#75 On Loving Villians

This isn’t so much a piece of advice, as it is something you (Karrigan) have taught me.

I love Disney movies. The vast array of lovable, hilarious, sometimes inappropriate, and often brutally honest characters that fill their movies leaves me intrigued every time. Karrigan, you love them too – but with a twist.

You, my sweet daughter, are in love with villains. Those of us who love you came to this realization slowly. It started with you quoting villains, singing their songs, and then continues with us having to repeatedly explain that you can’t act out the scene from The Lion King where Scar announces that he killed Mufasa while mock choking another child. Other parents don’t find that funny. For good reason.

You are the only child who watches the movie The Lorax and then proceeds to sing the 10 seconds of villain lines in the final song that go “Let it die, Let it die, Let it shrivel up and die…” in regards to a defenseless Truffula Tree  repeatedly or who sees Gaston parading around in chauvinistic glory and states enthusiastically, “I LIKE that guy!”

To say that this revelation left me a bit disturbed..is an understatement.

Then I began to study the villains in our movies. Some of them are downright hideous. They are sly, have self serving motives, and know how to raise a raucous. However, there is something else I noticed.

These characters are passionate. They are driven. They are focused. They are bold. They are perfectionists. They are emotional. They don’t change who they are because someone simply tells them they should. They are goal driven – and so my dear daughter..are you.

You have a passion that burns in you brighter than almost anyone I have ever met. You throw yourself fully into everything you do. Temper tantrums included.

Despite their off-kilter motives, their ruthless tactics, and their shenanigans..the villains you feel so drawn to have a lot of killer (pun intended) qualities. Things that I want my daughters to have. Skills that will push you ahead in life. Skills I’m proud that you can recognize in someone else, even when they aren’t designed to be the most lovable person in the world.

What I’ve learned is that you have an amazing ability to see past the bad (seeing past murder as in the case of Scar, might be a bit extreme) and into the good. To find the pieces of yourself that are hidden in others and to latch on to it.

You love the villains because you relate to their boldness, their extremes, their passion. Life will give you plenty of time to learn to hate them – and right now I’m just going to enjoy you sharing the love of some the brightest, show stealing characters in film.

Here is to the villains who have shown you what it means to passionately pursue a goal, to express emotions, and to live on the wild side.

(I would like to say that we both agree that Cruella D’Ville is plain crazy.)

Karrigan’s movie crush
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#71 It’s Not Always What We Say..It’s How We Say It.

Since you are my daughter (and also your father’s daughter for that matter) I’m sure we will have many discussions about HOW to say things the right way. “Yes Mom” with a smile means a little something different than “Yes Mom” with an eye roll and a sigh.

You need to realize that life isn’t all about what we say. I agree that you should certainly choose your words carefully. Foul language doesn’t sound good coming from anyone. Rumors, lies, and mocking words can make direct blows to your relationships. However, even saying something nice in the wrong tone can really limit the strength of the words you have chosen.

Times that you particularly need to be watchful of this effect are when you are feeling hurt, angry, and sometimes even sad. Yelling has a time and place. If I am about to do something life threatening without realizing it, I certainly want you to yell a warning to me. That is the point of yelling, to grab someone’s immediate attention–to make them hesitate. However if you go around yelling all the time, whenever you get upset, soon your yelling is not only less effective..all the words you say lose their meaning behind your noisy front. The same goes for whining, mumbling, and even talking really fast (which I often do). All of those tones and speeds we use when talk reflect on what we are saying. They all serve a purpose but you need to be choosy in how you use them.

Before you speak–especially in less than calm situations–I want you to hear in your head how your words are going to sound. Are you nervous? Take a deep breath so you can speak slowly and clearly and be understood. Are you angry? Not only is it important to not say words you will regret, its important to speak the ones you choose as clearly and directly as possible. Do you need something? Can you make the request without dragging out the end of your words in a whiney tone?

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#67 Don’t Ask A Question If You Aren’t Ready For The Answer

You aren’t four years old yet — but my experience with four year olds is that they ask a LOT of questions. You know what I like about them though? They ask all those questions and they truly want the real nitty gritty answer. It is often the parents or adults who feel awkward about the question asked, and skirt their way around answers when most four year olds I know could more than handle the truth. I wish I could say the same for adults.

