Tag Archives: life

The one where I’m unable to accept HELP.

My husband and I take part in a cooking team that makes meals for the Sunday service at our church. We only do it once a month, and it’s admittedly a lot of fun. But it’s also 4+ hours of hard work prepping, cooking, cleaning, setting up, serving, tearing down, cleaning more… You get the picture.

Our team consists of four members with random help on the side. But mostly, our group of four is responsible for seeing things through. We each took on a job to get the meal – nachos – done. I decided to take on the cheese sauce. And since I would be at the stove anyway, I’d take on browning the turkey too.

More than once, I was asked if I needed help. And every time I insisted I was fine. I was determined to get it done, to prove I could do it all.

I set about the kitchen, running back and forth to get the meat into the pan while the butter melted for the cheese sauce. I got the rue going, and then began adding milk. Then I rushed back to the meat to make sure it wasn’t burning. I finished adding the milk to the rue and stirred it.

And then I smelled it. Burnt.

Thing is, if I had asked for help, none of that would have happened. I had to bite back my pride and admit that the sauce was ruined. There was no more butter, so one of the guys had to go to the store to get some more. And when he came back, I asked him if he could be in charge of the sauce while I focused on the meat.

The story would be fine ending there. But it doesn’t.

After handing off the cheese sauce, my only job was to stir the two pans of meat in front of me. I could handle this, I got this. My pride was terribly wounded from the cheese sauce fiasco, but I was determined to get the meat cooking right. So when one of the girls came up to see if I could use some help, I told her NO. She started stirring one of the pans anyway.

“But this is my job,” I protested, as if I were a 5 year old guarding my mountain of blocks.

“But my job is done,” she cheerfully replied. So we stood together, all three of us surrounding this stove to finish cooking everything up.  At first I was terribly bothered. It was too crowded. And she was probably stepping in so I couldn’t screw this up too. I felt tied up in knots inside. But then, I decided to let it go. I took a deep breath and let it out. And then we all chatted the rest of the time. It was actually fun.

The meal was done, and we set it out to serve it. I stayed with the turkey while my husband poured the cheese sauce. The other guy offered to take over for me so I could eat, but I told him I was fine. When the line dispersed, I got my own plate. Then I served the stragglers in between bites.

Once everyone had eaten, it was time to start bagging things up. We all started putting things away. The cheese sauce had a ton leftover, so I started pouring it in bags so people could take some home. It was a messy job, and by the fifth bag I was beginning to wonder if it would ever be over.

“Here, I’ll hold this for you,” the girl said to me.

“I got it,” I said.

This time she didn’t fight me. And I saw myself in her eyes as she gave up and walked away.

grumpy girlI was selfish. I was unfriendly. I was a snob. I couldn’t find it in me to step down off my pedestal and accept that I NEEDED HELP.

What is wrong with me? I hate that I do this! The truth is, I can always use some help! I can’t do it on my own! And there’s nothing wrong with working together to get things done.

It might just be my single-mother syndrome. I spent all those years actually doing things on my own, and taking pride in that. Before that, I hadn’t been able to do anything on my own at all. I depended on everyone. But when I got on my feet and was able to provide for my kids without a husband, without my parents, without state money…it just felt good.

But now? Now I’ve got this chip in my shoulder that has me believing that accepting help is a sign of weakness, when it’s totally the opposite of that. There are strength in numbers. And we are here on this planet to build each other up.

I didn’t like that person I was on Sunday. I’m embarrassed at the way I acted. But maybe it needed to happen to drive the lesson home that it’s okay to receive help. We can all use help. It gets things done faster, and it builds connections.

I think this is going to be a hard lesson to forget.

Want more? Download “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows” – our Wine Country Mom stories about our former single-parent family life.

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Battling the baby bulge (excerpt)

I’m getting close to finishing my first round of edits on my WineCountryMom eBook.  It’s been kind of cool to read through those old entries and see where we’ve traveled from – all the things I struggled through and overcame, and how much the kids have grown since then.  It’s also pretty eye-opening to see the things I struggled with then – and still struggle with now.

Weight issues being one of them.

Granted, I’m not fat.  I’d like to get a little slimmer and a bit more firm, of course.  But we’re only talking 15 pounds, not 150 pounds.  However, I think weight will always be my issue, whether I’m big or small.

