Tattered and Torn in the Aftermath of the Election

tattered flag

How I feel … tattered to bits. (Photo by frankieleon on Flickr)

 

A tattered flag, blowing in the wind. After yesterday’s election, this photo seems symbolic of how many of us feel today. It feels raw and unreal, like someone knocked the wind out of me. I have an ache in my heart, a weight on my chest and a lump in my throat. And I am shaken to my core.

I know many of you feel the same, and I think we need each other right now to help process our feelings and make sense of the reality that has been thrust upon us. Our candidate didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost. I’m trying hard to believe that (although I don’t think I’m there yet).

 

Comforting Our Tattered Souls

 

Now, more than ever, we need each other. To share our devastation, to offer words of comfort and wisdom. To heal our freshly wounded spirits. So, yes, I’ve been reading Facebook posts and news articles. I briefly checked my Twitter feed to see what inspiration I can find there. I watched Hillary deliver her speech this morning, and while I remain inspired and hopeful, the sadness and disbelief consume me. These feelings will need to dissipate before I can turn my tattered psyche to meaningful action. But she reminds us,

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it.

Whatever we do, we must remember the strength that comes with our diverse perspectives and bring them together to make a difference. After all, our nation was built on this notion, and it still holds true – we ARE stronger together.

 

Tattered images come together to reflect our beautiful diversity

Our diversity makes us strong. (Photo from the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts on Flickr)

 

Other Voices in the Storm

 

For me, beyond the heartbreak lies the fear. Fear of what this really means for our nation. Fear for our near and distant futures. Fear for the world our children will inherit and how this will impact their hopes and dreams.

I know those wiser than me will find a way to make sense of all this. And I stand ready to do my part to make sure our country remains a place to be proud of. I love what Amy Bruinsma says today on Her View from Home,

We have an opportunity to meet ignorance with understanding. We have an opportunity to bring light into this thick cloud of dark.

Fear will knock, its beckon louder and louder, don’t leave it on the other side of the door. Answer the knock with courage.

And she provides this quote:

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ Nelson Mandela

She offers a Canadian’s perspective on our election, and she beautifully describes why this impacts all of us – not just those of us in the United States. It’s more than an election; it’s about our very freedom and way of life.

Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery reminds us that women have always been warriors, and whatever happens, we’ll continue to be warriors. She tells us,

We are not what just happened. But we might be what we do next.

The next right thing has and forevermore will be: Get back to work.

 

From Tattered to Tough, Shattered to Strong

 

The best we can do is spread a message of kindness, love & respect, especially to our kids – three infinitely difficult concepts in times like this. Unfortunately, the ugly campaign made the lack of these 3 traits normalized to an unprecedented degree. I still fear that the incivility that has characterized this campaign has become the new normal and that our divisions will only become more pronounced.

But we march on and do our best to raise a new generation. Hopefully one that will turn out to be more thoughtful and united than the current one. As an older people, we must think of our younger voters and children as we address the challenges that will inevitably present themselves. What can we do to ensure that they have every opportunity to build bright futures? How can we open our hearts and minds to every son and daughter of our nation, whether they are black, white, brown or yellow; straight, gay or trans; able-bodied or differently-abled?

 

It Won’t Be Easy But We Can Do It

 

We must educate one another about the problems in our communities and work together to find solutions. This means stepping up to fill a need rather than sitting back and letting someone else do it. And it means practicing patience (hard to do), teaching tolerance and appreciation of differences (also hard to do), and allowing ourselves to be in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes sitting in discomfort is just the thing we need to move us to action.

It means loving the unlovable, walking in another’s shoes and fighting injustice and divisiveness with everything we have, so we can all contribute to building a more perfect union. It means examining our systems and institutions to be sure they’re working for everyone and re-learning how to compromise and cooperate – vitally important skills we learn at the earliest age but seem to have forgotten.

Our democracy asserts that public servants serve the public, not just the people who agree with them. So make sure your public servants know what you need, and hold them accountable for addressing our collective challenges. And be sure to do your part to actively participate in local, regional and national community affairs. Our democracy depends on us all working together. As members of this republic, this is our job. Let’s do it well.

We’re can only get better when we share and support on another. Whether your candidate won or lost, what can you do to help move us all forward during this contentious time? Leave your comments below (and please be thoughtful and respectful of each other).

 

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Birthday Fun and a Bubbly Beauty Must-Have

Birthday photo

Celebrating my 50th birthday! (Photo courtesy Kraig Haver, my awesomely talented brother-in-law.)

