Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Letter to my 16 year old self....

A dear friend of mine, Joanna Roddy, and some of her friends have asked people to participate in a "simul-blog", where several people post on the same topic on the same day.  The subject is "A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self".  Here is a link so you can read the others who are joining in. http://seattleiteimagery.blogspot.com/    Her blog is Roddylife http://roddy-life.blogspot.com/2010/08/letter-to-my-16-year-old-self.html and I highly recommend it.

Wow.  That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of my 16 year old self.  Wow.

Since I am 51, a bit more time has passed for me than most of you sharing in this “simul-blog”, so a lot more stuff has happened since I was 16.  Many of you are just starting families, my kids are all grown.  But I certainly remember being 16 and all that came with it.  So, I am going to give this a shot.  Well, first let’s think of where I was at 16....

At 16 I was already married and had a daughter, Shay.  We had settled into family life and had even purchased our own home (after I went to court and gave up my rights as a minor so I could legally sign the contract).  I was learning to cook, bake and make a home.

The home we purchased was just a couple blocks from where I went to middle school, so every morning kids just a bit younger than me walked past my home on their way to school.  I have to admit it was a struggle watching them go off to classes with cares that at the time you think are monumental (boyfriends, bullies, where are we going for lunch), but compared to the cares that came with marriage and kids, I looked at them and thought “they have no idea”.

But, what would I say to myself knowing what I know now?  Here goes:

The first thing my 51 year old self wants to tell you is that you will be ok.  There will be times when you will be ready to lose your mind, and you will even have a couple of nervous break downs, but you are going to get through them.  You will think you are alone, that no one understands you and that you are unloved, but are going to be ok.  The person I am now, is because of who you were back then.

God loves you.  No, Sue, I mean it,  He REALLY loves YOU - just as you are.  In fact, He made you the way you are...really.  He loves you as you are now and the person you will become. HE LOVES YOU.

Be grateful.  Be very grateful.  Don’t focus on what you DON’T have, but what you do and know that the possibilities ahead of you are endless.  Be grateful everyday, several times a day.

Right now, your meals consist of pretty simple stuff as your cooking skills are nil.  One day, you will be a wonderful cook.  And, you have taught each of your children to be wonderful cooks - so when you are old, you will not starve.

After you have your second baby (in about a year or so from now) your mom is going to tell you that you are too skinny.  Don’t listen to her.  In just a few  years she is going to do an about face and every time she measures your hips for a new garment she is making she will say “Oh Susie!” as she looks at the tape measure and your growing hips.  Weight is harder to lose the older you get.

Believe in yourself and don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know, but do everything you can to learn what you need to know.  You will not have many people you can identify with because of your early motherhood, but don’t be discouraged.  Even though it seems like many of the people around you talk “down” to you, underneath they really do admire your courage and maturity.  They respect you and you should respect yourself.

God loves you.

Your love of reading will pay off, so keep on reading whatever you can get your hands on.

You will be a great mother.  Hug those babies as often as you think of it because truly, it is the blink of an eye.  You don't believe that now, and nothing I say will convince you of it and thats ok.  But look at those sweet faces whenever you get the chance, tell them how wonderful they are and pray for them always.  Cherish these days of young motherhood.

You will never love cleaning house so don’t even start beating yourself up over it.  Just because you accept Christ does not mean you automatically become a perfect housekeeper, so stop thinking something is wrong with you. You are no less of a woman because of it and there are many other things you will excel in.  In fact, soon you will get the revelation that the term “housewife” is demeaning and tell people that call you one that you are married to a man, not a house.  You go girl!

Your kids will grow up to be wonderful, gifted human beings.

You will have great friends.  Many of them will help you be a better mother.

It's ok to ask for help, don't always feel that you are stupid if you don't know something.  ALL mothers need help, not just 16 year old ones.  You are normal.

Right now, you still have some issues with your parents.  Even though you are married and have your own child, a part of you is still that rebellious teenager that does not want to be told what to do.  But one of these days, a light will go on and you will appreciate them more than you can ever imagine.  They are about as scared as a parent can be right now, wondering if you are going to make it.  But you will make them proud and will gain a new respect for them in the not too distant future.  They love you more than you can see right now, but one day you will understand.

You have a purpose...several in fact.  It's a wonderful journey discovering them all.

Exercise.  All the time, make it a way of life and learn to love it.

Fad diets don’t work...don’t even waste your time.

Sometimes life sucks so bad you want to ask God if He really knows what He is doing - go ahead, ask.  Tell Him how you really feel because He knows anyway.  He is not going to strike you dead for being honest, He is not going to be angry because you said the "wrong" thing.  He is so much more merciful than what you are being led to believe. Think of the love you feel for your daughter and multiply that by a number too large to imagine...that is how your heavenly Father feels about you.  After your rant, listen to what He has to say.  He loves you and wants to give you the desires of your heart.

