14. Searching for Purpose

 

The family emergency event was taken care of and life settled into a routine. I went about my day, went to work, helped out at home, attended church, and spent time with friends. It was far from boring. But it felt so ordinary and bland. It wasn’t anything important. I wanted to make my days count for something significant. There was a desire to do something that made a difference. I longed for something more.

 

The extreme situations I’d experienced had somehow set a bar. The typical lifestyle that surrounded me just wasn’t enough. People I grew up around lived a predictable life. They didn’t seem passionate or highly motivated about anything. I was acutely aware how short life really was, and it felt like I was wasting it. Shouldn’t there be a purpose besides just getting through life?

 

Of course, living with family and helping them out was one of the purposes. I knew I couldn’t stay there forever; I would need another purpose. Church didn’t offer much, either. The youth attended church because that’s what was expected; yet nothing of significant value was taught or implemented. It appeared that life existed for chasing one enjoyable thing after another. Watch an entertaining movie. Order a special coffee drink when going for a walk. Explore a new trail. All that was fun, indeed, but it lacked anything meaningful. I longed for something unusual in my life. Whatever it may be.

 

And miraculously, I stumbled right into it. Aunt Nancy and Uncle Stephen, who resided a few hours away, had kids who were part of a youth group of extraordinary purpose. That group was planning a mission trip to a poor, remote part of Mexico. They had been preparing themselves for months by learning songs in Spanish, having regular prayer meetings, and holding fundraisers for the trip. This was exactly the inspiration I needed!

 

Very shortly after, I made the transition to live at my cousin’s house. It was too late for me to join the group going to Mexico, but it didn’t matter. I attended every meeting they had, helped out at the fundraisers, and began learning the songs.

 

It was such a refreshing feeling to be surrounded by young people who had a sense of purpose. A purpose greater than themselves. Their energy revitalized me. They were on a mission to help. They were going to make a difference. There was this incredible energy with this group of young people who were doing something for a greater good.

 

However, it consisted of a lot of work: purchasing food and household items in bulk to separate them into individual packages, arriving early to prepare meals and desserts to sell at the fundraiser, and remaining late to clean everything up. After that, all the money had to be counted and all the coins had to be rolled up into coin rolls to be taken to the bank. I had never seen such an enthusiastic, unique approach to life. Of course, this youth certainly spent time together trying various coffee drinks and exploring new trails, yet it was a completely different experience. Their daily routine had meaning.

 

Meanwhile, my job search began. I had enough money in my account to last me a few months, for things such as my phone bill, car payment, and extra spending money. But after filling out dozens of applications without any callbacks whatsoever, I began to get worried. This was not good. I never had trouble with getting jobs before.

 

One month went by. Nothing.

 

I expanded my search to temporary job agencies. Towards the end of the second month, I had an interview. Being quite desperate for the job, I arrived an hour early. It seemed more worthwhile to drive around and explore the area. I drove out of the parking lot in my white Honda Civic and thought about how fantastic this job would be. My car had been taken out on a loan, and it was my first major purchase, something I was proud of, but it surely wouldn’t get me anywhere if I couldn’t pay for it. My financial situation was not great. So lost in thought I became, that I also lost track of time. Tires squealing, I popped an illegal U-turn and raced back as quickly as I dared, eyes peeled for any signs of police cars.

 

I pulled in and parked abruptly. Sweating profusely, I used the deodorant stashed in my bag and avoided looking at the clock. Hopefully my car clock was a few minutes early. Or rather, many minutes early. It wasn’t.

 

I didn’t get the job.

 

My hands were bruised from smacking the steering wheel on the drive home. How could I? Argh! I decided to try one more week of regular job applications and then would begin applying at fast food places.

 

Praise the Lord, another interview was set up for me almost immediately, and I got hired on as a customer service representative in a household appliance shop. It certainly was not a glamorous job, as I had hoped for when originally filling out all my applications, but it sure beat working in a fast food joint. But, as ironic as life can be at times, another opportunity became available just one week later: somebody from the Mexico group had cancelled and that spot was available, if I was still interested.

