Author Archives: Melissa Edmondson

Greed

“Greed is not a financial issue. It’s a heart issue.”
– Andy Stanley

Christmastime is here, ya’ll! The time of love and friendship and family and happiness and….greed. Wait, did she just say greed?

Why, yes. Yes, she did.

Greed.

[Now, bear with me here, folks.. This isn’t going to be a Debbie Downer post. I promise. There’s a method to my madness. Sometimes.]

As much as I’d love to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes…well, sometimes it’s just not. And there’s something about Christmastime that brings out that horrid green-eyed monster of greed. (Yes, I know “green-eyed monster” is supposed to refer to jealousy, but I couldn’t think of a better analogy so I stole that one. I mean, green = money, right? I think it works better here anyway. So there.)

Think about it: it’s all about spending, spending, spending this time of year. And while, yes, you may be spending money on others, look at what it takes to do it. Black Friday – the notorious day of doom. Trampled customers, fist fights over a food processor or a $99 TV or whatever, miserable store employees getting yelled at by miserable customers. And on, and on, and on.

And aside from the shopping, you see greed in family life as well. Divorced families arguing over where the kids are during which times. Different sides competing over the prime Christmastime slots with the young’uns. Oh yeah, the monster definitely comes out in divorced families with kids during the holidays. Heck, I’ve even recently seen a very financially well-off ex-wife decide that Christmas is a good time to decide to spring a custody/child support suit on the not-so-well-off, devoted father of her children. That’ll teach him, right? Revenge. Greed.

Evil.

I’m telling you, people, it’s enough to make your skin crawl.

I was standing in a gas station the other day during my lunch break from work contemplating which fountain soda I wanted to pollute my body with this time, and which size cup of pollution I was going to spring for, when the concept of greed presented itself to me in full force. After choosing the biggest cup I could find, I put just a bit of ice in the cup (hey, can’t take up room in the cup with ice…sheesh…) and proceeded to fill the cup up to the tippy top rim so I could acquire the absolute biggest bang for my buck. Then, after a cat-and-mouse game of finally finding the right lid for said cup, I sat the cup down on the counter and went to snap the lid down. And…..guess what happened?  The cup was too full (of my greed) and the lid caused the syrupy, toxic liquid to spill out over the top. All over my hands, my shirt, the counter, the floor…you name it, Coke was on it.

Dang it.

(And you can bet that lazy, green-eyed monster didn’t stick around to help me clean that crap up either.)

Because of my wanting just absolutely as much as I could get, my greed spilled over onto me and caused a huge mess that I was left to clean up alone. And something tells me that concept is not only going to apply to fountain drinks…you catch my drift?

So, there I was back at work after my lunch break, covered in sticky Coke remnants,  when I logged onto Facebook to see if anyone else was having as crappy a day as I was.  (Misery loves company, ya know.)  And that’s when I saw the post that stopped me right in my tracks. It was a “group post,” meaning that I didn’t know the person from Adam but it showed up in my newsfeed since I was part of the group, and it said simply this: “I am afraid I can’t buy my four kids anything at Christmas.”

Wow.

She went on to explain that she had thought she was going to be able to cover it, but with Christmas just around the corner, it was looking like she wasn’t going to be able to pull it together. Four kids, a single mom, and no money.

My greedy Coke spill quickly because a distant memory as my thoughts immediately went to this woman and Christmastime. What was she going to do? I empathized with her situation. I too know that feeling…I’ve been there many times myself. But somehow, with the help of family and friends, Christmas always managed to be a success for my own kids in the end.  We have been very lucky.  Very blessed.  But I know too well that “momma” feeling of worry and stress over your kids at Christmas. And what if this woman didn’t have family to pitch in to help like I always did? What if she really truly was alone and had no way of providing a Christmas for those four eager, expecting kids?

I just had to do something. I just HAD to.

That’s when the emails started. Emails between myself and this mother (finding out clothes sizes, Christmas list wishes, etc) and emails reaching out to people in the community for help. I posted on Facebook, made some phone calls to local organizations, got some help from the women’s group at the church I attend, and….within hours (HOURS, people)…I had an army of people ready to help this mom.

Wow.

