Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Many of us have heard the phrase, “Wear your heart on your sleeve”, but what exactly does that mean?

I have my own ideas about the definition of this phrase and it is based on describing many of my closest friends, and even myself as well.  This is probably why we are so close.

It basically refers to people who put themselves out there. They expose their true self to those around them. They have a hard time pretending to be someone else. They struggle with hiding their feelings. They do not feel it is necessary in all situations.

If they are upset, it is evident. Even when they are not open about their disenchantment, it is clearly written all over their face.  They don’t expect anyone to take it personal, because they wouldn’t if it were the other way around.  They realize the world and the people in it does not revolve around them.

If they are happy, everyone knows it. They exude happiness and it rubs off on others. They love to spread the joy.

When something is on their mind, they speak up. When they need advice, they ask for it. Usually though, they just need to talk about it.

They do not like to burden others or bring anyone down, but discussion is therapeutic to them.  This is why they are good listeners as well.  They understand the concept behind this.

When they love, they do so with all their might. They are considerate; even to the point of failing to consider themselves and their own needs in certain situations.

They put others first and themselves, last. They are typically selfless people. They can adapt to having less for themselves if it benefits someone they love in some way.

They are generous, giving people. They would give you a bigger portion of food and deal with less, even if they are left hungry. They would use their last dime to drive over to comfort someone in a time of need.

They see that they are full in other ways. Having peace of mind that your belly is full is what satisfies them. This makes these type of people happy, even if they are still a little hungry.

They are comforted by the fact that they could be there for you in your time of need, even if there was nothing in it for them.

This is because they are loyal, true friends and companions. Among the best a person could ask for, if given the opportunity.

Sadly, these little sacrifices usually go unnoticed. At times, what once was a quality that was appreciated, is now expected. Sometimes, it is even taken advantage of.

People tend to forget to feel grateful for the considerate and selflessness of these actions, regardless of how big or small they are. Not everyone will reciprocate this type of treatment.

All of this is not surprising though.  We live in a society that encourages individuality, and judgement has gone viral.

We are told to think of ourselves before others. We are told to do what makes us happy because if we are not happy, then how can we make anyone else happy.  We are told to weed out those who seem negative and to only surround ourselves with those we feel are positive.

Think about that though. When someone who wears their heart (their emotions) on their sleeve asks you to lend your ear as they express something that has upset them, many will decide that this person is negative.

They will cut them out of their life completely.  It sounds somewhat harsh and cruel if you ask me.  That is, of course, if the other person meant no harm.

Some call them blunt, others call them cold-hearted.  That is because they typically don’t sugar-coat anything. They are realist; They are raw, they call it how they see it and they never mean to offend.  If you were to oppose they would listen and value your opinion as well.

They are open-minded. They are aware that others may have a different perspective or beliefs, and they embrace those differences, whether they agree or not.  It usually does not change the way they treat you.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and thoughts.  They understand that one persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs do not hold more value than another persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs.

What matters most to them is to keep their own self-image intact. They do not react out of spite or to prove a point, but they stand by their own values just as others do as well.  They respect others rules, beliefs and values, but they will not subject themselves to partake in those if it makes them uncomfortable in any way.

An example of this:  If one had a friend that was anti-gay marriage, would you invite a friend who you knew was pro-gay marriage to attend an anti-gay marriage rally?  If you did invite that pro-gay friend to such an event, would you be upset that they declined?  I doubt it, because you should have known better.  Everyone is entitled to their own values, but you should never expect others to change their own values, even if you feel your values are better in some way.

You can respect and value another person and their values without having to sacrifice your own by conforming.  The fact that you can still be a friend to someone with viewpoints or beliefs on the opposite spectrum is proof of this.

Being so mutable and accepting of the human race and all their flaws, difference of values, and being open-minded can create problems though, because others may expect them to conform. This is because they are so adaptable and accommodating. Boundaries can easily become crossed.