 

Of course I was interested! Everything I had been helping out with would be even more significant if I went on the actual trip! People had booked their spot half a year in advance, and I stopped asking when I learned there were no spots available. The only minor little inconvenience with this opportunity was that the group was leaving in two days. What were my chances? It was a shot in a million but only one way to find out. My supervisor was most definitely not impressed with my inquiry.

 

She looked at me with obvious annoyance. “You do realize you just began working here a week ago, don’t you? Even though I’m extremely supportive of mission trips, the timing is just not going to work. I’m sorry.”

 

What did I expect? That she would let me go? I gave her a short nod and dragged my feet out of her office, while my brain scrambled frantically for another solution. I waited until my lunch break and called Uncle Stephen.

 

He sounded surprised, probably because I was calling during working hours, but most likely because I’ve never called him before. “Hello? Is everything OK?”

 

“Hi, Uncle Stephen, yes, it’s fine; I just have an enormous problem. I really don’t know what to do. I need some help. Do you have a minute?” Before he could say yes or no, I rambled on. “You know how I’ve been so excited about the church mission trip? I really wanted to go but couldn’t but now somebody cancelled and that spot is offered to me and I have just enough money left to pay for that spot. But I also needed a job for so long and finally I got one, but they aren’t letting me take a week off to go on this mission trip. What should I do?” My heart was thumping furiously as I paused for a breath.

 

There was a gap of a few seconds on the line. Then Uncle Stephen said, “Now, I can’t tell you what to do.”

 

What? That’s what I needed right now! I desperately needed somebody to tell me exactly what to do, because I didn’t know! That’s precisely why I had called him in the first place!

 

He went on. “You have to make this decision yourself; it’s your life.” He spoke thoughtfully, selecting each word carefully. “I have a question for you: how often does an opportunity such as a mission trip occur?”

 

I closed my eyes to focus on the question. My foot was tapping rapidly against the cement ground. I was sure that organizations supporting mission trips existed, not that I knew of any off the top of my head. “Well, I ‘ve never had that opportunity, but it finally presented itself. To me this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

 

“Alright. Next question: how often do opportunities for employment occur?”

 

That was easy. “All the time, just depends what kind of a job.”

 

“Yes,” agreed Uncle Stephen. “Certain opportunities exist less often, and others more often. Make your decision based on that.” And that was the end of the conversation. It was the greatest advice I’d received in a long time.

 

I was too chicken to quit in person, so I called it in that evening. Then I began packing for Mexico.

 

This trip was a critical factor in helping me begin the journey of discovering who I was as a child of God and what exactly my purpose was on this earth.

2. Valerian Root

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My dad didn’t take his test results well. He came home, stretched out on our blue couch in the living room, covered himself with a thin blanket, folded his arms, and waited to die. He had the latest stage of cancer so thoroughly spread out, that even the doctor was surprised how dad was still alive at this point. The prognosis – one month of life left.

 

Two years prior to this, my dad got a job, which required a health checkup. On that exam, a few little spots were discovered on his lungs, and a biopsy had been recommended. It was of concern because we had lived in Ukraine, where a few years prior the Chernobyl disaster had occurred. But my dad, he was a man. Macho man. Superhero. He wasn’t feeling pain anywhere, so why in the world should he get a biopsy done? If it were truly something serious, he would be feeling pain, and that would justify getting the biopsy. Well now it was too late. The cancer had spread; there was zero hope of any kind of treatment helping. In fact, it had spread to a part of his brain, which was causing the seizures.

 

The second time he had a seizure was no less scary than the first. He fell to the floor, and half of his body was jerking and trembling uncontrollably. Again, I made a familiar phone call, the ambulance arrived, and off we went to the hospital. We were informed that as the cancer grows, more seizures would take place. And they did. I began to dread waking up, not knowing if that would be a day where another seizure would happen.

 

My dad was a very disciplined, brilliant man. Immigrating into the United States of America at the age of 34, he immersed himself in all the English language programs and books he could possibly find. Within a year he was the designated translator/interpreter in our social circle. That year I went into first grade and learned the language there. We would have a competition of who knew more English words.