Now, this was only four days ago, mind you. Four short days ago. And as of this moment, Richard and I are going to have to take his truck to be able to fit everything to deliver to this woman tomorrow. For a few days out of this Christmas season, greed was completely forgotten. All around the county (and even surrounding counties thanks to some of my non-local friends), people dropped what they were doing and went out and Christmas shopped for children they had never met in their lives and, frankly, that they probably never would.

In a communication yesterday with this mom, she made this statement, “I just can’t believe this is real.” And you know what? I have to say I agree. That hardhearted, pessimistic woman who stood at that drink fountain cleaning up Coke and thinking about all the greed surrounding her this time of year (including her own) was no more. Now, here she is…not believing that this is actually real. Not believing that a plea for help from one slightly jaded, disgruntled, Coke-covered grinch has managed to turn itself into a crusade. A mission. A swelling of love and generosity that will be soon be turning into a beautiful, happy Christmas in one little mountain home in North Carolina, filled with four smiling faces and one very, very grateful and relieved mom.

Wow.  (Have I said, “Wow” yet?)

So, am I changed by this? Oh, you can bet I am. Like you wouldn’t believe. Does greed still exist in this world? Well, of course it does. But from now on, I am going to do my very best to practice a different kind of greed in my own life. From now on I am going to be greedy for things that aren’t things. I am going to start being greedy for human kindness. Greedy for compassion. Greedy for love. I’m going to soak up as much of it as I can.  And then do you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to come back here and I’m going to tell you about it.  And I want you to do the same. Let’s start sharing the good stories, shall we?

Get out there and be greedy, my friends.

Merry Christmas.

greed

***

 

 

A Heavy Life

“Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.”
– Galileo Galilei

So, I have a question to ask you guys today.  And if I were guessing, I’d say it’s probably not one that you get asked very often. What I want to know is this:

How heavy is your life?

heavylifeAny idea what I mean by that? I’m going to guess that most of you probably put a negative connotation on the word “heavy.” Am I right? That word is thrown around a lot when used to describe not-so-pleasant things. Weight, for instance. (That’s the first thing that would come to my mind.)  Or it’s used in various negative phrases…”a heavy heart” or “carrying a heavy burden,” things like that. But today, I want you to think of that word in a drastically different way than you may have before.

Let me explain.

Too often, we find ourselves measuring our lives incorrectly. We measure it in terms of success or status or…the one I despise…money. (Nothing makes me angrier than greed….UGH…but that’s a blog for another day.) We constantly compare ourselves to the Joneses. Do I make as much as he does? Is my house as big as hers is? Is my bank account as fat as it possibly could be? What do I need to do to make more money? To be more this? To have more that?

Sigh.

Frankly, I think we are idiots.

My husband just lost a very dear friend yesterday. In the process of his passing, something has spoken to me so loudly and clearly that I can’t seem to ignore it. All around us are words of comfort to the family and words of praise for the man that he was. Not once…not once…have I heard anything about the amount of money this man had. Or how far he got in his career. Or what kind of car he drove. Or how big his house is.

No. Of course not.

No, I’m hearing his life being described in much more measurable ways than money. It’s the weight of his life I’m hearing about. And let me tell ya, this man had a heavy life.

Most notably, his life was heavy with family. He leaves behind three children who adored him and countless other relations whose lives will now have a gap where he once belonged.

His life was heavy with friends. I can’t count the number of people on Facebook who have changed their profile pictures to one of him in his honor. So many status messages have been shared honoring him and the life that he lead. It doesn’t get much heavier than that, if you ask me.

His life was heavy with dedication. In addition to being a dedicated father and friend, he was a dedicated Mason. Twenty-five years, to be exact. That’s a long time to dedicate to the love of your fellow brothers and to the good that these men do for the world…more than we are probably even aware of.

No, the weight of his life has nothing to do with his money. Not at all. It’s the weight of all of the other things that matter. The weight of the tears that are shed in his absence. The weight of the words of praise that describe the life he lived. The weight of the kindness and compassion he showed towards others while he was here.

The weight of the love that surrounded his life, both given and received.

That is how you measure how heavy a life is, my friends.

So, again, I ask you: How heavy is your life? Are you using the right tools to measure it by?