This type of person is told to be political about things. That is peculiar because aren’t politicians generally thought of in a negative light for being dishonest and selfish?  That seems to be the consensus I have seen in regards to many politicians lately, yet that is not to say that all feel this way.

The bottom line is though, that sometimes the most misunderstood people are actually some of the most caring and kind people, if people would actually take the time to get to know them.  And sometimes, those that seem to be the most wonderful people can actually turn out to be just the opposite deep down.

I feel like people avoid getting close to those who wear their heart on their sleeve because it makes them uncomfortable.  No one likes to be put on the spot.  People fear judgement, even if they judge others themselves.  Many are more comfortable living an existence full of relationships that are only “surface relationships”.  Many don’t care to have deeper, more meaningful relationships because it scares them.  Exposing yourself can make you feel vulnerable, and most shy away from that.

What I want to say to those of you that do live life with your heart on your sleeve is, please don’t change.  Do not let others put you down.  Do not allow them to change who you are.  Don’t allow them to take advantage of your adaptability and open-mindedness and definitely don’t allow anyone to take away from who you are in any way.

Please don’t allow the judgements or the decisions of others taint you in any negative way either.  For example, if you feel someone is negative all the time because they are always coming to you with their problems, you are only tainting your own spirit with negativity by shunning this person instead of trying to help them by being there for them.  As long as this person is not harming you in any way and has good intentions, they deserve your help.  If you cannot help, they at least deserve an open ear.

It just seems to me, that it is very selfish to expect that everyone around you should be pleasant and in a great mood all the time.  It is absurd to expect that the world should revolve around you as well.  Realize that there are always going to be things that others don’t favor in you as well, yet they tolerate it and they treat you no differently.

I do believe that there is a time and place for such discussions.  If you are having a bad day, particular social settings may not be favorable for sharing your feelings or expressing your anger over a particular issue or problem.  It is always a good idea to be mindful of others in that aspect, even if you mean no harm.  At times, you must learn that you must put on a pleasant face for others and that should not be considered being fake because you are doing it for those people.

You can pull someone aside individually if you really need to speak up or answer honestly that you just aren’t having the best day and state that you don’t mean to offend.

The point of all this is though, that you can wear your heart on your sleeve, if that’s who you are, but realize that not everyone will like the color of your shirt. It is a great quality to have, especially once you have learned to balance this quality and apply it with that knowledge.  Although you may have a heart of gold, some will only pay attention to the color of the shirt you wore that day.

 

The Jack-in-the-Box

JackintheboxI wonder, at times, if one ever gets to the point of feeling as though they have been around forever.

To me, it feels as if I’m always astonished at how fast each year has gone by. Like one day I am making plans and setting goals for the new year and the next, I’m spending the day after Christmas getting rid of all the mess that Christmas left behind.

The bows, the empty boxes, the bits of wrapping paper, and the crumbs of edible goodies that were satisfactorily enjoyed by all.

The remains of celebration, family togetherness, and joy. The untainted, pure delight of happy children, wide-eyed with smiles that hold more truth than most things this world contains. The evidence of an event we had all been looking forward to all year.

Assembling new toys for the kids and struggling to find or create space for them; Space that is only imaginary now. Space that once seemed infinite. When the place was empty, before love and family moved in and filled every nook and cranny with the evidence of our existence.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when the days just seem to slow down. A day when I’ll feel like everything is done; Like all is well and my job is complete…if even for a single day.

Routine is just that, routine…but they say change is constant. Perhaps the only thing that really changes is the face staring back at you when you look in the mirror. The children that once were so small you could cradle them in one arm, who will eventually outgrow you. The loved ones that pass, leaving an aching void in your heart and home that can never be filled.

At times, I imagine myself in this box. There is this giant hand that I can see from the window as it winds a handle on the side of that box. It grips the handle tight, winding until the handle clicks, which causes all the commotion and growth in that box. When this giant winds it up, we move around in that box.