 

“Dad, I have a new one today!”

 

“What is it? I learned many words today too, I bet I already know it.”

 

“Nope! What’s hotdog?”

 

That was the one word that stumped him, because literally hot and dog are two words, which made no sense combined, and hotdog was a food item that I saw in the cafeteria that day. It felt so good to outsmart my dad.

 

Each morning before the school bus picked me up, dad would give me a Russian language book, from which I needed to read, and if I was done quickly, to spend the remainder of the time practicing Russian handwriting. He always ordered books from a book company, and sometimes he would let me browse through the catalog to choose a children’s book too. These were days before we had the computer or Internet or iPhones, so our free time was spent playing tag, riding bikes, or reading books.

 

One day somebody recommended a natural cancer treatment book to my dad. This did wonders for my dad’s attitude; it was as if he got another shot at life. The next day a juicing machine appeared in our kitchen, followed by bags of vegetables. I remember chopping up beets, celery, other greens, and carrots. My siblings and I took turns making juices; we would sneak a few sips, especially carrot juice. My dad began juicing furiously, hoping to cure the cancer. He ordered a giant box of special herbs from another country.

 

I baked some rolls for him, his favorite, ones that were labeled “Daddy’s Buns” in the recipe book. Each buttered bun had one raisin at the top for decoration. This was a recipe I had perfected because dad encouraged me. He supported most of my little projects. Sometimes I felt that since I was the oldest, I was his favorite. Once I wanted to bake bread, so I called my aunt, got the recipe, and had the ingredients purchased. I had no idea what dough was supposed to look like, and my mom was busy tending to the young babies, so it was completely up to me. The first water/yeast batch didn’t rise, so I just mixed it in with the remaining ingredients and got a lumpy sticky batter. The “dough” needed to rise, so I poured the batter into five bread loaf pans and stuck them in the oven while I went to school. Hopeful that the batter would rise since it had more hours in the oven, I was disappointed to find the same lumpy batter at the same level in each loaf pan. They baked for hours. Finally they seemed to be fully cooked. The final result was a brick bread that looked identical to an actual brick. I tried it; it was disgusting.

 

My dad sawed off a corner, tasted it, and said, “Delicious!” and ate a few more bites. I was very sad the bread didn’t turn out and was ready to toss the loaves into the trash.

 

“Nonsense! Bring me some foil, I’ll wrap up the remaining loaves to put in the freezer and I’ll eat them later while I eat this one up!” His encouragement kept me going, and I eventually learned there were cooking books in the school library that I could check out and keep experimenting. Yet these Daddy’s Buns he wouldn’t touch because of the strict juicing requirements.

 

People began visiting us, praying for us. The seizures continued. I stopped going to school. My mom had to deliver the baby, who was the 10th child into our family, so one of the relatives drove her to the hospital. My dad’s mother came to stay with us. She was a fantastic baker, yet a terrible cook. Her bland combination of water, noodles, potatoes and carrots, which she called soup, was appalling. It challenged me to do a cook-off, so the next pot had a flavorful soup like the one I’ve seen mom make. Grandma baked delicious kolach, yet she couldn’t tell me the recipe because everything was made “na glaz”, or by the eyeball method. Since I had more time, I followed her around and recorded how much of each ingredient went into the recipe.

 

By this point my dad received a hospital bed, which was situated in our living room. He had a steel walker and managed to hobble around that way. Then one day, a worker from Hospice Care arrived. She said she needed to talk to us about what we are doing, what are our plans after dad passes away, does he have a will, and so forth. I’m not sure why it was a shocker to me, probably because most of the people who visited us kept saying “we will pray for you” and “your dad will get healed”, and here was this woman saying these very morbid sentences. I got angry with her.

 

“No thank you! Our dad will get well! We are praying very hard, we believe in God, we believe he will get healed! So there!”