The one thing I’ve discovered differently over the years, though, is how important it is to love yourself no matter what size you are.  Our bodies are just our shells.  Whether we’re fat or thin, who we are on the inside doesn’t change.  You can lose all that weight on the outside, and still be that fat girl on the inside.  If you can’t love yourself with a few extra pounds, you won’t magically love yourself when they’re gone.

I’m working on my next article for the newspaper, and think I’ll touch on this. But for now, here’s an excerpted peek into retro WineCountryMom, and one of the chapters of the upcoming blog eBook.


babybulgeI’ve been fighting the baby bulge. No, not the kind that you have when you are newly pregnant and possess a cute little bump that later turns into an adorable basketball on your tiny frame (uh, yeah, unless you’re me and even your ankles get a baby bump). I’m talking about the baby bulge you battle once the baby is already out. To be fair, I did just have a baby (eight years ago), so I can’t claim a Heidi Klum body anymore (stop laughing). But for the past year I have been trying different diets and exercises to lose the weight once and for all. And in one year I have lost (drumroll please)…..

Ten pounds.

Yes, that’s right. Only ten pounds. And do you know why? Because of yo-yo dieting. It’s getting ridiculous. I have pretty much lost and gained the same ten pounds more times that I can keep track of…

End of excerpt. Read the rest in the eBook “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows“.


Wasting time

Today I came face to face with the reality that I am wasting my time. A friend was crowing about her good news that she was hired for a freelance piece for a major publication, and they were paying her $2 a word for an 800 word article.

Do the math. That’s $1600. That’s almost what I bring home every month.

Something about this didn’t sit well with me, and I got really, really angry about it. It took me a full 4 hours before I realized that my feelings towards her weren’t anger, but was merely the green-eyed monster rearing its jealous little head.

But the anger was definitely still there, and it was pointed directly at me.

This last month I have seen in-my-face proof that this life is not forever, and that everything can end at the drop of a hat. I wrote recently about the husband of a Facebook friend who passed away less than a week after his retirement, never getting to enjoy the relaxing fruits of his labors. And this past week, a schoolmate of my daughter’s fell victim to a freak accident that nobody could have seen coming – an event that has been throwing me for a loop over how unfair life can be.

And what the hell am I doing? I am busting my ass for some very short term goals, and doing nothing to take giant leaps towards the future. What if I were to die tomorrow? Am I living my life the way I want to? Not exactly. I mean, sure, I love my job and all I have accomplished thus far. I take nothing away from that. But the thing is, this is not my landing point. I have so many more goals in life, and I am treating this point of my journey like it’s the top of the ladder.

It’s not.

There’s a movie that released today about the end of the world called ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’. The movie got bad reviews, but the underlying message appears to be a good one. In it, the world is given a 3 week time limit when it’s discovered that a meteor headed straight for earth is unstoppable. Many spend their time doing the regular end of world stuff – you know, like having orgies, looting homes and businesses, and going bat-shit crazy. But some are actually more relaxed, taking the next three weeks and living them the way they want to.

Ok, now I’m not going to sit here and dwell on end of the world stuff. If that time ever were to manifest itself in my lifetime, it would be too late to have accomplished my goals of making a name for myself by publishing a best-selling novel. Let’s face it, at the end of the world, who’s going to waste their time reading some silly book? But that’s my point exactly.

NOW is the time to be making my future hopes and dreams a reality – not when it’s too late. I mean, there might be a metaphoric meteor heading my way. My health could fail. I could lose my day job. We could lose our house. My life could end. Or worse, I could lose my children or fiancé. Something awful could happen to steal away any of the passion I hold for writing, and I run the risk of not making myself immortal through the printed word right now while I am still fully capable of doing so.

I’ve spent so much energy banking on a future I hope will come about without actually moving forward to make it happen. I have a rough draft of a book that is sitting in my computer, waiting for after the wedding when I can start working on it – my latest of excuses as to why I’m not doing anything about it now. And I have 567 posts in this blog (568, counting this one) – of which nearly half could be considered good enough to be published in a magazine or in a book of experiences.

