3 girls in a hardware store

I need you to imagine a beautiful Christmas tree. Picture strategically placed ornaments, twinkling lights, branches flocked with snow and glistening diamonds reflecting off the tree. Now imagine the majestic pine toppling over.

From the other room, a friend and I watched as one guy repeatedly lifted the tree like one would pluck a turnip from the ground. After several times, we finally decided to investigate. A closer look led us to a full-blown operation. Two guys under the tree and my little friend delivering orders. Apparently, the tree stand broke sending her creation into the wall.

Three of us girls rallied up and headed to purchase a new stand. My very determined friend spotted them right away. We collectively decided that the most expensive one was the only way to go. Besides, it came with a “limited lifetime warranty.” Whatever that means.

She proceeded to tell us that she also wanted to prop up the tree to make room for presents. All she kept saying was, “we need wood, the kind that’s stacked.” Absolutely stumped, we brought in two poor unsuspecting lumber guys. With our five minds attempting to decode what she wanted, we finally came to the realization that she wanted a pallet.

A few laughs and head scratches later we found some. Only they were way too big and would cost an additional $15. The guys must have been bored or felt pity because they mentioned a smaller pallet size usually thrown away but a manager needed to be paged.

Without hesitation, the words slipped out, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always, no.” A phrase my step-dad would often share. They got a small bout of inspiration and decided to ask on our behalf.

So we waited. Half expecting rejection but to our surprise, the manager said, yes! There we were… three happy girls strutting down the aisles with our shiny new stand and 2 FREE pallets.

I share this story because my friend is tenacious in everything she does. I admire that about her. She puts her mind to something and makes it happen. I think that’s what gave me the boldness to speak up. Watching her relentless pursuit of getting what she wanted, left me with no choice but to be on her side.

How often do we just give up or settle? How many times do we pay the extra $15 for something we didn’t even really want? Friend, we have got to stop folding and start persisting. Did we bug some of the employees? Probably. Did we look silly and open ourselves to rejection? Definitely. But we also ended the evening re-decorating an elevated tree.

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For the Mother Who Dared to Dream

For the little girl who grew up in a family of 7 living in a two bedroom house. Who watched her barely speaking English mother struggle to provide for her babies because her alcoholic husbands were unable. For the little girl who worked in the fields to help pay bills but was treated like an insect sprayed with pesticides. For the little girl who grabbed a frying pan to hit her stepfather on the head to protect her mother from another clenched fist.

For this little girl who partied, used drugs, and barely made it through high school. Using sports as an outlet and was given an opportunity to earn a college scholarship. She took the chance and was finally free…until she received news of her big brother’s murder. Grief-stricken and once again burdened for her own mother, she returned home as the little girl who couldn’t catch a break.

This girl, expected to be a woman, carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. She met a man, got married, had 2 babies and lived her life. At the ten year mark, a divorce meant her cards were once again a bad deal.

With the weight of the world weighing her down instead of folding, was determined to spin it on her finger like a basketball. So she learned. Learned to fight for her children but for the first time, learned to fight for herself. It took the sacrifice of time, money and sanity. One day it would all pay off and she would walk across the stage not once, twice, but three times to earn her Doctorate’s Degree.

To this little girl who grew up and became my mother. Who is far from perfect but taught me what it means to dream. Who opened my eyes to understand what reality looks like. That life is hard, and people will fail you, but regardless of the cards one is dealt, the future is in the hand of the individual.

For every door slammed out of frustration, every word spoken back in anger, for every time I misunderstood how hard and for what you were working toward. For the moments we missed, for the moments I thought were lost. I now see were moments I was being taught the most valuable of lessons. I can do anything, I can be anything when I work to become whatever that is.

To mothers everywhere. Dream for yourself. I can see that it’s easy to get lost and overshadowed in the lives of your children. They become your whole heart. So wrapped and intertwined that you can no longer recognize where they begin and you end. Fight for yourself because they are watching and will one day use it as fuel for their own fight.

To all mothers, who are hard of themselves for the guilt they feel. Your children may not quite understand. They may be distant, say hurtful words and take you for granted. They may not have words of gratitude to speak yet, you may have a broken relationship but one day, all children see their mother’s for exactly what they are. Our rock, our foundation, our home.

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Junk Drawer

In our house, we have three. It is often an argument about how much crap is in them and I am not too prideful to admit that it’s 93 percent my fault. When we first bought the house I had a goal not to have a junk drawer but as time went by the empty spaces got filled with things that didn’t seem to have a place. When you walk into our home, it is tidy and mostly picked up but the junk is still there even if you don’t see it at first.

Unfortunately, this is how I handle situations in my life, too. When there is anger I refuse to admit, frustrations I choose not to confront, or hurt feelings I decide to deny all come up for the world to see, I find a junk drawer to stuff them in.

On the outside, I am put together, happy and full of life but the unresolved feelings are still there; and so much like the mail falling through the back of the drawer to the cabinet below, are my emotions spilling into all areas of my life into places they don’t belong.

Today is January 1, 2016, and all the junk from last year is following me into the new year because I chose not to clean it out. When 2017 hits I want to be able to say just the opposite; instead of ignoring things and shoving them inside, I dealt with it as it came. So, I will put it through the shredder, give it away, find another use or get rid of it.

Happy New Year and cheers to getting rid of the junk.

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