Just checking.

***

“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”
- Corrie Ten Boom

In memory of our friend Jim Nelson, 1944 – 2014

jimnelson

I Know Where Love Lives

“You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives”
– Hal Ketchum

So, let me tell you a little about what’s been happening at my house lately.  Actually, it’s kind of the same thing that is pretty much always happening at my house. Richard, my gorgeous new husband who happens to be a musician, is learning a new song.

And here’s what happens at our house when Richard is learning a new song.

Nothing.

That’s right. Nothing.

The man has a one-track mind, people. He decides he wants to learn a new song (or anything new for that matter) and his focus is on that one thing and that one thing only.  He’s like a dog with a bone, man.

Example?  A conversation in the living room the other night:

Me:  Richard, did you hear me?
Richard:  *singing and playing guitar*
Me:  Richard?  I was talking to you.
Richard: *singing and playing guitar*
My daughter: He only listens if it’s about a song. Sing it to him and see if that works.

Oh yeah. This is how it is, folks.  And you want to know a secret?  Want to know how I really feel about that?

I love it.

I know, I know.  I know what you’re thinking. Oh, they’re newlyweds. She thinks it’s cute now, but just wait…  And hey, I’ll give ya that. Maybe you’re right. Maybe one day it’ll drive me nuts. But right now?

Nope.

And here’s why.

I’ve been hearing a lot of pretty sad stuff in the news lately. One, in particular, is something that has happened to a fellow runner in an online running group I am a part of. Now, I don’t know this woman personally. Let me just give that disclaimer upfront. But I feel like I do. She’s a woman; a mom; a runner; a fellow human being. I identify with her in many ways. But there’s one way that (but for the grace of God go I) I don’t identify with her. She was in an abusive relationship. Note the word was. She is no longer in that relationship anymore. Why? Because her husband…the father of her four children and the man who took vows before God to honor and cherish her…took her life last week.

Just like that, she’s gone.

You hear news like that, and you can’t help but think of your own life. It’s human nature. I’m no exception. First, I feel a sense of disbelief. That can’t possibly have just happened to someone who is just like me. Next, I feel sadness. Such overwhelming sadness for those four kids who have to face this world without their mother, and with a murderous father in prison for the rest of his life.

And then, my feelings almost immediately switch over to something else. Gratitude. That’s right. I feel grateful. I can’t help it. It may sound horrible to say that–it may sound overwhelmingly selfish–but that doesn’t make it any less true. I immediately thank God that I will never know how that poor woman felt in those last moments of her life. I’ll never know what it feels like to fear the man I love.

Never.

So, when you put it like that…it makes a little one-track-mind singing seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it?  I’m in love with a man who fills our home with music. So, not only does it not irritate me when his mind is stuck on a song…it fills me with an indescribable joy. My heart fills with so much love for this gentle, tender, good man that I just cannot believe that the stars aligned in such a way that brought him into my world.

So, back to the song. The song he has been learning is called “I Know Where Love Lives” by Hal Ketchum.  Here’s a little snippet of the lyrics:

There’s a house on the edge of town
It’s a little old, it’s a little run down
Full of laughter and tears and toys
Crazy things only love enjoys

I know where love lives

I know where love lives
She’s sitting on the back step in the evening air
Sea green eyes and her chestnut hair

You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives

Wow.

Nope, our life isn’t perfect.  Yep, we get on each others’ nerves at times, no doubt.  But you know what?

I know where love lives.

And that’s the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

lovelives

Photo credit: Bobbi Jo Scott

 ***

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things. Like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.”
– Joseph B. Wirthlin

That Was Hard

“To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.”
– Jerome Drayton

Okay, here it is….a blog post about my first full marathon!  Now, I know that people who have just run their first marathon don’t generally like to talk about it much.  I mean, surely this is the first time most of you have even heard about this, right?  What?  Melissa ran a marathon?  You’re kidding!  I know, I know, we marathoners are generally kind of quiet about such accomplishments and all….

NOT!