Instead, they are sitting here in this blog. Or they were wasted in my former blog where cruel readers used them to rip apart my kids. Or they are gathering dust where no one has read them ever.

My point is, I’ve reached that point where I need to stop wasting time and start thinking about tomorrow rather than focusing on surviving today. I need to get out of limbo and start winning this race against life. I’m worth success. I’m worth putting stuff out there that benefits ME while helping others instead of being just the faceless name behind articles I’m publishing elsewhere that will disappear and be forgotten in another week. It’s time to get off my ass and work to my full potential. Anything less is unacceptable.

And had I syndicated this entry, I would have received $1650 for it.

A life worth living.

The husband of one of my Facebook friends passed away this last week from a sudden heart attack. Death happens. It’s an inevitable part of life that we’re known to understand from the very beginning. But when it happens so quickly, it’s a really hard truth to swallow. 

In the case of my FB friend (who I don’t know IRL, but have met through my writing), both she and her husband just celebrated their retirement. Both are teachers, and judging by comments made from students and parents alike, they’re dedicated to what they do. They have two sons, one who graduated from college last year, the other just last week. And after so many years of work, this past week was supposed to be the first of many years of relaxation in their joint retirement. 

It was their first, and last. 

While I don’t personally know this woman, my heart is so heavy for her as she prepares for a memorial for her husband instead of celebrating with him in a time well earned. And as my own life feels incredibly blessed, I can’t help but feel afraid that I, too, could have something this tragic happen to take it all away. 

It’s funny (or not really, maybe just strange), there was a time when I didn’t care about death. Let it come. Life is so hard, and maybe with death things will be easy. But now? Life is good. It’s more than good. And if I think about it too hard, I become fearful that my life will end too early, my children’s and Mr W’s life will come to an end, that God’s purpose and my purpose for life is drastically different, and he’ll take me or the people I love before we’re finished with what we intend to do on earth. 

In the end, life goes on with or without us. And what we do in our lives will determine the mark we leave after we’ve gone. This man touched the lives of many in his teachings and surf-easy lifestyle. He also lived his life knowing he had a limited timeframe to do it in, aware that his heart disease might take him early. So he lived his life to the fullest. 

Am I living my life to the fullest?

Sometimes that answer is ‘yes’. Many times, however, it’s ‘no’. There are things that I keep putting off that I want to accomplish, claiming I just don’t have time. And yet, there are things taking up my time that don’t qualify as worthwhile. While I am watching TV or playing on my phone, I could be talking with a friend, spending time with my kids, or editing my book. 

Because time is precious. 

I am sad for this woman and how suddenly life has changed for her. And I hope the memories of a fulfilling life with her husband will carry her through. But I find hope and inspiration in just the mere glimpse I received of his life to ride the wave upon a life worth living. 

Go with God, Sandy Kronick. 

To everything, there is a season

Life is full of seasons. In the spring of our lives, we are protected and cared for by our parents. We grow and learn, we change and mature. We are in love with our parents, we hate our parents. We make friends with our neighbors just because they live near us. Our whole world is in the very neighborhood we live in. Hours feel like days, days feel like years, and years feel like an eternity. We are young, we are carefree, we will live on forever. In our season of summer, we have realized that we have minds of our own. And with that knowledge, we are brilliant! We become experts on certain subjects, knowing more than anyone else could possibly know about it. We are the beautiful people, the ones who are on top and going to make this world so much better than our parents – their generation truly screwed things up for us. We go off to college with our heads held high, our futures on the tips of our tongues. We leave and start families, swearing that we will not make the same mistakes as our parents when it comes to raising our children. “God forbid I sound like my mother!” Autumn comes, and our children have grown older. We come to the realization that perhaps we didn’t know it all, that maybe our parents actually did know a thing or two. We chuckle at our own children saying the same things we used to tell our parents – back when we knew it all. But it’s ok. The burden of knowing it all has been lifted from our shoulders, and we are content to know more than we did in our youth…and still have so much more to learn. We are suddenly less self conscious – how many people are really watching our every move, waiting for us to fall? No one has that time. We can finally live freely, and amazingly we possess more freedom than we did in our youth. In this season, our children will grow to leave our home and create families of their own, possibly entering their own autumn before we have moved on to winter. And winter will come for us too. One day we will be watching the leaves fall to the ground as we hug the sweaters to our aging bodies, and the next, the snow will have fallen on a whole new season of our lives. I have not reached it yet, but with the way time is passing so fast I know it will be here before I know it.

