Show ’em What You’re Made Of

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So, it’s not a far stretch to say there are points in my life when I would have been okay with him moving thousands of miles away.

I guess it probably started when we were about three and five.  Coming home with stones in my pants, fat upper lips, and chains off of bicycles, I was pretty used to the normal 1980’s treatment of younger sisters by big brothers.

By middle school, our relationship transitioned into mostly just avoiding each other, although I would take any interaction I could get.  Sometimes I think I would even egg him on to get in a fight with me, just so I could have a sliver of his attention, even if it was painful.  So when I would be upstairs in my room, and I would hear him call, “Sej!!  Seja!  Can you come down here?”, I would drop what I was doing to see what he wanted.  And then of course, him, laying on the sofa, watching TV, looking at me and saying, “…the remote is over there.  Can you throw it to me?”  And me launching the remote directly at his face.

That kind of summed up high school.

As we grew into college, our relationship started to shift, realizing the parts we’d played in each other’s lives up to that point.  The kind of person that isn’t always present, but you know they are there when you need them, and they are the person you call for advice or to just sound something out.

So when David called telling me he’d met this girl, and she was pretty awesome, I knew something was different than the times before.  And a few years later, they were married.  And I gained a sister and a pretty amazing friend.

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And then eventually nephews and a niece.

It’s easy to say my brother is one of my best friends and my strongest ally.

Like the time, when our entire family plus some friends, went to Mexico for spring break together.  A guy started hitting on me.  A guy with no shirt.  And a huge tattoo.  Dave stayed close by, talking with his friends, keeping his eye on me.  I then saw his buddy Jake whisper something to him, then I clearly heard David yell, “Because my sister isn’t going out with a dude with a giant tattoo on his back that says ‘T-Bone.”  That kind of brother.

So now, I feel differently.  I don’t really want him moving thousands of miles away.

But tomorrow they are.  Tomorrow, my brother and his beautiful wife and family are moving to London for three years.

My excitement for them and this experience they are about to have is what comforts me right now.

And mostly, my pride.  I am so proud of this man, who has worked so hard, to go from an entry-level sales representative position to an executive within the same company, and now being transferred across the Atlantic to have the same impact there that he had here.

So now, I kind of feel like that five-year-old again, realizing what I felt even then, wanting his attention, was pride.  Because I knew that even though he beat me to a pulp at times, like all big brothers do, he would never let anyone else.  And his heart, bigger than his little-sister teasing, was always on my side.

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Maia wanting to snuggle when she realizes she won’t see her uncle for a while.

We plan to go visit early next year, and we are so excited for that trip.  But until then, our excitement is for them, for this adventure, for this experience of a lifetime.

We love you, David, Callie, Caden, Brody, and Hadley.  Go show London what you’re made of.

 

Voting for Love

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I love so much, so many things about this country. (Cue Lee Greenwood:)).

I looked out the window while at work today.  Bees and butterflies – they were everywhere – pollinating the flowers and vegetables in my garden.  I love having fresh vegetables and fruit and am so grateful we have them.  I know bees are starting to be around less and less and I would really like to see them stay, so I am voting pro-vegetables-being-around-for-my-grandkids this election.

I love my children.  Being the sisters that they are, they disagree at times (okay, a lot).  They argue, they slam doors, they work it out.  But they don’t make fun of each other and they don’t name-call.  They know once names are thrown, the line has been crossed, and it’s bad for everyone.  In turn, they don’t bully or meanly tease friends.  They’ve learned this because this is what Joe and I and other adults they look up to have taught them, and more importantly, shown them.  So this election season, I am voting for kindness.

I love diversity.  I love others and I love learning about people who are different from me.  We are lucky to live in a melting pot of ethnicities, faiths, and skin colors.  This country was founded so that people from all walks of life could come here in the pursuit of liberty.  The idea that someone cannot come to this country because of their beliefs is called discrimination – not something I love.  So this election, I am voting pro-diversity and inclusion.