AHHHH!!! I ran a friggin marathon, people!!!

marathonme2

Anthem Richmond Marathon – finisher photo

And I cannot. stop. talking. about. it.  My friends and family are going to hate me.  I just can’t stop.  Coworker: “Hey, Melissa, you want a piece of gum?” Me: “No, thanks. You know, I can’t chew gum when I run. It’s weird. Oh, hey, did you know I just ran a marathon?…”  Oh yeah, it’s that bad.

But, in a meek attempt at trying to reign in the length of this blog, I’m going to narrow down my recap a little for you.  I’m going to tell you the top 10 most important, most memorable things about my first full marathon experience.  Okay?  Sound fair?  Short and sweet, right? Good.  Then, here we go.

Marathon Memory Number 1The friendship. Oh, hands down, this makes the list. I was so blessed to be able to make this marathon trip with two good friends and fellow marathoners, Tammy and Teresa.  This was Teresa’s second marathon and Tammy’s fourth. Not only were they incredibly supportive, but they were also knowledgeable and helped me know what to expect.  It also helped to know that they would be at the end waiting for me!  (They both PR’ed in this race, by the way!  Go Tammy and Teresa!)  It also didn’t hurt to have buddies to hit up the Cheesecake Factory with after the race!  Mmmmmm.

marathongroup3

Me, Teresa, and Tammy – before and after

marathonme5

I would have stood up for this picture, but…. :/

Marathon Memory Number 2The awesome bling!  Okay, I know I’m not going in chronological order here.  I didn’t get the bling until the end of the race. But hey, it was important enough to throw in here at the top of the list, okay?  This race had so much cool stuff for the finishers!  I got a finisher’s hat, a finisher’s fleece blanket, and a butt-kickin’ medal.  Oh, and a bagel.

Marathon Memory Number 3The funniest sign I’ve ever seen in a race.  Now, granted, I’ve never done a marathon before this one. But I’ve done quite a few races and have seen quite a few signs. Not to mention the signs I’ve seen online.  But the dude that was waiting for us at the bottom of a hill during this race takes the cake.  Now, mind you, it was 26 degrees or so at the beginning of this race, and it didn’t warm up a whole heck of a lot throughout the day.  But there, standing at the bottom of a hill that I had decided to just walk through, was a man…buck naked…holding a, um, strategically placed sign that said “Run faster, or I’m dropping the sign.”  Oh my gosh, that was the funniest thing ever!  I managed to pick up the pace a tad, believe it or not, and ran up the whole hill.  How about that?  So, thank you, naked stranger man.  Job well done.  (Okay – and don’t tell Richard – but I actually peeked when I ran by and he wasn’t actually naked.  False advertising….)

marathonmestart

Starting line

Marathon Memory Number 4The feeling at the starting line.  Oh, there is nothing like it, my friends. Knowing that all that hard work and daydreaming had lead me to that moment.  Standing there amongst thousands of other people that I thought I’d never stand among. It was quite humbling. And oh so awesome.

marathonme10Marathon Memory Number 5: The running. Of course. The running. I wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t love to run, right? That feeling of soaring along…knowing that I was about to go a distance I’d never gone before…ahhh.  It’s hard to explain if you’re not a runner. Just trust me. Unchartered territory is a beautiful thing to a runner. And I knew that’s where I was headed.

Marathon Memory Number 6Mile 20.  Although I was already tired and starting to hurt, Mile 20 was such a beautiful sight. My longest run to-date up to that point had been a 20-mile training run. I knew that the moment I stepped across that 20 mile point, I was somewhere I had never been before. And that was really cool.

marathonme9Marathon Memory Number 7The pain. Oh, the pain.  Hey, I didn’t say that every moment I remembered from the marathon would be pleasant, did I? I will never tell the story of my first marathon without remembering that pain. Oh my gosh! When all those marathon articles I read said, “Be prepared, it’s gonna hurt,” by golly, they meant it. It did. It was intense.  See this picture? Obviously not the most flattering picture of me there ever was. But it’s definitely the most real. You can even see it in my hands…they are balled into fists of determination. Honestly, I love this picture. It shows what it took to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get myself to that finish line. My legs did not want to continue, but my heart did. And this picture shows that.

