31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 27: Wear Something Pretty

beautiful womanIt’s a chicken-and-egg kind of thing: Do we feel good when we look good, or do we make more effort to look good when we feel good? Maybe it’s a symbiotic kind of relationship.

I will tell you this: For the past several weeks when I’ve woken up, I’ve been so sore I could barely roll out of bed and into a pair of sweats. One of the perks of working from home, I guess. But after a night on a new-to-me featherbed, I jumped out of bed, showered and slathered on my favorite face cream, and put on a GOOD work outfit. Yes, just to stay home.

And I feel … great!

I’ve been thinking about my mother, who has been in a hospital for the past two weeks. She doesn’t want to be there, but she can’t go home yet. This morning I’ve been thinking about how to help, eight hundred miles removed, and I remembered a time when I was in the hospital after my car accident (I was 18), and someone unexpectedly lifted my spirits.

Crabtree & EvelynThree weeks in bed will leave anyone a bit grumpy. One day my friend’s mother surprised me with a visit. She had a basin and several large plastic bags. “Let’s get you cleaned up,” she smiled. Arranging the bags underneath my shoulders and torso, and the basin under my head, she washed my hair and shaved my legs, then slathered on Crabtree and Evelyn body lotion. (The scent of gardenias still makes me smile.) Finally, she did my nails and makeup.

Thirty years later, I still remember her kindness.

And now, remembering that day, I know just how much it will help my own mother, to feel like her beautiful self.(For those who need a little bedside beauty, try this portable wash basin!) bed wash basin

If you’re feeling stressed out and grumpy, maybe it’s time for you to primp and pamper yourself a bit. Wear something beautiful — a pretty scarf, a soft sweater, a new pair of shoes. It won’t change the journey … but it might just put a spring in your step!

Photo Credit: “Always” by Stella Im Hultberg, from “Smashing” magazine’s “50 Beautiful Feminine Illustrations”.

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A Mother’s Faith

This morning at 3:00 I woke up, angry. I stared at the ceiling, railing over circumstances beyond my control. Over a justice system in which there is no justice for those who need it most. Over the helplessness of being unable to protect or defend a twelve-year-old boy from the powers that be. I wonder, Blessed Mother . . . Is this how it felt for you to stand beneath the cross?

My stomach was in knots. I got up and went to the dining hall for a cup of tea. Then I vented in an angry email to my dear husband. That didn’t make me feel better, so I went back to bed and punched a pillow.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I didn’t know my roommate, apart that she was an elderly woman who has a healing ministry. “I’m good at listening,” she said.

She was right. She listened. And passed me a tissue. And listened some more. And asked if she could pray. And then, she spoke, gently and calmly.

First, she stood against the powers of anger and fear and helplessness. That last one really got me … for that is what had me in its grip. Then she asked the Blessed Mother to wrap my son in her mantle, so he would feel his mother’s love and protection. And she asked Michael to ward off the evil forces that are tormenting him.

In that moment, I felt the anger melt away, and my heart grow light.

“Talk to him now,” she said. “Talk to your son. Even though you are not biologically related, you are connected to him spiritually in a powerful way, and your angel speaks to his angel. He can feel you with him, and he can receive message in his spirit from you. Speak to him now — I’ll leave you in peace.”

And so I did. I spoke to him, heart to heart, in the privacy of that room. I realized, in that moment, that part of what I was feeling was undoubtedly Christopher’s pain and fear and anger. Ginny affirmed this. “And when you feel those things, ask the Blessed Mother to take them to her Son . . . and to transform them into love and peace, to send back to your son. God chose you as the mother of those children. He has given you everything you need to take care of them. All you have to do is ask.”

And so, on this first day in the Year of Faith, I held out my hand . . . and asked for the miracle I needed.

What miracle do you need today?

A Prayer for Motherly Courage

Karen at “Be Still My Soul” shares this touching account of a young woman, Myah, whose preborn daughter was diagnosed with anencephaly — a congenital and fatal birth defect.

The story itself is bittersweet. Instead of “terminating the pregnancy,” this young woman decided to share whatever time they had together out of simple love for her daughter. (I also appreciated Karen’s advice to all women of childbearing years to make sure they have enough folic acid in their diet, to prevent this kind of tragedy.)

Today I’d like to offer this prayer for frightened mothers (including those whose children are not yet born), that God would give them the courage to hold on to their children with faith, hope, and love … for as long as they are together.

St. Elizabeth Seton, patronness of dying children, observed:

“We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.”

St. Elizabeth Seton, pray for us!

Mighty Mom Mondays: Lessons Grandma Taught Me

As is our custom here at EMN, Sarah has chimed in with her weekly post of wisdom and took this month’s EMN Carnival on extraordinary moms to a whole new level! To catch more of Mighty Mom, go to her blog “My Wonderful Life.” Thank you, Sarah!!!

