Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sundays are my Favorites

I'm sitting here in my bed, with a book and pen in hand, praise music blasting through the house, hubby making breakfast in the kitchen.  I was thinking what a great morning it is, and then realized that this is how I feel every Sunday.  It's truly my fave!

I don't set my alarm on Saturday nights.  I wake up when the sun comes streaming through my windows or Willow starts scratching on her kennel to be let out--whichever comes first.  After letting her and the big dogs outside, I begin the feeding ritual for the menagerie we have here at the Royal house.  Truth be told, sometimes I give the chickens a bit of extra on Saturday evening so I don't have to feed them as early on Sundays. Shhhh!  Bwahahaha!

When something is good, I find myself analyzing it.  Is it because I don't have to race off to work?  Because I don't have to deal with cranky teenagers and getting them to school when they would rather be sleeping? Because we are slackers and attend the latest service possible at church?  Yes.  And yes.  And yes some more.

Maybe it's the anticipation of knowing I can take a nap if I want it.  

Maybe it's because it truly is a day of rest for me.  

Maybe because I usually plan our dinner meal on Saturday and am not scrambling to find time to not only figure out what we are going to eat, but to actually cook it.

Really, who cares?  And does it even have to be Sunday--could it be Friday or Wednesday or Monday (okay--probably NOT Monday)?

I think it all boils down to being unhurried.  Enjoying and savoring every moment of it.  Being cognizant of the details and feeling gratitude for them--for however long they last.  Even if only this morning.  

I realize I NEED Sunday mornings.  I need the slow, unintentional time to just think and dream and read and maybe even create.  

Do you have a "Sunday Morning Day?"  Maybe yours is not morning, but evening--after everyone is in bed and the house is still and quiet.

What do you do with your "Sunday Morning Day?"

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Am I really a Consultant?

Last week I finished my very first big consulting gig.  I created a volunteer training management process for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I still get kinda giddy when I say that--it's pretty awesome, huh?!?!

If you would have told me a year ago that someone would hire me to write down and teach them what I know, I would have laughed at you.  I mean, seriously, how many people get this opportunity?

It all started with a conversation with a friend.

Actually, it started before that conversation.  It was when I told God I would walk through any door He put in front of me and I would reach out to every person he put on my heart/mind.

I haven't kept track of how many people I actually met with over the last year, but it's been a LOT.  And there are still many more that I reached out to and either never heard back, or it just hasn't worked yet to get together.  And I won't even tell you how many doors I've walked through that didn't lead anywhere.

But back to that conversation...It was an early one--I think I met him at 6am (which meant I left my house at 5:15).  And it lasted for 3+ hours.  I just spilled what was on my mind and he took notes.  He had covered a couple of pages on his legal pad by the time we were done.

And here's what I learned in that conversation: What's ordinary for me could be extraordinary for someone else--and vice versa.  We have so much more inside us than we know.  SO much more that we don't even realize is buried under all the regular day-to-day stuff.  If I personalize that--I have so much more that I would have ever dreamed inside of me and there are people out there who are dying to have that info that just comes second-nature to me.  In fact, when I was meeting with the team I was creating the project for, I lost count of the number of times they would ask me questions and I would answer and then they would ask me to put that in the project--stuff I didn't even think to add because it was just "ordinary" for me.

And here's what I also know.  I met with that friend on the suggestion of another friend...because of a comment I made about wanting to write a book...which we barely even touched on in that conversation that led to this consulting gig.

In this season of life, I am learning that things don't always look like I thought they would.  In fact, they almost never look like the vision I have in my head.

My choice is to keep trying to make them fit inside the box in my head OR let go and just follow them in the form they appear in.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Meeting Mister B Herd

Have you ever been to Salado, Texas?  This past weekend, we stopped in on our way home from Austin.  As we were driving through, we were trying to remember the last time we visited and it was before our girls were born, y'all!  Way too long.  It has grown quite a bit and we showed up in town with only a little over an hour before all the shops closed so we didn't get to see much.