I love the feeling of being safe.  I love the idea that my children and family are safe.  I will forever be grateful to the men and women who have died to make this country safe.  I want this feeling for everyone.  I have some friends right now who are not feeling safe because of their faith, because of the idea they one day may have to register their name in this country because of it.  I remember hearing about that once before.  It was in 1939 in Nazi Germany.  And again in 1941 in France.  Those people did not feel safe and for good reason.  So this election cycle, I am voting for safety for all Americans.

I love the rights women have in this country.  I am grateful that I can do all of the things my male counterparts can do.  Currently, I am especially grateful that I can vote, something I couldn’t have done less than one hundred years ago.  I love that my daughters have strong, capable women to look up to and a father who is teaching them skills that used to be reserved just for men.   I love that in this country, they are in control of the choices regarding their bodies, without someone punishing them for it.  So this fall, I am voting for womens’ rights.

I love Jesus.  I love the way he treated everyone around him, including prostitutes, lepers, the poor, and sinners.  He invited them in, dined with them, loved them.  And even though I will never be on the same level as him, I want to live a life as much like him as I can.  A life of empathy, a life of inclusion, and a life of love.  A life of not turning people away because of pre-conceived ideas about who they are.  And I want my children to do the same.  So this fall, I am voting pro-Jesus.

I love working together.  I think it is absolutely amazing when two people who disagree can sit down with each other and listen – really listen – to the others’ opinions and feelings and facts, and come to an understanding.  It gives me goosebumps when leaders from all over the world can work together to make the planet a better place for all of us.  So this fall, I am voting for the leader who will communicate with others.

Most of all, I am voting for hope.  I will not let fear win my vote.  I will let all of that love I shouted all over the page above fill my heart – and throw it all over the place on election day.

I hope you do the same.

Nervous Breakdown

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So running a business isn’t easy.

In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I mean, second to raising kids.  But now that my littles aren’t so little anymore and can do some things around the house for themselves, like make themselves lunch (consisting of fruit snacks and butter knives dipped in Nutella), running a business is close to the top.

It is the hardest I’ve ever worked.

When you are working a corporate job, and it’s your dream to turn your hobby or side hustle into your full-time gig, you (meaning me) don’t think about the late nights, the phone buzzing in the middle of the night, the messages of packages getting lost in the mail.

And you definitely don’t think about the nights when everyone in your family is asleep, (because it’s 2:30 in the morning and everyone should damn well be asleep), but you’re still in your shop working, getting the orders made that need to ship the next day.

No, you’re thinking about the flexibility of your schedule, the potential to get more than a one percent raise each year, the time you get to decide how to spend.

And it’s true, there is that.

But there are the 2:30 in the morning’s that you are still at work and even doing that, you don’t know if you are going to catch up, going to get done what you need to get done.

I had this night four days ago.

Working in my shop, stressed out, hating the work that I loved because it was overtaking everything else.  I had one huge custom order that needed to ship – the customer kept asking when it would ship without much elaboration – which I read as “I need this order as soon as you can possibly make it.”  And this customer, she’s an important customer.  She spends a lot of money with me and I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to ruin this relationship.  But I didn’t see a way out – I was the one responsible for this order, and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get it done in time.

I had arms folded on my workbench with my forehead resting on them.  At 2:30 in the morning.

So, I did what I thought would be disastrous, but I did it anyway.

I wrote the customer an email.

A totally vulnerable, put-it-all-out-on -the-table email.

I told her, I am so sorry, but I cannot ship your order in time.  In fact, it may not ship until next week.  You see, I have lost all balance in my life.  Work is outweighing everything else by about ten to one and your order hit me at a point where I pretty much have nothing left.  I am so sorry.  I hope you understand.

Then I pressed “Send”.

I went to bed, prepared for the reply message that would be waiting for me in my inbox.

Except no reply was there when I woke up.

Which of course gave way to worry and anxiety.

She’s had it, this customer. She’s finding someone else to source from.

I did my best to let it go and enjoy the day with my girls, even though I pretty much laid on the couch because that was all I could muster that day.

Then my phone ding’d.

It was her.