 

Not sure how effective my outburst was, because the woman kept talking, and saying phrases like “it’s hard” and “being in denial” and “comfort care” and eventually left a packet for us.

 

As my dad’s health deteriorated, he was moved to a nursing home where he could receive 24/7 care.

 

Some elders from churches came and urged us to pray more intensely. They had several suggestions and questions.

 

“Perhaps this is God punishing you? Were you very disobedient to your parents? Or you’re not praying enough? You don’t have enough faith?”

 

In horror I recalled all the times I disobeyed my parents. For some reason I was the troublemaker; I would talk back, I would tell jokes and make my siblings laugh in church, or I didn’t pay attention during a sermon. But I thought I was fine, since I’d already served my punishment by either getting the “switch” (tree branch whipping) or standing an hour or two in a paper-bag in my time-out corner. I must’ve been born naughty. When I was even younger, I got the stinging nettle punishment. When I disobeyed, dad would get a stinging nettle plant and glide it over my leg until it was completely covered in a most unpleasant burning, itching sensation. And here I was, disobedient and naughty to such a degree that God was punishing me by making my dad have cancer.

 

“Or perhaps there are some hidden sins he needs to confess?”

 

I listened to the uncomfortable dialogue of people attempting to find all the faults in my dad’s life. He read a lot of books, too many books. Perhaps he was swayed by weird teachings? He ordered many books from a catalog, who took the orders? It was a woman? Did he spend too much time talking to her? Was something else going on? These concerns were brought to him. Anything remotely suspicious or less than ideal living was a factor he had to deal with: he made phone calls, apologized to anybody who might have ever gotten offended by him.

 

We took turns visiting dad in the nursing home. These visits were more tolerable because they didn’t include the sterile, antiseptic smell of hospitals that made me nauseated.

 

One such evening I opened the back door to welcome my mom from the nursing home. She had grandma with her.

 

“Um, mom? Why is grandma with you? She usually stays with dad.”

She didn’t meet my eyes.

 

“Um, mom?”

 

She looked at me. Then in a barely audible voice, she whispered, “They let dad go tonight.”

 

What kind of an answer was that? Did he get healed miraculously?

 

Mom! What do you mean?”

 

She opened the medicine cabinet, which was located right next to the door, and took out a round container of valerian root. She shook out a few capsules and handed them to me and put a few more in her mouth.

 

“Take these, they will calm the nerves.”

 

And then I knew what she meant.

 

1. Ambulance Ride

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I clasped my hands tighter and tried to keep myself from trembling as I sat between the two paramedics.

“Do you want to go really fast?” asked the driver. I nodded, not sure why he was asking me. “How about the sirens? Should we make them loud?” I nodded again. Why was he asking me that? He was the driver, those were his decisions to make, not mine.

The other paramedic asked me how old I was. “Twelve,” I answered.

“And you speak Russian?” I nodded.

“Your English is great! How long have you lived in America?” I shrugged. Why do they keep talking to me?

“That’s really neat! I wish I knew two languages! You know that you can be a professional interpreter? They make really good money! You’re the youngest interpreter I’ve ever met!” He sounded impressed, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

 

Out of the corner of my eye I could see cars flashing by as the ambulance raced to the hospital.

“Is…is my dad gonna be OK?” I asked quietly. My knuckles clenched harder than I thought possible.

“That’s why we’re taking him to the hospital. There are some very good doctors who will take a few tests to find out what’s going on.”

 

The emergency room was ready for my dad. A nurse was talking through each step that she took. I wasn’t paying too much attention because my dad had regained his consciousness and there was no need to interpret anything. He looked helpless and kept offering me a weak smile each time I looked at his face. I jerked with a start when the nurse mentioned drawing blood. That I could not handle, even if someone else was getting the procedure done. The ominous-looking needle, the outstretched arm, and the strong sanitized smell of the hospital was almost too much. Shifting my seat loudly, I turned my head and closed my eyes.