 

Celebrating birthdays can be festive or frightening, depending on how you look at it. I just celebrated a BIG birthday, and this year I chose to embrace it. I have been noticeably absent on my blog for the past 2 months. This fall has brought more stress than I anticipated. With new schedules and changing responsibilities, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as I approached my birthday, I decided to try to let go of the stress and focus on the joyful moments life brings instead.

 

Birthdays All Start with Family

 

Those joyful moments started with a fabulous weekend with my family to celebrate our decades birthdays. In this special year, my niece, two of my sisters and I all reach(ed) a decade milestone. With four of us turning 30, 40, 50 and 60, we thought it was time for a celebration. So my sisters, my mom and my niece gathered in Austin, TX for a weekend of fun and family, including some wonderful family photos compliments of my photographer brother-in-law.

decades birthday family

The Decades and the Middle Ages (those with the gold stars, not celebrating a decade birthday this year)

 

We enjoyed a weekend full of amazing food, hilarious games, an afternoon of painting and overall silliness, relaxation and the kind of fun that you can only have with those who know you best.

 

birthday collage

Mom with the Decades Ladies, scrumptious dumplings, painting fall colors & getting “space-y”

 

Bubble Wrapping Our Weekend

 

Perhaps the most fun we had was our late night beauty treatment on our last night together. After 3 days of good times, we got a little loopy and decided it was time to give ourselves a home spa experience. Because everyone needs a little pampering before boarding a plane at the end of a great weekend.

 

bubble mask jar

 

My sister pulled out her jar of Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. (You can’t even say that without smiling. Go ahead, try it!) After slathering this stuff all over our faces, the hilarity rose to a whole new level. Once it goes on, it starts to fizz and bubble and puff up. All. Over. Your. Face. It gets tickly and tingly and altogether fabulous! We couldn’t stop laughing, even as our faces were getting ultimate beautification.

 

birthday bubble masks

 

After 15-20 minutes, once we finally stopped laughing, we rinsed away the bubbles. This stuff leaves your skin fresh, smooth and dewy with a perfectly clean feeling. And almost 3 full weeks later, my skin still feels smooth! With my aging skin, I’ve struggled over the past year with my skin feeling dull and needing exfoliation almost all the time. But this stuff finally solved my problem. I’m sold. And the best part? Not only did this provide me with a lasting happy memory, you can order it on Amazon for around $8. Click the link below if you want to try it!

(This is an affiliate link. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using my links. Note that I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!)

 

The Birthday Fun Doesn’t Have to End!

 

Here’s a thought … if you have Amazon Prime and you order today, you can have it hand before Halloween. (If you don’t have Amazon Prime, click the link at the bottom of this post to start a 30-day Free Trial Membership.) And if handing out candy is your job, why not answer the door while making your skin silky smooth? You won’t even need a costume!

This really has been a fantastic birthday month. I’m having so much fun that I think I’ll keep celebrating as long as my friends and family will let me. After all, a big birthday deserves that kind of attention, and I think I’ve earned it.

Here’s wishing you all joy, laughter and love in your lives on your birthday and always!

What special ways to you celebrate milestones? Do you have any fun beauty products to share that really work? Tell me about them in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas!
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Tragedy, Heartache and Opportunity

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Photo credit: Luke Detwiler on Flickr

 

Dear readers,

 

I’ve been trying to write for the past two days, and I can’t seem to get it done. Given the tragedy of the past few days – the senseless deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge (LA), Philando Castile in Falcon Heights (MN) and five Dallas police officers – posting a light story and a pasta recipe didn’t seem right.

This has been a trying week, and it seems like the heartache and tragedy have no end in sight. It makes me wonder what has gone so wrong that we have a hashtag honoring new victims of violence almost daily.

To top it off, my son and I had an encounter with a man in the parking lot at summer camp drop-off on Friday morning. This man, who I assume is the dad of another of the campers, felt it was necessary to jump out of his car and verbally attack my child for *almost* tapping his car with our car door. My son, who can usually let things roll off his back pretty easily, felt shaken and upset when, only moments before, he was so excited about being at camp.

 

It Made Me Wonder

 

When did it become okay for an adult to value his car’s paint job over a child’s worth and energy and sense of self? When did being stopped by the police mean being shot to death in front of a 4-year-old? And when did a peaceful protest become an opportunity for a disturbed individual to violently gun down police officers? Have we become so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to understand the concept of love and kindness and compassion toward our fellow human beings?

My heart aches for the families and loved ones of those we lost this week. I can’t imagine what they must be feeling. But I know that their losses cannot be in vain. We all have a responsibility to do something to make things better.