My heart began to race a little, prepared for the bad news.

I wasn’t prepared for what I read, though, when I opened the message:

“SEJA! YESSSSS! Of course love! I totally GET IT! Summer is CRAZY!!! my 3 kids are home and I babysit 3 other FULL TIME! I think i have told you but I have a small in-home daycare!”

That was her message.  She went on to say that she is so crazy, working and balancing her love of jewelry, trying to turn it into her full-time gig, but running an in-home daycare until she can make jewelry full-time.

A message so full of grace and love and understanding was what greeted me, instead of everything my crazy imagination dreamt up.

I had so many emotions after reading this message.

It renewed my spirit of being a business owner, who bootstrapped it from the ground-up.  And the love I had for this woman, who was still in the midst of her own boot-strapping, multiplied by about a thousand.

It renewed my love for my work, creating this business that works alongside others who are also building their dreams and trying to live a life while they do it.

And lastly, I felt ridiculous that I was such a stressed-out mess about something I had created entirely in my mind.  If I was just open with this customer from the start, showing that I am human, that I can’t do it all, and set some limits at the same time, I would have prevented this whole mess to begin with.

So, here I am, embracing myself while typing with a (big) glass of wine, letting my vulnerable self be out in the open.  And now I know better.  And when you know better, you do better, which can maybe lead to your best.

And from now on, my best leaves the shop by 5pm.

Blessings

Seja

A Reason Why

The coops were dry, and the girls have learned that the waterers don’t fill themselves.

The rain beginning to fall, the work continuing until it’s finished.

Filling the five gallon bucket so the chickens have plenty of water for some time, it can be a challenge for an 11-year-old body to carry it back to the coop.

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As she makes her way back to the thirsty hens (plus one rooster), I offer to help.

“I’ve got it, Mom.”

As the fence approaches and the challenge of lifting the heavy container becomes present, she knows it will not be easy.  But how to do it?  I see her, looking at the hens, then looking at the water container.  And then again once more.  I watch from behind the sliding glass door, hindering my reaction to open and offer to help once more.

Then I see her.  Watch her figure it out.  She may not be able to lift the water over the fence, but she can push the fence down.

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And the once, “It’s too heavy”, is now the, “I’ve got this, Mom.”  And the water is where it needs to be.  And the chickens come to drink.

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It is nice to have the eggs, and in the future, the meat.  But the benefits of keeping chickens right now are far outweighing what they provide nutritionally.

Not only is she getting stronger, but we hear less of, “I can’t”.

Less of, “I’m not strong enough.”

Less of, “I don’t know how.”

More of figuring it out.

More of, “I’ve got it, Mom.”

It’s one of the reasons we moved out here – to raise our girls in a world of learning – so that they would know how to take care of themselves, how to take care of others, to have the confidence that they can.

The girls didn’t always take responsibility for these chores, but they’ve grown, and can help more on our land now.  And more importantly, they know they are capable of more than before.

And I rest well, knowing that when they come to a problem, a situation that maybe they had unsure footing, they will have the confidence to face it, to figure it out, and know that they’ve got it.

 

 

 

 

Write Off Wrinkles

Received this in my inbox recently:

Late night of work?  Don’t worry.  Write Off Wrinkles with (insert product).  Divine serum boasts the highest concentration of Immortelle and Myrtle essential oils for visibly younger-looking skin – a necessary step to your anti-aging routine.

Serums and creams and lotions with mysteriously-named ingredients that give us the illusion it is worth the price tag.

And the illusion we need it.

My forty-year-old skin, its lines with traces of the life I’ve led.

It shows the remnants of my smiles, the moments of joy.

Laughter with friends.   Laughter with my husband.

It shows the fine lines on my forehead.  The moments of worry.

I see the lines in the mirror.  I don’t remember what I was worried about.  But because I can’t remember, I know it turned out okay.  And I survived.  And I’m stronger.

The small patch of brown near my hairline and freckles on my forehead.  Days spent in the sun, playing, working.  Days spent breathing the fresh air, sweating, running, gardening, using this God-given body.