 

Earlier that evening, the whole family had been gathered in the living room for the daily devotional time. We usually sang a song or two and prayed. My favorite part was when each person got to choose a random number and my dad would read that verse if that number was available from the page of the Bible that he’d selected. The goal among the siblings was to choose a verse that wasn’t on the page so that another choice could be made. Most choices = winner.  It didn’t take much to entertain us. All of a sudden my dad yelped and grabbed his leg. “Help! My leg! Something’s happening!” and he fell with his back to the floor and stopped moving.

 

My mom lifted her third-trimester belly and shuffled over, calling his name, shaking him, trying to get him to wake up. All the kids froze, just momentarily, then chaos took over. Some began to wildly jump around, others cry, and since we were in prayer position, still others began praying really loudly. In absolute panic I sprinted to my parents’ room and grabbed the phone. It took several attempts before my fingers landed on the 3 digits correctly and the line began to ring.

 

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
One of the most dreadful feelings is when you need help, but you can’t request it. The words weren’t coming out of my mouth. It was like a bad dream.

 

“Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?”

 

“Ah! Ah! Help!” I croaked. It wasn’t easy trying to force words out and breath at the same time. “My dad. Help! Ah…Dying? Please help!”

 

God bless her heart; the operator told me to take a few deep breaths and began asking questions that I could answer with one or two words and the next thing I knew, she told me to go unlock the door because an ambulance had arrived and they needed to come inside. It wasn’t just an ambulance, there were police cars and fire trucks too. The commotion brought out all the curious neighbors. The medics tried to figure out what happened. I heard the word “seizure” a few times.

 

Since my mom’s English speaking skills were limited, I was the person to accompany my dad to the hospital.

 

I heard my dad call my name. I turned my head. His smile wasn’t fooling me for one second. “They’re done with the blood draw. Everything will be fine, you’ll see,” he said.

 

 

about New Year’s Resolutions

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Can we talk about them please? Every year for as long as I can remember, there was this big deal about making goals that we have to achieve.

Last year one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get more fit, like not just doing pushups at home, but actually to get a gym membership and have a nice good workout. My whole family did the gym tour, signed up the babies for kid’s club and we were set. Each time I came, the babies couldn’t handle being without me for too long, especially my very very very much attached newborn. So after like 3 attempts I gave up. The gym placed a freeze on the account (so they’re still making $$$ while I’m not there; clever monkeys!) and once I return, the freeze will be over.

Well, let’s quickly fast forward all the way to this year. It’s now 2017, January, and on top of it, the very last day of January. And I resumed last year’s “New Year’s Resolutions”! It really was a little spontaneous, to be honest. It had been at the corner of my mind, nagging me, especially since being more financially responsible was another one of my goals, and the gym kept making those automatic withdrawals without me being there. So this morning, as soon as that nagging thought arrived, I jumped into my sweatpants & hustled the kiddos into the Subaru and sped over to the gym before I could come up with an excuse. They removed the freeze and I dropped the kiddos in the newly remodeled kid’s club area. It was probably wise to set some low expectations, so I did. Only 15 minutes. And by golly, it was successful! In fact, the cycling machine showed 15:37 before I raced to pick up my babies. One of them didn’t want to leave, so I told her not to worry, we’ll be back again!

It’s such a fantastic feeling to be working on New Year’s Resolutions. Even if it’s from last year. Even if it’s for 15 minutes. Baby steps I tell ya.

By the way, another goal is to be writing regularly in the amount of at least 300 words. So hold me accountable, will you?

 

I want to be a supermom

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Get yourself a cup of tea and crackers because this is a long post. 😄

Everybody’s situation is unique yet everybody goes through similar and common seasons in life (hardships, trials, easier times, happy times, etc.)

During hard times sometimes the only thing that can help is seeing what the Ultimate Book says. It helps to read these following verses out loud, write them out and post them all over your house. And read them constantly.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christʼs power may rest on me. That is why, for Christʼs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When we rely on our own strength alone, we get terribly discouraged when we don’t rise up to our own expectations. When we admit we are weak and cannot deal the best way with _____ (insert whatever it is we are struggling with) then we are turning it over to God. “God, I cannot deal with my kids the way I should, I don’t have enough patience and I get angry and I’m frustrated. Please guide me and give me wisdom how to act.”