Life is full of questions- tough questions at that. Where do babies come from? Where does my dog go when it dies? Am I proud of the person I am becoming? Why did I not get the job I applied for? Now that I have this job WHY did I apply for it? Does he love me? Do I love him? How are you? No REALLY how are you? Do I go to college? Where? Is it time to put mom in a nursing home? Will I be able to retire one day?

You get the point.

I’m making you a promise right now that as you begin to face life’s questions –simple and complex– I will always do my best to be honest with you. To give you the straight answer, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll help you find it. Please be prepared though, because I do not promise to give you the answer you would like, hope for, or desire to hear — if it would be telling you a lie. Don’t think you want an honest answer? Then don’t ask.

I want you to always inquire, to desire to know more about the world around you and yourself. However, the world doesn’t need any more people asking questions who don’t have a thick enough skin to handle the truth. I’m not saying that the answer to every question is something bad or grotesque or discouraging, I just want you to be prepared incase you find out something you weren’t expecting. Ask questions–learn–be pleased with the good and struggle your way through the bad. Just make sure that when you ask, you have your ears and heart ready for the answer.

#64 Be Thankful MORE Than One Day Per Year

It is Thanksgiving and wow do we have a lot to be thankful for this year! I love that our nation has a day that is designed to remind us to be thankful–for friends, family, and everything else we are so blessed with. With that in mind, I want to remind you to live every day thankfully. Be thankful you are alive, be thankful your parents love you, be thankful you aren’t an NFL referee–wait, I got distracted.

As Thanksgivings come and go I hope you will use them to reflect upon all the wonderful things in your life. I also hope that you will remember there are 364 other days in a year to give thanks for as well.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Here is a Thanksgiving throwback from last year..since I haven’t really taken any this year yet!

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#58 Accept That Life Is Messy

Life is messy…literally and figuratively. The sooner you accept the mess the sooner you learn to handle it. I don’t want you to live in a slob like state. Do your dishes, wash your clothes, tidy up your home for sure. However, you need to realize that sometimes in order to truly live you have to get a little messy.

Relationships don’t always make sense and fairy tale endings can happen but not usually in the wonderful linear method our story books tell us about. Jobs can be tense and school can be too! Things will happen that are outside of your control. Things that break your heart like the loss of a loved one, and things that vault you to new highs such as achieving a goal you have been striving towards for a very long time. If you spend all of your time trying to “tidy up” your life and control every element of it, you will be stressed and weary well before your years. I hope you learn at a young age that sometimes things happen, things that we don’t deserve, things that we can’t control–but we can control how we react to them. That’s the key. Accepting the mess and doing our best.

I love the age that you are at right now. When you make a mess, it is as if you are oblivious that the mess even exists. You simply alter what your doing to adapt to it..and any mess you can’t clean up or work around you just ignore. You have no anxiety or OCD regarding the messes you make and it makes you live and play without restraint. I hope you know how fabulous you are when you live without fear of the mess and how easy all the messes are to clean up, even if they take a little time.

Here you are painting at 15 months..you didn’t mind your hands looked like a priceless Picasso…and I would be lying if I said your stomach wasn’t painted to match 🙂

 

#56 Eat Dinner With The Family

Right now you eat dinner with us — largely because we strap you in your high chair and make you 🙂

However the time will come when you become increasingly busy. Sports practices, band recitals, friends whose mom’s make better dinners, will start to draw you away. I’m begging you now to please under every circumstance possible eat dinner with the family. Spend your days at school, your afternoon playing and doing what makes your heart sing, but spend an hour a day at the table with us.

Dinner together is more than just a chance to eat and refuel. It is an opportunity to talk, to catch up on the busy lives we often get caught up in running around leading. It’s a chance to vent, to argue, to laugh, and to spend at least one hour of your day with people who won’t always like you but I promise will always love you.

If you can promise to come to the table and eat–I can vow to keep attempting to make meals that don’t suck and turn off the TV long enough to listen to the sound of your chewing or hopefully the voice of your day. I’ll let you argue with your dad and maybe your future siblings, and ask for dessert even though you haven’t touched my attempt at a casserole. Sometimes I’ll even let you squeak out on dinner early if you will amuse me with a few minutes of your time–although it means you’ll have to stick around for dishes the next day.