I see the women who inspire me.  The women who radiate beauty, regardless of age, because they love life.   They love who they are.  They love themselves.  The woman at the farmers’ market, bringing her gorgeous flowers for the rest of town to enjoy.*

Her beauty glows from within, the time spent in the garden producing something she loves.  Something that makes the world more beautiful.

My mother.  In her gorgeous, I-don’t-have -time-or-care-for-your-products, aura.

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She doesn’t need your anti-aging creams, your wrinkle-reducers, your Immortelle essential oil.

Her beauty comes from within.  As does mine.  As does yours.

Or Manda Beslac, who was probably too concerned with escaping Nazi Europe to think about her skin care regimen.

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Or my grandmother, Madeline, who was busy making a life on a farm, raising a daughter, keeping property.  Do you think she gave two seconds to think about wrinkle cream?  Nope.

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The experiences.

The memories.

The life lived.

I don’t look like I’m 19 anymore.

But I am not her anymore.

I am stronger, I am wiser, I have grown into myself.  And everyday, when I look in the mirror, I want to see her.

I want to see you, too.  I want to see the life on your face, the joy you’ve experienced, the heartache, too.

So let’s not erase it.

Let’s not buy the cream, the lotion, the story they are telling us that we need it.

Let’s shout it at the advertisements, at the billboards, in the make-up aisle at Target.  (Okay, we don’t people to think we are crazy…maybe whisper it to ourselves at Target.)

WE DON’T NEED YOUR PRODUCT!!!

We are gorgeous.  Our lines, our spots, our memories, they make us who we are and remind us of who we were.

And we are too busy living our lives to worry about removing it from our face.

*Thank you to my mom for raising me to believe I was beautiful just as I was.

*And a HUGE thank you to Linda Chapman, who inspires me to follow what I love and to live a life in the sun.  Please stop by Harvest Moon flowers and pick up one of her gorgeous bouquets at a farmers’ market near you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All An Illusion

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I’m so over it.

Words.

That is all they are, really.

They are just words.  Not who we are.

When it comes down to it, we are just a bunch of elements swirling around together to form these vessels our souls occupy.

Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen.

We hear the words, read the words in the media.

I want to shout it from the rooftops!

IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION.

An illusion of words used to put people into groups other than the elements they are, the energy they are.

These words that are used to separate.

To create sides.

To divide us.

The shooter had ISIS tendencies.

The victims were gay.

Words to fuel the fire of how we are different instead of similar.

What if the media reported it differently?

What if instead they said, “A person came in a bar and killed fifty people.”

If we couldn’t put the blame on someone’s color, on someone’s religious beliefs, on someone’s sexual preference?   If we couldn’t put the blame for fifty people dying on how we are different, how could we explain it?

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What do you see in someone you don’t know?  Do you see the similarities or the differences?

Do you see them through the eyes of someone who loves them?

Would you feel the difference?

We can choose to separate ourselves.

We can believe the illusion.

Or we can believe what is real.

We are all the same.

We are all one.

 

For The Women Who Did Not Have Breakfast In Bed Today

tumblr_ntnxuyo7x11rlmj2eo1_1280-2It’s never been said it was easy.

This beautifully hard work of being a mother.

This one day a year when partners and children say thank you, we love you – the day being shown how much you are appreciated.

Unless it’s not.

It’s never been said it was easy.

And today could be the day, when you see mothers being celebrated by their loved ones on social media, that may want to make you throw in the towel.

So, my dear loving mothers who are fixing their own breakfast and coffee today, this is for you.

For the first time mother whose tiny nugget of an infant can’t say Happy Mother’s Day and I love you and thank you for nourishing me.

For the single mothers.

For the mothers whose partners forgot what day it is.

For the mothers whose children forgot what day it is.

For the mothers who no longer have children at home.

For the mothers whose child is no longer on this Earth.

For the mothers who open their hearts and homes to a newborn, until she finds her forever home.

For the mothers who may not feel as loved today as they should…

please know…

You are not alone.

You are amazing.

You are needed.

And you are loved.