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

We won’t get answers overnight, or at least, not all of them at once. 😭 But it will happen!

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Re-evaluate your expectations of yourself and your life. What is the end result you’re trying to achieve? Write it down. What steps do you need to take to achieve that? What things do you need to eliminate out of life to have TIME to do the steps that help reach your goal? 📱🤳🏻📺🍹🛍🗑 (Personal example – I want to be raising kids after God’s heart & having them behave appropriately. This means I need to get some knowledge about what God’s heart is like, and WHAT IS appropriate behavior & good manners. This means I need to read the Bible (quality, not quantity) and ask God to reveal himself & his wisdom to me. This means I need to start spending more PURPOSEFUL time with kiddos. Showing them how to behave in certain situations, etc. But since I spent so much time cleaning up messes, organizing, etc.- I needed to do a major decluttering project. Got rid of a bunch of toys, hid some more, put up purposeful things up to remind myself of my goals. Realized too much time was spent on social media which wastes time and sometimes has bad consequences where Comparison Monster shows up, so had to limit that. Voila! there’s a bit more free time to do what NEEDS to be done. {That’s just one part of my life, still many parts that I’m trying to figure out like meal planning, and being conscious of spending $, and how to do a quick manicure/pedicure at home that looks pro. So if anyone here has tips for that, I’m ALL EARS!})

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

If I declare I am a Christian and am filled with the Holy Spirit, it’s kind of a necessity to go about life showing those fruits. The Message explains it like this: “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

“Fathers (or mothers, in this case), don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Regarding fruits of the spirit, what things do I want to teach my kids from that? I have to model it. Ask how I can do _______ with kindness. Or patience. Or gentleness. And do it like that. Kids are observers like no other. Ellie was picking her nails and I told her “No! Don’t do that!” And she looks at me with a bewildered expression and ASKS (I kid you not), “but you can do it? You did it yesterday.” Ouch. Burn.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Personal convictions can be instilled strongly when they’re kids. When I was a kid my family was very conservative and more legalistic than not. One absolute no-no was females wearing pants, especially jeans. So get this, in the 6th grade I had enough nerve to do a public service and told a girl in my class that because she’s wearing jeans, she’s a boy, and she might go to hell for it. Can you believe it? Yeah, she freaked out, cried, told the teacher, I got in trouble, the end. Obviously the goal is to teach kids to grow up and mature and eventually think for themselves. They SHOULD question whatever boundaries were set on them, and whatever personal convictions were instilled into their hearts, and determine how and why, and what’s the benefit of it. It seems a lot of people don’t question the traditions they grew up with, and end up adopting it the point where they won’t even exercise their mind to extend the possibility that other options are acceptable. This encourages me to teach values that withstand the test of time.

Life can be hard and this toddler/ baby season is harder. I rely on God’s grace and try to remember to extend this grace to myself and to those around me. The picture is me feeling like a supermama, usually when both girls wake up and I carry them downstairs. That’s when I feel I can tackle the world. 😄

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Ephesians 5:22

Easier said than done. It’s not enough that we say we are renewed or born again, and no longer do evil deeds. We need to actively demonstrate the fruits of the spirit. Joy is particularly challenging or even impossible during tough parts of life, yet there it is. Listed right there. I think it helps knowing we are created for a greater purpose than just self-gratification here on earth. Sometimes when I’m tied down with the daily hassles of life, I forget to practice being joyful, and instead I act like Ms. Grumpypants. It’s a mindset that can be trained, and I’m still working on it 🙂

I love me so much

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Ha, the title is a trick! But really though, we all love ourselves so much! The best coffee for ME, time to MYSELF, MY opinion, MY feelings, MY emotions, MY way or the highway, MY agenda, whatever is convenient to ME, and so on. What else did I miss? So much focus on me everywhere we look. Buy the best toys and trinkets for ME. Don’t care about other people, do what YOU want. Are we perhaps giving ourselves too much room for ME?