But that's okay.  We visited the one shop that mattered.

The B. Herd Gallery.

When we walked in, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful bluebonnet paintings hanging on the wall and sitting on the shelves.  The vivid flowers seemed to jump out and grab me!  I was engrossed so deeply in my ooh-ing and ahh-ing, that I almost jumped when I saw a movement in the corner and a voice asked us how we were doing.

I told him we were fine and continued looking at all the gorgeous-ness surrounding me.  Then, one of my girls grabbed my arm and told me that the man that spoke to us was painting a canvas.  I turned and had to get a look for myself.  Sure enough!  Mister B. Herd was smiling at us with a paintbrush in one hand and paper plate (being used as a palette) in the other--sititng in front of a canvas that was 3/4 of the way done.

I think I was still just a little dazed as I stepped closer to see what he was working on.  I mean, how many times do you walk into a gallery in a little town and see the very talented artist at work?  I went to school at UNT where there were tons of artists, but this is a different level than a starving artist sale.

He explained that he was working on a commission. A client had looked on his website and liked different elements from 2 different paintings so he was combining them into one.  And y'all!  It was gorgeous!!!

As we started chatting with him, he told us he had been painting for 50 years and loved doing it while he talked to guests in his shop--he wouldn't have it any other way.  He gets up every morning, looking forward to coming to work.

I took away a couple of things from that conversation:

  1. To love what you do that you keep coming to work at the age of 83 is just plain awe-inspiring.
  2. He was close to my age when he stopped working his retail job and started following his passion.
  3. Whether it was intentional or just a by-product of his people-personality, his presence adds so much to his paintings.  I went from liking them to feeling like I NEEDED one of his paintings hanging in my home,

We went into a couple of other galleries that day, but they just didn't compare--even the ones who had the famous painters that Brian and I have always loved.  Those just looked dim in comparison to Mr. B. Herd's beauties.

The next time you are driving to Austin, stop in and visit.  Let me know if you do--I'd love to hear if you are as captured as I was.

And if you've already been there, did you leave there inspired?

The B. Herd Gallery is located at 600 N. Main St. Suite 12 in Salado.  If you can't make it down there any time soon, you can visit him online at  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Depression is Real...And H.A.R.D.

Depression is real, but not something I talk about except to those who are close to me.  It's not like heart disease or cancer where, when people know you have it, they have sympathy.  Depression elicits fear in people.

Fear that being around me will bring them down too.

Fear that they will say the wrong thing.

Fear because they simply don't understand it.

I've struggled with depression most of my life, but didn't realize it.  Looking back, I can't believe I missed the signs, but, I didn't even know what they were.  Even if I had known what to look for, I still might not have seen it because depression doesn't always follow a rulebook.

In fact, it never follows that damn rulebook.  That might make it easier to deal with.

Sometimes depression has looked like not being able to get out of bed.  Sometimes, it's felt like there's a cloud following me.  Other times, it's just been a feeling of tired-ness that blankets everything.

Yes, there are medications for it.  And yes, counseling can definitely help.  But true depression doesn't always go away, even with those things.

Depression for me isn't usually completely black--I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but most of the time, the light is so far away and trying to figure out how to get there seems so very exhausting at the least, and impossible at the worst.

One of the hardest things about depression is knowing the struggles my friends have--loss of a baby, kids with major illnesses, divorce, parents with alzheimer's, etc.--and feeling like my pain is so inconsequential compared to theirs.  It creates feelings of guilt and shame and makes me feel helpless because I want so badly to do or say something that will help them, and I know it will take my mind off of my own crap, but I can't even handle getting dressed that day.  Which then leads to feelings of hopelessness.

Recently, I watched Beauty and the Beast and was thankful I was at the end of the row, because I found myself sobbing during a song in one of the scenes.  Here are the words:

Days in the Sun

Days in the sun
When my life has barely begun
Not until my whole life is done
Will I ever leave you.