marathonme11Marathon Memory Number 8The unbelievable amount of support.  Oh my gosh…I couldn’t believe all of the texts, Facebook messages and posts, phone calls, etc. that I received with regard to the marathon. It was amazing how many of you had my back through this. And believe me, I thought of all of you as I ran. I got a message from my mom during the race telling me how proud she was of me. From my fantastic husband saying the same and how much he loved and believed in me. From my teenage daughter who…okay, time to drop the sentimentality here…who said, “Have fun running and stuff.”  Hey, you take what you can get, right?  I got a phone call from my dad after the race checking on me and making sure I had made it okay, and telling me he was proud of me.  This is what life is all about really. Knowing that family and friends are there with you through it all. I never felt that as much as I felt it while I was running that race.  In fact, I broke each mile down to pick a particular person in my life and thank God for them.  That’s what got me through some of those last miles, believe me.

marathonme4

About 0.05 away from the finish line

Marathon Memory Number 9Seeing the finish line.  Oh, people, let me tell you – there is nothing like that.  Knowing that the pain was so close to being over!  Knowing that I was about to join the less than 1% of people that know what it’s like to run a 26.2-mile race. (After seeing this crowd, I still just can’t fathom how that statistic can be right, but I guess it is! There was a moment after the race when I was explaining the feelings I was having to Richard and he commented, “There are very few people in this world who really know how you feel right now.” Wow. Such a humbling thought.)

And finally, here we are.  The end of the list.  (See?  That didn’t take too long, did it?) ;)

The final most important memory about my first full marathon experience?  The thing that I won’t ever forget for as long as I live?

Marathon Memory Number 10That feeling I got when I crossed the finish line. That feeling that even I, a blabbermouth writer, can’t seem to put into the right words. That knowing, deep down in my soul, that I did not give up. That I set my mind to do something so extremely difficult…so unbelievably hard…and that I actually succeeded at it.  That feeling of pride in myself.

As I crossed that finish line, I left so many things behind on that marathon course. Past heartbreaks, mistakes, health problems, self-doubt, insecurities….you name it. At that moment in time, as I crossed that finish line, I was one thing, and one thing only.

I was a marathoner.

marathonme3

Anthem Richmond Marathon finish line – 5:28:12

So thank you, readers.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Thank you for reading through this and for humoring me as I went through the memories that this experience has left me with. Thank you for letting me show you how very much this means to me and how it has literally changed my life.

Now, you go out and find something that gives you this feeling, okay?  I mean it.  Go.  Right now.

Life is way too short not to have moments like this one.

***

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”
– John Hanc

 

I did!

“The highest happiness on earth is the happiness of marriage.”
—William Lyon Phelps

So, remember that post I wrote a while back called “I do?”  Well, guess what?

I did!

weddingC

Our family

On November 1, 2014, Richard and I were married.  FINALLY!

I wanted to wait until I got the professional pics back to write a blog about our wedding, but I just decided that I couldn’t wait anymore.  There were so many magical moments that I don’t want to let slip out of my memory.  I figured I better get them out here before they’re lost…I’m not a spring chicken anymore, ya know.  So, here goes!

Well, first of all, for those of you who aren’t local, or who weren’t present, November 1 dawned with a slight surprise.  After mid-week temps in the 70s, November 1 decided to be the day that the first snow fell.  And we’re not talking flurries here, people.  We’re talking Snow. With a capital S.  Wanna see?

snowhouse

Our house on Wedding Day

Yep, we got a good 3-4 inches of snow overnight, and it was still falling. Now, mind you, our wedding was to be held right here at our house. In our living room. We couldn’t help but wonder how this was going to affect the turnout, but honestly we weren’t all that worried.  We had a very small wedding planned that consisted of mostly family and a few close friends…it was the reception later that might be affected by the weather.  As for the wedding, most of the people who were going to be present were already safe and secure inside our home anyway, so we were good to go!  No worries, right?

And then comes the call from the hairdresser.

“Um, yeah, the weather is a little too rough for me. I’m not going to make it.”