I wake up and make breakfast for the kids. I clean up. I entertain and we continue to do as we do until the box handle stops. We go to bed and rest up for our next day of motion and life, when the box handle winds up to a click again.

Sometimes I am able to pop out of this box. Things aren’t so predictable then because it’s always random; It’s always a surprise.

I explore the world outside of the box. I meet new people, make new friends, catch up with old friends, and exhaust myself, in every way possible, as much as possible. Then it ends. The giant hand pushes down on me, and down into the box I go, until the next time I spontaneously rise to the surface again.

Eventually, after days and days of living this existence in this box, the box itself, becomes worn. We are worn and ragged inside as well.

I wonder, at times, if the days will seem to slow then. When the vibrancy of life and love has subdued with age and loss. The loss of youth, of children who have grown and gone, and the loss of those we loved the most.

Is it then, and only then, that I will feel like all is well and my job is complete? Perhaps, it is only time that will tell.

The Silence & Time

The Silence & TimeSometimes I feel like the room is spinning.  The noise of my daughter’s Littlest Pet Shop YouTube videos playing on the TV, the sound of Baby Genius songs blaring from the Laptop, Ryan singing Christmas songs using the wrong words to amuse the kids, and himself…and me, with a million things on my mind, in the midst of it all.

Every five minutes, my daughter asks me for something and every 10 minutes my son latches on to my leg, desperately screaming for me to pick him up. He grabs for my hand to lead me upstairs to let him play with water in the bathroom sink.

Every morning, after the kids are fed I clean up the mess from the night before.  The dishes from dinner and breakfast, the toys scattered across the floor.  Clothes from the six outfits my daughter had tried on the previous day to wear for an hour, that later ended up in some room, on some floor.  Crayons and markers with caps missing, dried up and useless from being left out all night.

The shoes.  So many shoes.  Shoes in every room, in closets, under beds, behind couches and chairs and on the stairs.  Eight feet reside in this house and we have enough shoes to supply a small village.  We trip over them and get angry.  Then we continue walking, leaving them behind to trip over them again and again.

Where are the socks?  I have no idea.

Strange pieces of what could have possibly once been a bagel or toast on my daughters movie shelf; Only discovered when my baby boy walked up munching on it.  Random bits of noodle stuck to his leg. The case of the missing sugar cookie solved when he is found in a corner, silently chewing up his sugary discovery.

I’m beginning to think he knows what he’s doing.  That he stored those treats away, like a squirrel stashes nuts away for winter.  Where did those things come from?

My 7 minute showers interrupted by little hands with even smaller fingers, poking through the crack under the bathroom door.  Little fists against wood… pounding, pounding, pounding until my 5-year-old decides to open the bathroom door and they both come crashing in excitedly, trying to push each other aside to get ahead of the other.

They pull the shower curtain open and start undressing to join me.  Eyes filled with joy with only the prospect of a shower or bath with mommy;  Exuding the same level of excitement they would attain from chasing after an ice cream truck on a hot, summer day.

I hurry to finish, wrap up in a towel, turn the shower into a bath and let them bathe…as I sit on the toilet with the seat covered to supervise; Dripping wet and cold, with only the thought of how I almost made it through an entire shower without them this time.  I decide every time that the next time I’ll be quicker.

The trips to the store.  Ashley dancing through the isles, eager to find something she can ask for when she promised she wouldn’t.  Jackson standing up in the cart every chance he gets, wondering why he can’t wander around to walk just as his big sister does.  Strangers who are shopping, stopping to look at things with their carts left in the center of the isles and their bodies blocking the spaces next to it.  It’s a very dis-pleasurable experience, grocery shopping.

Sometimes we get a chance to be alone.  I shut things off when no one else is home.  It gets so quiet in here that I don’t know what to do with myself.

Ryan sits with his notebook and writes lists and lists of things down.  His notebook, which is one of a thousand.  Stacks and stacks of Ryan’s notebooks, in closets, on shelves, on the floor by chairs and beds, and in the car.  Notebooks, notebooks and notebooks… everywhere.