Will I tremble again
to my dear ones gorgeous refrain?
Will you now forever remain
Out of reach of my arms?

All those days in the sun
What I'd give to relive just one
Undo what done
And bring back the light.

Oh, I could sing 
Of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we're under
Still it's the wonder of us 
I sing of tonight.

How in the midst of all this sorrow
Can so much hope and love endure?
I was innocent and certain
Now I'm wiser but unsure.

I can't go back into my childhood
One that my father made secure
I can feel a change in me
I'm stronger now but still not free.

Days in the sun will return,
We must believe
As lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through.

I know this song isn't about depression, but it fits.  Some days, it's almost easy to believe the sun will shine through again, and that's the hope that pulls me through during the darker times.  When I shared this with a friend, he asked me to break down the parts of the song that spoke to me and explain why.

I love this line:
Oh, I could sing Of the pain these dark days bring...Still it's the wonder of us I sing of tonight.

I find myself so often stuck in the pain, but I don't want to.  When you sing of the good, it makes the pain more manageable--that's what the character in the movie learned.

How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?

Depression brings out the yuck.  It makes me want to turn my back on God.  Yep, I said it.  It makes me think that He has forgotten me--that He has bigger fish to fry--more important people to care for. I tell myself to walk away and move on in life without God.

But I can't.  As dark as it gets, I KNOW He's there. My head tells me I'm just a glutton for punishment, but in the depths of my soul, I feel like He is rooting for me.  Even though I can't feel it. Or see it.  Does that sound as crazy as I feel it does?

I'm stronger now but still not free.

Ugh.  No matter how many times I think I've figured it out and won't struggle with it again, it comes back.  This doesn't just apply to depression.  This is most things in life.  The only word picture I can think of is a butterfly that has it's wings, but is still trapped in the cocoon--there's room to flap them, but not go anywhere. It knows what to do, but can't.

Days in the sun will return, We must believe...That days in the sun will come shining through.

I MUST believe.  The only other option is despair.

Like the characters in this fairy tale, I WILL remember my days in the sun (or maybe it's days with the sOn) and push through.

And I will give myself grace when pushing through looks like laying in bed listening to music or watching a mindless tv show for a while.

And I will celebrate when it looks like having a drink with a friend or sitting in the backyard engaging with my daughters.  

Being Original--kinda

I didn't invent the hashtag "Asking for a Friend," but I have made it my own. 

A few years ago, I wrote a facebook post asking my friends which hair color they used if they dyed it themselves.  I made a joke about it being for a friend and had LOTS of comments--from people who had heard from their "friends" which ones worked best. 

I laughed out loud every time I got a comment--I have really funny friends. 

That's when my #Askingforafriend started.  I began posting 1-2 times a week with a question that I answered, "Yeah. me neither." It was usually dumb stuff and there were more chicken posts than I car to admit. 

But it's my thing. 

I'm not the most original person.  In fact, I really do best if someone else has the initial idea.  I can steal better than the best!

Tornado Warnings

We had a big storm tonight.  One with tornado watches and hail and big thunderstorms.  Of course it would happen on the night before Caroline has a big project due at school (that she waited to finish until tonight).

We knew all afternoon it was coming.  I even put the chicken food under the coop so it wouldn't get mushy on them.  We found flashlights and candles and Hope took her shower early--in case the electricity went out.  I took over typing Caroline's project as she read it to me so that we could get it printed before the weather got really bad.

It didn't help that Hope was yelling any time a change happened.  "HAIL!!!  THERE'S HAIL!!!  THERE'S A TORNADO COMING!!!  WE ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING NOW!!!

And Brian was being responsible and unplugging the electronics...including the printer we were madly rushing to get pages from. 

So we cleared spots in my closet, moved all dogs into the room and the girls hunkered down.  Well, actually, Caroline grabbed snacks for her and the dogs first.  And Hope was frantically searching for the portable charger in case she was in there for a while.  And I was gathering jackets and lighters and trying to keep the dogs from going back out.  Oh, and getting a paper towel for Brian's hand that had blood running down it from a cut that he didn't know happened. 