*Sigh*  So, I’m not the “hire a hair dresser” type anyway, but I was actually looking forward to this.  This lady had offered to come to our house and get myself and my daughter and my step-daughter (awww…”step-daughter”…yay!) ready so that it would be at least one less stressor on my plate. So, I hadn’t done anything to “plan” any kind of hairstyle for any of us, because it didn’t have to be my problem. Ha…wrong. Welcome to “this is your problem now.”  Crap!

weddingF

My niece Emaree…stepping in as hairdresser extraordinaire

No worries, though.  With family surrounding me, we had this covered.  First, up stepped my five-year-old niece Emaree.  She got me all brushed out and ready to go.  What more could a bride need, right? ;)  And then, after she had us all tangle-free, her mom – my saintly sister Cathy – stepped in and finished the job.  Thank God for sisters!  I think we ladies probably looked even better than we would have if the hairdresser would have shown up, don’t you?  WeddingE(Thank you, Cathy!!!)

So, hairstyle catastrophe averted, it was on to the ceremony.

After my fantastic husband-to-be drove to town to pick up our photographer and bring her to the house to keep her from having to drive in the snow, everyone was officially present and accounted for, including our three impromptu flower girls.  Impromptu flower girls, you ask?  Well, let’s just say that we had three little girls that were bound and determined that a wedding is just not a wedding without flower girls.

weddingG

Bridal party…WITH flower girls

So, my wonderful aunt Stacey made a last minute dash to Walmart for some flower petals and…voila!  Flower girls.

(Hey, if the ladies aren’t happy….no one is happy.  Capisce?)

[Thank you, Kenzie, Emaree, and Elise….you girls were perfect!!!]

weddinglivingroom2

Fireplace

The ceremony was short and simple, but not without that special Edmondson sentimentality thrown in here and there. For one thing, we got married in the very spot that Richard’s mother and late father were married in – in front of the fireplace in the living room.

weddinglivingroom

Photo display

At the beginning of the ceremony, Richard lit a candle in front of a picture of his father to honor his memory and make him a part of our special day.  Also, together with the picture of Richard’s father, we placed photos in the window of all of the weddings and receptions before ours that took place in and around this home.  (Ours was definitely not the first union of love in this spot, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.)

weddingH

The Edmondson/Halsey family

After many tears were shed and rings were exchanged, we then joined as a family to participate in a sand ceremony, with each of us adding our own color sand to the glass jar representing the joining of our two families.   And there it was….the deed was done.  Our new family was officially complete.

Then, a few hours later, it was on to the reception!  Here’s where we were surprised by the turnout.  Apparently the weather didn’t stop many people, we had a house FULL of love and laughter that evening. So many people dropped by to celebrate with us…and oh, the food!  So much food!

Speaking of food…I almost forgot to mention our wedding “cake!”  Instead of going with a cake, we decided to do cupcakes.  I had that in my head from the beginning (seemed less formal somehow and that was kind of the theme to this whole thing) so an idea hit me one day.  One of our little theatre buddies, Rowan (age 14), is quite the little baker.  Oh, who am I kidding?  We’re talking child prodigy here, people.  For real.  So, I asked Richard a few months ago how he would feel about us hiring a 14-year-old as our wedding cupcake maker.  His response?  He absolutely loved the idea.  And the finished result?

cupcakes

Cupcake tower a la Rowan

WOW!

The kid’s got some mad skillz, yo.  We were thrilled….and so were our guests!

Oh, there were just so many wonderful, unique, amazing things that happened as part of my wedding day, that I just don’t know how to list them all in one blog post. From a winter-storm related power outage during the reception (yep…that happened), to my former theatre director giving me “notes” after the wedding (yep…that happened too…”Okay, next time a little less weepy and a little more in control of your emotions”…), this wedding had it all, my friends.  Memories, galore.

And then some.

If you were a part of my wedding day, near or far, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  We felt the love that day, for sure.  Not only the massive amount of love that we felt for each other, but the outpouring of love from our friends and family as well. We have never felt so honored.

It was the perfect day…winter storm and all.

Check back for another blog post after we get our professional photos back!  I want to give mad props to my friend and photographer Bobbi Jo in that post and showcase her and her excellent work.  I can’t wait to show you!

Thank you for traveling through my wedding day with me by reading this blog. I can’t wait to come back and read this over and over throughout the years and remember how very happy I was on November 1, 2014.  And how very “right” it all felt.