Where are the pens?  I have no idea.

The silence.  Then and only then, it makes me ache for the noise of the children screaming.  It beckons me to wish for sounds of the kids playing, or to hear them laughing.

The time.  The time then, leaves me lost with feelings of no direction.  No child asking me for something.  No tug-of-war over a toy to break up.  No one to take care of.

When they are gone, only silence and time is left behind.  Silence we choose to not fill, and time we don’t use effectively.  Instead we just are…as if we have no other purpose.

Behind the Camera

Image

Alright, here we go. Here I am! For those of you who may be thinking, whoa!? Why is this woman posting this collage of herself? Is she starved for attention? Is she full of herself?

Well, the answer is no and no. I am critical of myself just like all of you other ladies. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my faults.  The reflection of the person looking back at me, is likely not the same person others see when they look at me.

The fact is, I’m just sick of being the woman behind the camera.  The one who never appears to have been part of any memorable moments.

In 3 days I will officially be a year older, and I have come to realize some things this year in terms of aging.  You see, I’m a mother of two youthful, beautiful children.  They have changed my perspective on life in a lot of ways.

I have so many friends who are so critical of their looks that it saddens me.  When I look at them, I don’t see what they see.  I think they are still youthful and beautiful.  They don’t like having their picture taken because they feel too fat, or too ugly.

I see all these comments in social media sites like Facebook where people (mainly women) are putting down those who post pics of themselves on their page.  We identity these pics as “selfies” and that term has been associated with negativity.

Come on ladies!  I realize there are, in fact, those people out there who need that sort of attention and validation from others, but there are those that do not as well.  If a 500 LB woman posted pictures of herself similar to the ones I have posted above, what would you think?  My guess is that we would be happy that she is confident enough to do that.  It’s funny how our thoughts can change based one particular persons appearance.

I know many people saw the article posted in the Huffington Post (because the post circulated around Facebook) about a mom who decided, that despite her self-image insecurities, that she would make a point to include herself in photographs for the sake of her kids.  There was someone on Facebook recently who had a relative pass away.  When they were going through her photographs looking for ones of her for the funeral showing, they couldn’t find any.

 

It is clear that many women avoid pictures because of insecurities regarding their self-image.  It is clear that many women avoid posting pictures of themselves on social media websites because they don’t want to be “that girl”- the one who is narcissistic because she posted a “selfie”.

One thing I have come realize over the years is that there aren’t a whole lot of men who run around ready to snap photos and capture moments worth remembering.  I noticed when looking through my daughters old photos that I was not in many of them.  Even now, I have so many pictures of my daughter and my baby boy and I’m running out of memory on all my gadgets.

My point is that I am the photographer in my world.  I’m the one who thinks to whip out the camera or the phone to capture moments.  That’s why I haven’t been in many of those pictures.  I was always the person behind the camera.  So, unless you want to start harassing the man in your life to start taking pictures of you, the kids, or you and the kids together, you are going to have to continue taking them yourself.

This is why I have decided that I won’t be afraid anymore.  I won’t be that person who lives in fear of those who will think negatively about me for having posted a picture of myself on a social media site.  I won’t be ashamed because there’s nothing wrong with it.  Even having posted the pictures above really makes me nervous, but in reality…why should I be?

It’s just me.  I’m fully clothed and those photos are head-shots and there is nothing risqué about them.  Some day, I imagine that my children are going to collect all the photographs of me to keep for themselves.  I want to make sure they have plenty to remember me by.

Sure, right now it’s easy to notice every little thing wrong with the way we look, but some day we may wish we could turn back the clock.  Someday, when I’m old and gray…I hope to look at those pictures of myself and remember how youthful and lively I was.  And, when I’m older, my hair has turned gray, and my skin has wrinkled, I doubt these pictures will make me think about how horrible I looked when I was in my thirties.