Know that everything you go through, every experience you have will add to you.  God will use the good times and bad to teach you, strengthen you and bring you closer to Him.  Soak it all in, write it all down.  Those journals are your story and it is a grand story.  You will gain confidence over the years and one day will be able to tell your story and there will be no shame.  God has done marvelous things in your life and you are loved beyond what you have ever dreamed.

Keep going...the best is yet to come.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


It is said that confession is good for the soul. And I have one to unload. I really like the Dollar Store.

Many of you probably think, “And?” Why do you need to confess that?

Bill and I try very hard to be as locally minded, fair trade, fair wages and good for the environment as possible. What does that have to do with the “Dollar Store”? Well, maybe a lot. They now make things specifically for the Dollar Store, where years ago they were buy outs of last years products, overstocks and such. So to stock a lot of the stuff in a dollar store, people are working in a factory somewhere being paid to make things that only sell for a dollar...imagine what it actually costs to make them. Probably not the best wages, or the best products.

But last week I had occasion to go to the Dollar Store. I had a fundraising Gala to attend and needed new shoes to go with my outfit - which I had just purchased the day before the Gala - I know, not too bright, but shoe shopping is my least favorite thing to do. I have wide, flat feet and finding “pretty” shoes that fit and feel good does not happen easily.

I miraculously find a nice pair without too much stress and ended up buying two different colors (light gold and off white) of the same shoe to take home because I wanted to try them both with my dress (and get my daughter Shay’s advice on which color to choose). We chose the light gold ones, rather than the off white and I was actually kind of excited about wearing the shoes. I even purchased nail polish to match, thinking it would be a nice touch.

So, the morning of the event (Saturday) I wake up and enjoy the patio with coffee and my sweetie pie. It was a beautiful morning, cool and pleasant. We sat out there for about an hour and came in to have some steel cut oats for breakfast. As we walk through the dining room after breakfast, I take note of my dress laid out on the chair to be pressed. I want to show Bill my choice of shoes and my “accessories” (another Shay decision). Since I still have both colors of shoes, I also want to see if he would pick the color we did to go with the outfit.

I take the shoes out of the boxes and immediately he picks the light gold. I am relieved and decide to put them on to show him how they look. I put the left one on and fasten it. I put the right one on and...wait a minute...what’s up...I can’t...fit...my...foot...in...it. What!!!!??? I try again and I cannot fit my right foot in the shoe. Now, I swear I tried both shoes on in the store...but I pick up the right shoe to see if I have a different size. Nope, same as the left. Bill asks if I have been sitting on my feet (my favorite way to sit) and I say no, I don’t think so, but decide to sit for a few minutes, not on my feet, and see if it makes a difference. Try again. No go, this foot ain’t fitting in this shoe! It’s about 11 a.m. and the Gala starts at 6, so I figure I better get to DSW and see if I can correct this.

I get to the shoe store and explain my dilemma. One of the girls that I had chatted with the day before when I purchased the shoes was there and was very understanding and took me right over to where my shoes were. She looks for another 9M (I usually wear an 8, but that is also in sandals and flats, not heels) but there are none. However, she finds a 10 and I try it on. It actually feels pretty good, although it is a bit loose at the heel and I will have to punch another hole in the straps to correct this. The woman tells me the best way to punch a clean hole in the strap is with a dental tool that has a pick on the end of it (the thing they use to scrape plaque off your teeth). She says you can get one at Meijer for a few bucks. I thank her for the advice, exchange the shoes, return the off white ones for credit and I am on my way.

The DSW is on the south side of South Bend in a complex with a bunch of other stores, one of them being “The Dollar Store”. Now, I have not been in one for quite some time, for the afore mentioned reasons. But as I think of this little dental tool I was told about, realizing it will probably cost a few bucks, I look up and see the store in front of me and think “Hey, the Dollar Store probably has one”. So, off I go.

As soon as I walk in, I feel kind of comfortable - which surprises me. I take note of this and wonder why I feel that way.  All around me is just about anything you could ever need...and each item is only a dollar - or less! Even the smell of the store is kind of comforting and familiar...I don’t know if I can really describe it...nice plastic or something like that. It is the combined smell of a million different sundries all mixed together. It just puts me at ease. I know I am going to find something to work for the job of punching a hole in my strap. I decide I am not going to dilly dally though, so I head for the toothpaste aisle. But wait...what’s this? A display of back to school items that has magnetic dry erase boards....for only a dollar! Since it is magnetic, I could hang it on the side of my fridge and use it to make grocery lists and write notes. I used to have one but it was not magnetic and I had it rigged up kind of goofy on the fridge and it was forever falling down - and I had paid a lot more than a dollar for it. I have to have this one. I pick it up and continue on towards the dental aisle.

