this lovely little idea from The Nester.
I have already changed my New Year's Resolutions from a list of shoulda.... 
which turns into coulda and woulda, to one-word that helps define my year.
Now, The Nester and some of her friends are suggesting adding an UN-word to the year. Something you want to get rid of in your life.
Initially I was thinking, well this is easy.  
I could write a whole list of things that I want to get rid of: things about myself that I would like to not be, or stop being or needs to be changed or could be improved.  
If you need to go negative, I'm your girl.  
I am able to see the flaws, focus on how it could have and should have been 
better. What more could have been done. What more I should have done.  
I am the best at obsessing about my own flaws and beating myself up for them.  
And in this rambling I came up with my UN-word of the year: UN-lack.
I know. It's awkward.
And there is probably some dirty joke in there, or at least a rhyme to an 
inappropriate limerick.
Still, I'm sticking with it.
Why is it that I can come up with a huge list of things that I lack?  
Why is it I can be so very hard on myself? 
Why is it so hard for me to see myself in a more positive light? 
Why is it so hard for me to see so many things in a positive light?
Most days, my cup runneth over. Truly. I do believe that, even if I forget it.
But the area that I feel needs the most time is me.  
The area that lacks the most is me.
Why am I not more organized?
Why can't I get more done in a day?
Why don't I remember more things?
Why can I not give my kids enough?
Why do I struggle to balance being a part-time
stay-at-home-mom and two part-time jobs?
Why am I not a better friend, daughter, sister,
mother and wife?
Why do my kids seem to fight more when I am
around than when I am not?
What if I am not teaching my kids enough?
See that list? It's only a partial one; but you can see, the overall theme is all 
that I feel I lack.
Maybe I do lack those things and more, but maybe, just maybe, I have more 
than I see for myself.
Maybe I don't lack as much as I think I do.  
Perhaps, in this yearlong journey of trying to see myself, not for what I lack, but for the skills and strengths and gifts I have, I might actually believe in it.
Well, it's a start.
Here's to 2014: The Year of UN-LACK!


New Year: One Word, and A Promise to Myself

When I thought about starting a blog.... it was about doing something for me.  And if you look at my history, you will see that it is one more thing that was for me that I haven't kept on well at all.  This makes me sad.  Sad in the sighing, shaking my head, throw my hands up in the air in utter defeat and crawl back in bed with the covers pulled over my head kind of sad.  First world problems I guess... but at the same time I think that it is probably a global problem that women put others before themselves.... ALL THE TIME.  

And that's what has happened for me and this blog.  It was going to be a way to document my life and the life of my family and the crazy antics we have and instead it has become one more thing on my list of wish I had time for, but just doesn't happen.  Which brings me to the New Year and resolutions and such.

Last year I found the trend to do a one word theme for the year, instead of a list of resolutions that in the words of Mary Poppins are "pie-crust promises.  Easily made, easily broken."  

Last year I chose "Simplify".  

It was a good word.  Something I needed.  And honestly, it was something I kept in my mind throughout the year, even if I wasn't always keeping things simple, I did try to keep it in mind. Usually, resolutions are out the door after the first week, so I think that the one word theme was more of a success than a list of resolutions, but certainly 365 days later my life is not the amazing example of simple living that I had hoped I would be living.  Sigh.

So I have been mulling over giving it a go again this year and trying to decide what my word would be and what would that look like.  

I had kind of settled on "Less".  

Less sitting, less complaining, less stuff, less weight, less stress.... and then I thought I needed to change it to a phrase to fully encompass the idea "Less is more".  Less seemed inadequate in some ways.  If someone asked me about my resolutions or my word, I would have to spend a long time explaining, but "Less is more" wouldn't require as much defining.  So I have spent way too much time overthinking my one word for the year and whether it would be ok to have a phrase instead of just a word and you can probably see why words like "simplify" and "less" might be good ideas for me to try to practice.  Sheesh!

So deciding to move on from the one word/one phrase debate in my head, I analyzed and determined what made it successful and why wasn't it successful?  Why at the end of 365 days did I not feel like my life was as simplified as I wanted it?  Where did I go wrong?  And then I stumbled across this article and it has completely inspired me to change my whole approach to things.  My life isn't simple because I lack good systems.  I would have less stuff and less stress and more of the good stuff, if I had better systems and used them everyday, instead of the willy-nilly way I approach life now.  It always seems to be more of putting out fires and focusing on the most immediate crisis, which is probably more my fault than I would like to admit.  Somewhere in life I got too busy and stopped creating, or never created a system to deal with each thing I do in my day, so that good habits are built in my day.  Duh!!!  

I almost thought about changing my one word to "Systems"... 


But it doesn't sound pretty or inspiring.  


It kind of falls off the tongue in one big dud.  Therefore, I am sticking with "Less" with the idea that "Less is More", but achieving this will happen this year by focusing on creating systems.  

So, I have the inspiration, I have a plan and hopefully at the end of the year I have MORE by having LESS.  

What do you need less of so that you can have more? Do you have systems that work in your day?  What systems work for you?