 

 

 

DIY Holiday Wreaths

DIY Wreath

Christmas will be here before we know it.  In about two weeks, we’ll be gathering with family to celebrate.  I have almost completed my gift shopping, but there are a few DIY projects I have yet to complete.

For the past few weeks, I have been working on some extra-special gifts, hand-crafted by yours truly to add to what I am already giving some of my family members. Among a few other things (of which I cannot reveal just yet), I have completed my Holiday Wreath project.

Let me just tell you that this has been really fun, but most importantly, very simple! I’m not going to go through the step-by-step instructions with you.  There are plenty of blogs and websites that do that already.  If you need to see it for yourself, below is a video showing you exactly how to make a curly paper wreath.

What I found that was so great about these DIY curly paper wreaths is that the possibilities are endless.  You can make these things look however you want and each one actually does look completely different from the next one.  All you have to do is select different color schemes and different prints, decide which will look best together and there you have it…something unique, and something hand-crafted by you (which, I think, makes it extra-special!).

Take a look at the wreaths I have made.  I worked on this over the course of a couple of weeks in my free-time (which is limited because I have two small children).  I will say though, that if you have the time to work on one with no interruptions, you could finish in less than two hours I should think…and even watch a movie while doing it.

So, if you have a person, or two you have had trouble buying for, you still have time to make them a great holiday wreath.  Here is a tip though, the tutorial will tell you that you must have double-sided decorative paper.  While I understand that it makes sense to have it since the paper is curled which means you’ll see both sides of it throughout, I don’t feel it’s completely necessary.  I looked at two different craft stores and that paper is hard to find.

For all five of my wreaths I used one-sided decorative paper and they look just as lovely.  If you decide to give this project a try, have fun! I’m sure it will look great.  Happy Holiday crafting!

 

10 Things My Children Have Taught Me

  1. 10 Things my Children have taught me  That these three, 4-letter words:  Love, Hope, & Fear mean more than you ever realized prior to having children.
  2. That we, as adults complicate the simplest of ideas or processes.  Children teach you how simple things can be.  For example, my daughter says quitting smoking should be easy.  She tells my parents that all they have to do to quit is to stop buying them and stop smoking them.  You can’t really argue with that, huh?
  3. That even when placed in an empty, padded room, I can assure you that they will still manage to find a way to get hurt.
  4. They can manage to break, disappear, squeeze through something, spill or color on something in the time it takes you to reach down to pick something up.  You have to keep a constant eye on them.  I have even been working on blinking one eye at a time to reduce the amount of “accidents” that happen.
  5. They will have to urinate or have a bowel movement the second you pull that soiled diaper off them.  It will either get on you, your floor, or in the fresh diaper you just put them in.
  6. That you are not allowed to relax, do anything for yourself, eat anything by yourself, without involving them in some way or being asked for something.
  7. They will always love you.  Even when you tell them no or tell them they are wrong.
  8. You will always love them.  Even when they tell you no or tell you that you are wrong.
  9. That life is full of ideas and concepts even you have never thought of, or had long forgotten.  Children open your eyes and mind to a world you have forgotten; The world through the eyes of a child.
  10. That you are stronger, more patient, more understanding, more selfless, and more loving than you think you are.

Of course, there is so much more that my children have taught me.  I couldn’t possibly list everything and as time progresses and they grow, I am learning new things every day.

We often times focus on everything we need to teach our children and don’t even realize all the things having children has taught us.  Making a list such as this one can really help put things into perspective, and can add a little humor to parenthood as well.

What have you learned from your children?  What has being a parent taught you?

10 Reasons a Holiday Birthday Stinks

Holiday Birthday

Let’s start by saying that I was born 5 days before Christmas.  Sorry to my mother who spent Christmas in the hospital due to a cesarean and an infection after surgery, but I think it’s safe to say that I was still a great Christmas gift!