I find it and start down the row. The wall is lined with tooth paste, tooth brushes and such. But right across from that, on the left side, is make up and manicure supplies. Now, I don’t buy cheap make up anymore, as I have learned my lesson on that. But eye liner jumps out at me and I stop to look at it. I don’t use it often, so my pencils tend to get dried up or lost in some abyss between uses. I think I might want to have some for tonight’s event, so I look at them. Now, the thought does cross my mind that I might not want to put something on my face that only costs a dollar, but then notice that it is a brand name eye liner, so I figure it’s just discontinued shades or something like that. As I try to make my choice, I think I know why they are in the dollar store - no where on the package is there a color listed, only on the pencil, which of course is tiny and depending on how it sits in the package, almost unreadable. I am able to see the color on a couple and make my choice. Now if it dries up or gets lost, hey, I have only spent a dollar. And next to those are lip liner pencils...another thing I rarely use, but I like the color and its another brand name, so I pick one of those up.

I bring myself back to task, turn around and scan the dental selections on the other side of the aisle. I gaze through the tooth paste as well, just to see if my favorite brand is there, but am reminded that they found some kind of poison or something a while back in dollar store toothpaste, and even though the one I use is a brand name, I forget about buying that (which they don't have anyway). I continue looking and no dental tools. Paste, brushes, dental floss, but no dental tools. Damn. But hey, there are lots of other things to punch a hole with, so I don’t give up. I just turn back around to the other side of the aisle where the manicure supplies are. Here they have whole manicure kits for only a dollar. Many of them have little pointy scissors with tiny ends on them and I think...well those will work. I have a pair at home, but they cost more than a dollar and I am not sure I want to dull them with my shoe strap, so I pick out a kit from the 4 or 5 choices and am sure I have found what I need. I continue down the aisle and there are soaps, lotions, shower caps...so many things! I pick up some “Yardley” lavender soap and smell it...mmmmm. I notice the “Tone” cocoa butter soap and pick it up. The smell of original tone soap brings back a kind of nice memory for me from years ago, so I smell that as well. However, the memory is not one I need to be dwelling on, so I put it back in the bin.

Now, I have what I came for, plus 2, so I should be good, right? But it won’t hurt to look a bit more will it...there is just so much to see! So I peruse a bit more. Oh look, those cool super absorbent hair towel turban thingies! I have one, but it is small, so it does not fit my hair any longer, since it now grows beyond my shoulders. I pick it up and look at the picture on the box, which promises lots of twirl room, so I have to get it.

There are only 4 things in my hand now, and I still have a bit more time, so I decide to walk around. Oh, there are the wine glasses...a favorite of mine. Several times in my travels out of town, I have hit a dollar store to get some real wine glasses to use, and then leave behind. Wine always tastes better in a real wine glass (wine in plastic is the devils idea) and I rarely travel anywhere that wine is not involved. I am forever breaking mine, so it doesn’t hurt to have a few extras. I look over what they have and resist the temptation to buy. They are pretty nice, but the stems are a bit thicker than I like, so I move along. I look down the food aisle, but don’t go down it. I am still pretty convinced that I don’t want anything from the dollar store that I am going to ingest, so its not too hard to pass it by. Most of the food is crap anyway, and I am trying to be good.

Oh, but look, there are nylons! I don’t wear those very often, but it is nice to have an extra pair around, so I check those out. I pick out a pair that are control top ones, because they are nice to have to “smooth things out a bit”. On my way through the aisle, I remember I need light bulbs, so I detour to that aisle. Most of our lights now carry the compact fluorescent bulbs, which I hate, but I understand their value and purpose. But, for reading, they just don’t give me enough light, so I have a couple lamps I use the old bulbs in. I pick up a package of 75 watters and I am on my way again.

I head towards the checkout, but decide to take one more look at the manicure stuff. They have the 3 way buffers, that I like (file, smooth and shine) so I pick one of those up, as well as a regular emery board. Ok, now I am up to 8 items...all cradled in my arms, as I took no cart or basket when I came in (because I was just wanting that one thingy to poke a hole in my shoe strap). Oh, and there is a “smudger” brush for my newly purchased eyeliner. So 9 items...

I get to the check out (which is packed) and wait my turn. The nice clerk rings me up...“That will be $10.70”. Hmmm..that means I have 10 items...what else did I pick up? I don’t recall but I am sure she is correct and pay the money and head home.

When I get home I get the shoes out to show Bill and thankfully they BOTH fit my feet. I explain my need for an extra hole and that I have carefully selected a tool to do that and pretty please will you take care of it for me...but he does not see the need. “They look good” he says. He can tell by the look on my face I don’t agree and tells me he will punch a hole if I really want him to and yes of course I really want him to because I have just spent $10 getting a tool that costs a dollar to punch a hole! I continue to get ready in another room and leave him to the task, which he does, and they look great.

I use several of my dollar store supplies to ready myself for the evening. We attend our Gala and all goes beautifully.  We have a wonderful time, although my feet are killing me by the end of the evening as they are not used to wearing anything higher than a shoe sole. But it was worth it.

This now concludes my confession of being a secret dollar store junkie. I really did not think I was until I walked back into the store and realized I had missed it. I am hoping that I have not stirred something that cannot be reasonably controlled. You know what is the funniest thing about all of this? This morning, before Bill left for work I read my story to him and the first thing he said was...“Did you check to make sure you had 10 items” and the next was “I didn’t use the scissors, I used a safety pin”. Laughter is good for the soul too....