Of course we sometimes go through low self esteem issues where we don’t really like ourselves.

Or do we?

Could it be that we like ourselves SO MUCH that we ALLOW ourselves this pity party, and this way get MORE attention to ourselves?

Think about it. Somebody who’s always talking about going on a diet: “Oh, I’m so fat! I can’t eat that! I need to lose weight; just looking at that cupcake is making me expand! Oh stop it, you know I’m fat. No, you’re the skinny one! Ugh, this fat! No, I’ll watch you eat that cupcake. I brought my own celery sticks, thank you.”

How many “I’s” in that one-sided conversation? How much attention did that person gain from this low esteem crisis? And it can be like that for any other area or topic: kids are being brats, boss is weird, family is crazy, health issue, difficult class, so much homework, such a stressful life, and so on and on and on. Are you with me?

The Bible verse I’m writing about is found in Philippians 2:4:

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Whoa.

Well that changes it a bit around. I probably shouldn’t drink those two coffees, but go with a friend so WE can chat and each have a coffee. Interesting.

Recently a quote came up in my feed that said something along these lines: if you’re sharing your problem to more than 3 people, you just want attention. Bam! That hit home.

But, wait! you say. Isn’t it healthy to share with people what you’re going through in your life? To get advice, or just to let it out? It’s so bad to keep it inside! I’ll get depressed! Or explode!

OF COURSE talk it out. Females particularly are (probably) wired to socialize and talk more than males, so we find comfort in speaking. Or in this social media age, in typing. 🙂 BUT. Of course there’s a but. Find a solution. Do something about it. Change something about what you’ve been doing. Maybe the attitude needs to be adjusted (that’s usually me). But don’t keep talking about it over and over and over and over again. Ask how somebody is doing? What is their life like? Dig deep. People are hurting. People are vulnerable. Instead of talking about your day, ask somebody what’s positive that’s happening in their life. Be happy with them about it. Buy them a coffee.

Ok, sometimes you DO need to do what’s best for YOU, but that’s a kind of a different topic and that’s not what I’m trying to say here. I’m trying to spend less time always looking out for my interests but to take an interest in others too. 🙂

I went to the grocery store

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I had to go to Fred Meyers yesterday to finish my grocery shopping for the week. It was for five items: milk, bananas, beets, onion, and tea. That is more than one item so of course I need to write it down somewhere. I scanned my kitchen for a spare piece of paper or a sticky note. Aha! My eyes stopped on a piece of junk mail sticking out from the recycle pile. It was like a student in school waving his hand, pick me! Pick me! Perfect. There was enough white space on the envelope to write my list. Milk, bananas, beets, onion, tea. I squeezed in the last word. Should have used a smaller sized font.

 

E jumped out of the car and raced towards the entrance. I strapped in Baby in the baby seat of the grocery cart. She was a very wiggly one, I’d rather not take any chances of her falling halfway out. We jogged past the floral department and of course had to screech to a stop because E had to smell at least two bouquets. Grocery stores have fairly decent sized aisles, so I absolutely take advantage of that and get some exercise for E and myself. We were whizzing by the canned food aisle and this time I stopped because I saw some kidney beans. I glanced at my list: milk, bananas, beets, onion, tea. Hmm. Why didn’t I write down beans? My plan was to make a vinegret salad, which required beets, which were on the list, and also beans, which weren’t on the list. Oh well. I told E which can to take, she took it from the shelf and hurled it into the cart. A customer walking through that aisle shot me a disapproving look. Oops, must have been too loud.

 

“E, next time put the items into the cart gently; don’t throw, ok?”
“OK Mama!”