I understand that since I’m in my 30’s now, birthday celebrations may seem pretty irrelevant, but that hasn’t always been the case.  As a kid, I remember waiting for people to show up for my birthday parties excitedly, only to receive a turnout of none to one or two guests.  It was a bummer, to say the least.  At least I had a lot of siblings with birthday hats on and whistle blowers to celebrate with.  Thanks guys!  I know you had no choice because we lived together, but we still had fun.

Even though I’m now in my 30’s, there are still times where I think about arranging an outing with friends and family to celebrate, but decide against it because it ends up being too complicated.  Many people still have to work the days before Christmas Eve and those that don’t and live out-of-town are already planning on making the trip out for Christmas and do not want to have to come early and stay for nearly a week for that.

Anyways, I have compiled a list of the Top Ten Reasons having a birthday during this Holiday season stinks.  Here we go:

  1. You can’t compete with the birth of Jesus Christ
  2. If you live in the Midwest, there are usually winter storms that prevent people from going out for such a celebration
  3. People are broke from Christmas shopping
  4. You get gifts that serve as both your birthday gift and Christmas gift, all-in-one
  5. You get Christmas cards in the mail that say Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday too
  6. No one shows up to your parties (because of being broke, planning on Christmas travel, or there is bad weather)
  7. If you do get a birthday cake, it has a Christmas Theme
  8. People sometimes forget about your birthday because of the focus on Christmas
  9. Winter in the Midwest brings frigid temps and illness, so you often times end up sick on your birthday
  10. When you do plan a birthday outing, you feel like it’s a burden or nuisance for others

Well, there you have it.  These are the Top 10 reasons I feel that having a birthday around the Holiday season stinks.  Although birthdays can become something of little relevance as one ages, it should still be a cause for some type of celebration; Even if it’s something small, like having breakfast made for you that morning.

After all, at any age the mere fact that you were born and have made it through another year of life is a great reason to celebrate for anyone!  Happy Birthday to all those who are December or January babies! I hope those closest to you make an effort to make it special in some way, whether you’re turning 7, 30, 60, or 93 this year.  Money does not have to regulate every celebration.  Remember that the smallest things can account for a lot too!

 

 

Reflection of This Year

I have been trying to look to days passed as this year nears its end.  I want to take the time remember all that has happened this year.  At times, this can be a tedious task; like thumbing through file after file in a room as big as a warehouse, filled with boxes that are not labeled.  Which ones contain the memories of this year?

Time seems to disorganize such things as we get older and busier, especially if one has children.  Children, and their super-charged growth, superhuman reserves of energy, and infinite curiosity.  This is all I remember, for the most part.

Questions asked and answered.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners made.  Cupcakes baked, birthday’s celebrated, gifts bought and opened in delight.  Little, soft bodies bathed.  Hair combed, brushed and braided.  Bottoms powdered and diapered.  Little bodies clothed.  Lullabies sang, children slumbered, keystrokes, alarm clocks, sunrises and sunsets.

Dishes washed, carpets vacuumed, toilets scrubbed, floors mopped, clothes freshly laundered and put away.  Seasons came and went.

Winter snow for making snowmen.  Spring-time planting of purple mums.  Summer fun in the backyard sprinklers and barbeques were always fun.  Fall came, leaves covered the grass.  My daughter and niece buried in piles of orange, red, green and brown vegetation, laughing as the sun set.  Temperature has grown colder, we tell the kids to stay inside.

Holidays celebrated and family time.  Stories told with laughter.  Arguments over silly things, the stress of daily hassles.  Friends who called for advice, or just to simply think out loud.  Loyalty and freedom, choices that were made.  Bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes, a whole lot of Bandaids.

This year has brought so many things, I’ll never see again.  A baby boy who learned to walk, a little girl who made her first best friend.  My heart is filled with love, and teary eyed I get.  To think of the days past this year; Ones I hope to never forget.

Take time to reflect on the things, that have happened throughout the year.  Remember the big events as well as the small.  You will never have quite the same year again.