Here’s to many, many years of bliss!

weddingA

My love

***
“I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It’s not about a production number, it’s about a meaningful moment between two people that is witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about.”
– Jane Seymour

Lead By Example

“It’s hard being a girl. There are a lot of body image issues that come up and I think the best thing we can do for our kids is lead by example.”
– Cheryl Hines

Some of you may remember me mentioning a while back that I am now helping coach a new Girls on the Run team in our area.  If you’re not familiar with Girls on the Run, we are basically what the name implies…girls on the run!  We have a team of 3rd – 5th grade girls and we meet twice a week…not only to run, but also to talk about the qualities and values we need to have to be the best ladies we can be out here in this big ole world.  And believe me, I’m learning just as much as the girls are.  No doubt about it.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog.

exampleblogOne of the things the other two coaches and I have discussed is the importance of participating in both the physical activities (running, warmups, etc.) and the mental activities (lessons about our character, etc.) right along with the girls.  It’s one thing to tell people what they should do, but it becomes a whole different lesson when you show them.  It means more.  For instance, if we expect the girls to do 20 laps, then we get out there and do 20 laps with them.  If we are teaching a lesson about the importance of not gossiping, we have to make sure we don’t find ourselves in situations where we, as adults, are doing just that.  You catch my drift?

We have to not only lead these girls, but lead them by example.

Now, I thought I was doing a pretty job of this whole concept. I mean, after all, I’m currently training for a marathon…surely I’m leading by example as far as running is concerned, right?  And when we have our lessons about character traits, I’ve been willing to share personal info from my own life (including the parts I admittedly need to work on myself…I mean, who knew that listening was actually a part of the process when I’m arguing with my fiancé, Richard? Hey…you learn something new every day, right?)  But earlier this week, something caught me slightly off guard.  My “lead by example” strategy got challenged.

One of our girls was talking to me during our laps, and she mentioned how much trouble she has with her “crazy hair.” Now, this wasn’t the first time this girl has mentioned her hair, so I know it is somewhat of a sore spot with her. Like me, she has been “blessed” with a head full of curly hair.  And, as we all know, the straight-haired girls want the curls and the curly-haired girls want to give them to them.  I understood this girl’s dilemma quite well.  Taming the mane does not come easy.

So, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Her:  I have so much trouble with my crazy hair!
Me:  Why do you call it crazy hair? You have great hair!
Her:  You don’t understand. It’s curly and frizzy and everywhere all the time.
Me:  Oh, I definitely understand, silly. Mine is exactly the same.
Her:  *quizzical look* No, it’s not.
Me:  Well, sure it is.
Her:  I can’t tell. You always wear it back.
Me:  Well…

And here’s where I had to actually stop myself from saying what was on the tip of my tongue.  Because you know what almost came out?  What almost spilled out of my face was, “Well, that’s because my hair is horrible and I can’t do anything with it.”

Whooops.

Didn’t I just finish telling her that we had the same hair?  If I said that, what would I be telling her about her own hair?

I can’t remember exactly how I finished the conversation. I think I told her something about how as you get older, you find more ways to fix your hair and different products that make you learn to like it better, etc.  Which is true. But you know what I usually do with my crazy curls?  Straighten them. And when I don’t have time for that, I pile them in a ponytail or in a bun. I hide them.

Here’s where I need to learn to lead by example.

If I tell this little girl to embrace her curls and learn to love them…all while mine are hidden from view, is she going to hear me?  Is she going to learn to accept herself for who she is and not try to “fix” what she perceives as an error to make herself more “acceptable” to her peers?  *sigh*  I’m guessing not.

Time to lead by example.

mehairblogSo, today, my crazy curls are flapping around for all the world to see.  When I get to practice in a few hours, that little girl is going to see that she and her coach have a little something in common…curly, “crazy” hair that we are learning to accept and appreciate.  Together, we are going to show each other that this thing that makes us unique, somehow also makes us the same.  And we are going to learn to be proud of that fact…not try to hide it.

So, thank you my little Girls on the Run student for showing this old gal a little thing or two.

Are you leading by example in your life?  Something to think about, isn’t it?  The little people are watching…don’t forget that.

 ***

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
– Mahatma Gandhi