 

We arrived at the fridge section, E got the milk out, but it was too heavy to put into the cart gently. She could actually take a swing and drop it like it’s hot into the cart, but, nah, not this time. I helped her. Then we walked up the aisle where the tea was. None of the options looked appealing. I wanted something new, but not too weird, maybe a usual flavor that I like but a different brand. Yeah that’s what it was. Maybe the organic section will have some interesting teas. We had slowed down to a normal pace in the baking section and I saw flour. All of a sudden I remembered that I needed flour to make vareniki. I had had some at a party and realized the next time I’ll have some won’t be anytime soon unless I make them myself. With potatoes. I checked my list. Darn! Flour wasn’t on the list. Oops. Into the cart it went. E was looking at some stuff across the aisle and as soon as some elderly gentleman was close enough to pass, she jumped in front of his cart over to my side. I received an annoyed look.

 

I enjoy grocery shopping immensely. I imagined most people did too, but recently I’ve started becoming aware of the fact that not everything I enjoy other people enjoy as well. Can you imagine that? What a hoot. Anyways, I chased E to the organic section and discovered a wide array of brands and flavors of tea. It was a fun challenge to narrow down teas by flavor, then price, then brand. It’s like a game every time I go grocery shopping. Which item is the best brand or quality, how much in each pack/bundle, and bonus points if it’s on sale. A few mint tea possibilities presented themselves, but then I saw a positive energy tea. Something citrusy, and organic, on sale, and did I mention ENERGY! The baby got the tea pack. Hopefully that’ll entertain her for a few minutes while I decide on another tea pack. Nope, the cart standing still was not her idea of fun. She flailed her arms and naturally everything she had dropped to the ground. A woman maneuvered her cart past us to look at some natural medicine. E began pulling some medicinal tea from the shelves and asking if I wanted any of those. OK time to move on. I shoved the cart forward with one hand, my other arm busy holding Baby, picked up the junk mail grocery list from the floor, tossed another tea pack in, pushed E’s medicine teas back into the shelves and we were rolling. Felt like a ninja for two seconds.

 

The next aisle had a beautiful assortment of organic trail mix. I was comparing the nutritional benefits of two bags, E was selecting cookies, Baby was crumpling up my grocery list, and then she sauntered up. Ms. Marathon Lady. Tall, tan, in her yellow and black sports outfit. Pursed lips, as if coming to the grocery store was the most inconvenient thing that happened to her all day. Wait, we were in her way, so this was an even bigger problem. She sort of paused and grunted a sound, so I told E to move closer to me to make way for her. Her long cellulite-free legs almost jumped past us. The way she looked at me was extremely discerning. I became acutely aware of my chipped toe nail polish, stain on my leggings, and pulled back shower hair. What in the world was that? Did she just give me the judg-y look? Ugh. Whatever, I’m wearing my nice new trench coat so I’m good.

 

We finally made it to the bananas. E noticed the bunch I took was too green and called me out for it. But I already had a bright yellow bunch in the cart, so I used that moment to teach her a valuable life lesson about planning ahead a few days in advance once the yellow bananas are out.

 

Milk, bananas, beets, onion, tea. As I walked around the vegetable stands to find red beets, I noticed Marathon Lady again. You can’t miss somebody that tall, they are quite noticeable in a crowd. Maybe it was her yellow jacket? Red beets were out. Should I go to another grocery store just for red beets? Maybe make this salad another time? Be adventurous and buy yellow beets? I felt adventurous.

 

Fred Meyer’s has a lot of check out stands. The shortest line was the one where Marathon Lady just walked up to. Yeah, I’m not going to succumb to her opinions. I chose the check out stand right next to hers. I could feel her looking through the TicTacs and gums. I felt sorry for her. I really hope she finds her marathons and organic food satisfying, because in spite of my slightly ruffled appearance I’m absolutely delighted with my life. E wanted to put everything on the belt so I took each item out of the cart and handed it to her and she proceeded to put it on the belt. It was a meticulous process to say the least. When I was about to pay she presented a green pack of M&M’s and very softly asked “Mama, please?” My goodness this child has figured me out. I told her I’ll use her quarters if she wants to buy it. She agreed.

 

On the 7 minute drive home, E clutched her M&M’s pack and said “Thank you, E, for buying M&M’s”. I unloaded the trunk, took everybody out of the car, closed the garage door, and realized I lost this grocery store game.

 

I forgot the onion.