And just when we got everything settled, the storm passed.  And missed us all together. 

That's life in the Royal house for you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

13 Reasons Why...A Review for Parents

There's a series out on Netflix right now called "13 Reasons Why."  It's based on a book by Jay Asher.  If you have teens/pre-teens and haven't heard of the series yet, more than likely they have watched it or know someone who has.

We all have our own parenting style.  This post is NOT designed to tell you how to parent your child and what you should and should not let them watch/read.  That is up to you.

I read the book a few years ago and liked it--it made me think.  It's based on a suicide.  Hannah Baker takes her life, but before she does, she records tapes letting people know why.  I say people and not everyone, because each side of the tape is about a person and how they contributed to her suicide. Once they listen to the tapes, they are to pass them along to the person after them.  There are 13 people she names--hence the name of the book/series. The series goes way more in-depth/graphic than the book and there's talk of a season 2.

As parents, I think shows like this are critical for us to watch.  They are hard and definitely not how I want to spend my down time, but they are necessary.

Here are my 13 reasons why you should consider watching it if you are a parent:
  1. As parents, we need to know what our kids and their friends are watching.  Even if you choose to not let your child see something, they may hear about it from their friends.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. Bullying is not just physical.  This series does a great job of depicting other sides to bullying and how language matters.                                                                                                                                                            
  3. As much as we will protect them, they will be exposed to alcohol and drugs.  This series shows what that looks like in a realistic way--how things happen when they are not in complete control of their senses. How "harmless" drinking isn't harmless.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  4. Popular does not equal Happy.  Remember when you were in high school and you thought how much easier life would be if you were the most popular kid?  Our kids need to know that EVERYONE has issues--no matter how well liked they are.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  5. Social media, while a great way to connect with friends, can have irreversible effects.  If you are like me, you probably harp on this all the time with your kids, but it IS real.  Hannah traces her feelings of despair back to one picture that was shared and taken out of context.                                                                                                                                                                              
  6. No one is an island.  Everything we do affects others.  Our kids need to know this. George Bailey figured this out in "It's a Wonderful Life."                                                                               
  7. Rape happens more than we want to think it does.  In looking for statistics, I found that 1 in 5 high school girls report dating violence.  I hated the rape scenes in this series--partly because I know it happens just like they were depicted.  It was so very hard to watch.                                                                                                                                                                                            
  8. It's okay to not be okay.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness--it's courageous.  Every one of us struggles at one time or another.  We don't have to always have it all together.                                                                                                         
  9. People will let you down.  No one person will ever be perfect--except Jesus.                                 
  10. There is hope.  No matter how dark things seem, there is ALWAYS hope. The suicide scene at the end was horrific.  It was depicted differently than the book and as hard as it was to see it, I think it was more realistic in showing how it's NOT an answer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  11. Good kids make bad choices.  I once read that all teens lie to their parents.  We want to think ours won't do that, but chances are, they will.  They will not always get it right--no matter how well-grounded they are. They will disappoint us and maybe even themselves.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  12. One word/action has the power to change life for someone.  This sounds dramatic, but we've all had one of those days when someone says something kind or unkind to us and it changed the trajectory of that day.  There is a scene in one of the episodes where one of the students even says this--they each had the power to do something, but they each chose to do nothing.                                                                      
  13. We have to talk to our kids about these issues.  Even when it's uncomfortable. Even when we think they aren't listening.  Even when we didn't make good choices ourselves at their age. It's important for them to know we are their safe place and that our love for them is not conditional on their actions--even though we will always pray they do the right thing.  
Again, I want to re-iterate that I think PARENTS should watch this.  You can decide whether you want to let your kids see it.  BUT, I will also tell you I've talked to several whose kids are watching it already.

If you've seen it, I'd love your thoughts.  Are you letting your kids watch it?  Why or why not?