Eat dinner with the family now, eat dinner with your family when you grow up…in a world of rushing here and there and everywhere you will be glad you did. Here you are eating leaves last fall…can’t believe how much you have grown since this picture..but I promise to never serve you leaves for dinner.

#51 You Don’t Have To Win Every Argument — Agree to Disagree

This is a lesson your mom is still working on. I can’t lie–I like to have the last word.

Truth of the matter is that you will never make everyone agree with you. Sometimes that can be frustrating and other times it can be beautiful. Sometimes someone who has a different view point than yourself can really open your eyes. Especially when as humans we tend to have tunnel vision at times–seeing only what we want to see.

One thing that has helped me with this piece of advice is you. Your dad and I definitely have different opinions on parenting at times–from what you should eat to what you should wear. Being able to disagree but still find a solution that has enough common ground for us both to be happy has helped you survive your first year of life! The gentle give and take of our parenting styles has worked to make you a pretty well rounded kid this far.

Also as a new parent everyone has advice for how best to do–well just about EVERYTHING! I quickly had to learn to take the advice with a smile and nod and not spend hours futilely defending my point. Being a parent has really made me realize that sometimes people just do things differently.  Not wrong, just different.

If you have my personality I’m sure you will find yourself fighting for the last word like I always do. I just hope you will know that sometimes its best just to agree to disagree.

However when it comes to Justin Bieber (Yes this may be a long running inside joke)..

This post is an elaboration on an article written by Regina Brett which inspired the start of this blog. You may read her article in full here.

#46 Be Open For Advice From Unexpected Places

Over the next 45 days (or there about) I am going to be elaborating on advice I wish I could say was entirely my own. However it is not. It is indeed the advice that inspired me to write this blog and it came to my work inbox almost 2 years ago now. It is advice from an article by Regina Brett from Cleaveland, Ohio. She once wrote in an article 45 pieces of advice. Following that advice has already started changing my life. Some of it was advice that I already followed, without really knowing I did. Other parts of it were new revelations to me that changed my thinking on many aspects of my life.

Over the next 45 days I will be elaborating on her advice. If I skip a piece of it–I will note that too along with the reason.

I want you to remember that advice comes from many sources. Your parents, your friends, your grandparents, the Bible, and from yourself. Be open to it. Sift through it. Apply some–and throw some (ok a lot) of it out.

Listen to the world and people around you. They will give you insight and guidance to making the most of your life.

One last thing, listen to children. I can’t wait to hear your insight and vision for life as you hit three and four. Children have given me some of the best perspective in life. Even when you are ninety — listen to children.

 

 

#43 Write Letters To People You Love

The art of the hand written letter is dying. I’ve been told they don’t even teach cursive in schools anymore. I remember spending a good chunk of third grade working the kinks out of my hands from writing fifty cursive z-s (I also walked up hill both ways to school..). People from earlier generations are probably scoffing at my complaining about third grade cursive when they wrote out entire research papers in neatly inked cursive.

Of course, you don’t have to write your letter in cursive..mom was just getting off topic.

What I want to emphasize is that letters are special. There is nothing better than getting a thoughtful loving letter in the mail after weeks (or months) of junk-mail and bills. In a world of text messages and e-mails, a handwritten letter says “I’m thinking of you”. It says that the writer took time to sit down away from the distraction of conference calls, Facebook notifications, and important blog reading to focus on the words I wanted to express to you.

I don’t tend to keep e-mails stashed away for future sentimental reading. What I can tell you is that I still have letters written to me my first year away from home at college or sent to me while I was at summer camp. Whenever I find those treasured letters that I’ve kept stashed away I can’t help but smile and feel that the world is an okay place.

I guess I’m just asking you to not let the art of the hand written letter fade away entirely. At least once a month think of someone you love–someone you miss–someone you haven’t seen in a while–someone you just want to share something with–and send them a letter. You can include a picture, a funny drawing, write about a memory, a new idea. Heck, most people would even be happy to get a letter talking about the beautiful weather that day.

I promise if you write letters to the ones you love–you will reap nothing but rewards from it in return.

PS–Don’t forget to write a letter to Santa too..


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