In these seasons, changes happen. We experience the same life that those around us are experiencing, but in many different ways and with different outcomes in our hearts. We find love, and we lose it. We experience new birth, and we grieve over death. We continue with the faith of our parents, or we find a new way to reach God, or we decide that there is no such thing as a god at all. We succeed in life, or we fail miserably. We make promises to ourselves that create guidelines for our lives. And then we break those promises as real life gets in the way. “I will never be that person.” “I will never allow someone like that in my life.” “That is against all my morals.” Those are dangerous statements. It is when you have printed those words in permanent marker on the pages of your life that you discover that….you can be that person. You can love someone who does you wrong, over and over. The future depends on the decisions of today, and sometimes those decisions are breaking the promises you made yesterday.

And along with changes, different people enter your life. Some will stay forever, changing along with you in your friendship and linked to your heart through common experiences. And some will leave. And it hurts. These are the people that may have helped you move into your very first apartment, or witnessed the birth of your child. They were at your wedding, or maybe there for your divorce. They may have held your hand while you cried, or laughed with you until your bellies hurt. They are the ones you could rely on for anything, the ones you could call in the middle of the night just because you needed to hear another human being breathing. They were your fortress against loneliness and solitude. At one time, they were your forever friends. But in this life, forever doesn’t really mean forever. And when the links to some friendships start to rust and dissolve, we find that we are grasping wildly, frantically, and with all our might. We want to hold onto it. We want to lock the friendship up in a box as it is slipping away, forcing it to stay with us forever. They are our connection to the past. They helped us make it to our future. And we cannot imagine our tomorrows without these friendships of our yesterdays.

Losing them is like breaking up with a lover. And sometimes, worse.

But everyone’s life has a season. And in those seasons, our paths will converge with those who are headed in the same direction. And while we stroll, we will share the same experiences that will allow us to remain walking, hand in hand. But we’re not always headed in the same direction. A new relationship, new friendships, a job change, a birth or a death in the family, money loss or money gain, a change of scenery, or any other change that occurs in this day to day process we call life – sometimes they lead us down different paths. And as much as we grasp the links from our heart to theirs, sometimes the chain needs to break and the paths need to divide.

Mr. Wonderful and I stood in the middle of the street as I pored my heart out to him over a friendship that had been slipping away for a while now. It was not the first time I had lamented over this with him. But just like every time before, he heard me out with open ears. And when he opened his mouth, he told me of the seasons. The friendship I was losing tears and sleep over, it had been a wonderful friendship. It had saved me in a time I needed saving, and in many ways, I couldn’t see how I could have survived certain aspects of my life without it. There had been lots of laughter, and just as many tears. But, Mr. Wonderful pointed out, perhaps the season of that friendship was ending. And just because it was didn’t mean that I loved them any less, and it didn’t mean that they didn’t love me. But our paths were no longer merging.

“I don’t know what to do,” I told him as we made our way home. “I know it’s ending. And it hurts more to keep hanging on when I know I need to just let go. But they were there for me in such a big way. I don’t think I could ever thank them enough for how much they did for me, and there is no way I could ever repay them.” I was silent for a moment, and so was he.

“Sometimes,” he said after a little while, “the best thing you can do is just say thank you.”

“This hurts,” I said.

“I know.”

I share this now, the day after Valentine’s Day, because love is sometimes not enough. Sometimes, even when we love with all of our heart and soul, we have to say goodbye. With any kind of relationship, there comes a time when a fork comes in the road, and we must stop and recalculate our directions. Are we going the same way? Does it still feel natural to be traveling together? Or is the road only getting more beat up as we walk hand in hand? Would we be able to travel lighter if we go down separate paths? Are you holding me up?

Am I holding YOU up?

Love is sharing the good times and the bad. Love is an embrace when we can no longer stand on our own. Love is a connection. And love, sometimes, is realizing that the end of the season has come and we must say goodbye, wishing the other well on their journey.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.  A time to weep, and a time to laugh.  A time to mourn, and a time to dance.  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.  A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”