If we truly want to turn this around, we need to take a step back and look at what has brought us to this place. I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s thoughts on these recent events. So many have eloquently expressed their outrage and heartbreak far better that I ever could. So rather than try to make sense of this tragic week myself, I thought I would share some wise words from wise people.

 

Voices of Tragedy

 

Whether 2 of you reading this or 200, I hope you’ll take some time to explore some of these resources. They’ve helped me sort through my feelings and try to make sense of the senseless. I hope they can do the same for you.

Cool Mom Picks provided a wonderful compilation of links in response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Keep in mind, this came out before the Dallas shootings, so resources related to violence against police are not included.

To help explain the bias that Black people in America feel every day, read this. Thomas sheds light on the reality of the Black Tax and how weary our African American brothers and sisters have become. In contrast, one of my favorite bloggers, Jill from Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, writes about understanding White Privilege and how critical that has become.

This Baton Rouge mom explains why Alton Sterling’s death has changed how she talks with her White sons. It breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time.

Of course, any number of news outlets can provide you with detailed accounts of what has happened and how things continue to unfold. And if you’re looking for something to do, @joshuadubois offers this option – a simple letter you can write to your local police chief. Adapt it as needed to reflect your own questions, concerns and feelings.

 

Out of Tragedy Comes Opportunity

 

If you feel, like I do, that these events present an opportunity, I encourage you to do something. Do something to support your African American friends and neighbors. (Hint: start by educating yourself on what Black Lives Matter really means. Read this simple analogy to help you understand.) Do something to appreciate the difficult and sometimes dangerous work our police officers do to protect us.

Write a letter, talk to a friend, try to make a difference. But please don’t answer violence with more violence. Don’t respond to hate with more hate. We all need to do our part to stop that cycle and fix our broken communities.

On that note, I’ll leave you, again, with wiser words than mine. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of our most eloquent leaders put it beautifully …

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

Please don’t be silent any more. Don’t let the bad people win. Let love win and peace prevail. Please.

What will you do to end the cycle of hate and violence? Leave your actions, ideas and comments below.

 

 

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Last Minute Father’s Day Gift

Easy Last Minute Father's Day Gift

Easy Last Minute Father’s Day Gift

 

This Sunday, those of us in the U.S. celebrate our dads. Are you ready? Or have you been so busy keeping your kids occupied or running them to and from camp that now you have to look for a last minute Father’s Day gift?

Fear not, I’ve got a super simple craft that you can do even if you aren’t crafty. If you can trace, cut and glue, you’ve got this! And like the other Father’s Day craft I posted on this blog, it’s a fabulous, personalized, custom piece that won’t cost a fortune.

My friend, Michelle, made one of these, and I love it so much that I “borrowed” the idea for Father’s day a few years ago. I made two of these for the grandfathers, and they love them. Two complete projects took a little bit of shopping time and about 45 minutes of actual assembly time. If you only make one, it will go even faster.

Since it was for the grandpas, I included my hand and my husband’s hand, because we’re they’re kids, too. Michelle’s represents her whole family, so she included her and her husband’s hands. But do what works for you. You can certainly just include your kids, or gather your siblings if you’re making it for your dad.

 

Gather Your Supplies

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A frame with an 8×10 opening. I recommend getting one with a mat included, so your frame will likely be 11×14 like this one here (affiliate link). (Bonus: if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get free one-day shipping to get it here before Father’s Day!)

  • Several coordinating sheets of colored paper (I used scrapbook paper) – one for each person + one for the background. Check these out (affiliate link), and again, Amazon Prime!

  • Scissors, glue & a permanent marker.

 

Last minute Father's Day supplies

Just a few simple steps, and you’ve got a fantastic last minute Father’s Day gift

 

Here’s How You Do It

  • Pick a hand, and trace each person’s on a different color sheet of paper.
  • Cut out each hand.
  • Lay them out, stacked largest to smallest, on your background sheet using the mat as a guide.
  • Once you like it, glue everything down.
  • Hand letter whatever message you like at the top. You could say “Happy Father’s Day,” “The {Your Last Name} Family,” or whatever you like. I always add the date, too, so you can see how much the kids grow over the years. If you’re worried about hand lettering, you can make your message look professional using your printer, a pencil, and a simple transfer technique. Here’s how you do it (excuse the little bird chirping in the background; he wanted to be in the video!):

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  • Once you’re done, erase any stray pencil marks and place your project in the frame, wrap it up and wait for the smiles. They’re going to love it!

For very little time and money, you can make this simple project that looks as polished and professional as the most expensive custom keepsakes.

What do you think? Is this something you would make for your family? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

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