 

My Grandma taught me …

To speak softly and carry a big jar of cookies.

The amount of time it takes to put on a pair of knee-highs and keds is exactly equal to the amount of time it takes to start a conversation that’ll last all day.

There is never any reason to be jealous, for you will always have a special place in the heart of someone who loves you, a place that no one else can ever take.

Homemade pickles taste better.

The best beginning to any sentence is “Say, how’s so and so doing (or such and such going) these days?”

How to handle walking in on two kids (my brother and cousin) after they’ve used the wheel of your stationary bike to grind an entire package of cheetos into a big pile of dust…on your white carpet….”Well, you’ve been having fun!”

Talking about your hurts doesn’t make them go away, but focusing on your happys will make the hurts smaller.

Rolls can be bought frozen ….but cookies must be made from scratch.

Every morning when you wake up, you decide if you’re going to have a good day.

Make each child feel as if he or she is your favorite. (This from a woman with 5 kids and 11 grandkids.) 

Putting a lit match behind your teeth only makes you look like a jack-o-lantern if you have a really big smile (she did).

You can get glad in the same shoes you got mad in.

Spraying perfume on your grandchildren’s homemade yarn flowers makes them “just like real.”

Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds you up or polishes you up depends on what you’re made of.

EMN Carnival: Thanks, Mom!

Congratulations to Kate Wicker, who presents the winning entry for this month’s EMN “Moms we love” contest! Her entry, entitled My Nana, is posted at Momopoly. In my favorite bit in the post, Kate recalls asking her grandmother “how she did it.”

“Did what?” Nana asked.

“Had nine kids,” I said. Like duh.

“Oh honey, if God gives you rabbits, He gives you grass,” was her response.

Clearly, Nana was of the God Family Planning mindset. God plans families; couples don’t.

Lori in “Dakotacityquilter” writes: “My mother taught me to accept gifts graciously and always thank the giver–whether it was something we wanted or not!!  And she told me to always hug my kids, she thought she wasn’t a “good mother” as she was always busy and working and didn’t hug us enough.  Hey Mom–you were the best!!”

At “Mommy Monsters,” yours truly offers a tribute of a different kind at “Ghosts of Mothers Past.”

I’d also like to alert you to one of my all-time favorite mother tributes, which I’m reviewing for “Secretum Meum Mihi,” entitled The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less . As I mentioned in my newsletter, I find Evelyn Ryan (the subject of the book and the author’s mother) a truly Extraordinary Mom. She raised 10 children — and upheld her vows before God in a truly difficult marriage — with an amazing combination of faith and tenacity.  Why not order the book now, and give it to your favorite “mommy bookworm” for Christmas?

Lastly, a few posts came through the transom that didn’t really “fit” the theme of this particular carnival, but I’m including them here — lots of good advice for those who need it!

Julie at “More4Kids Parenting and Family” contributed a helpful post for families with children with ADD/ADHD. Along with “Don’t answer when someone asks if your child has taken his meds that day — remind them that everyone has good and bad days,” these four pointers will give you a taste of her helpful, practical advice!

  1. Improve the organization within the home. Order is will help decrease distractions.
  2. Set a regular schedule. This will help your child know when to expect certain things such as “quiet time,” breakfast, lunch and dinner, bedtime, wake up time, practice.
  3. When you or your family talks with your child, make sure that you are making eye contact with the child.
  4. If your child has a list of chores to do, give them one chore at a time and let them complete it before giving them the next. After all, it is a problem with attention we are talking about. Sending them to their room to clean it won’t work. They will go in and start to pick up something and then they start playing with it.

For those who are struggling to cope with a child’s diagnosis of autism, Michelle at “Autism Assistance” sent “Creating an Autism Intervention Action Plan.”

“Therapydoc” at “Everyone Needs Therapy” contributed “Pull versus Draw: Enmeshment” with the observation: “The best moms are the ones that know when to let go, who have the faith in themselves that they’ve taught their kids well enough to think for themselves.”

Thanks to all those who joined this month’s carnival!

Calling all Extraordinary Moms… That’s You!

Founder of the Extraordinary Moms Network (EMN)

The simple truth is that every child thinks Mom is extraordinary. Whether that child comes to us the conventional way, or through adoption, or foster care, or some other way. Your presence is what teaches that child about love, about goodness, about kindness, about truth. You ARE those things to your child … and to all the children in whose lives you invest.

Pope John Paul II used to talk about the “feminine genius,” and frequently quoted the Council Fathers of Vatican II who contended that “Women imbued with the Spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.” By our very nature, women have gifts and abilities that are distinctively feminine. We relate differently, both to one another and to God. And that is a good thing.

This website is dedicated in a special way to “Extraordinary Moms” Moms who devote themselves to their families (often but not always large families) to a remarkable degree. And Moms who are “extraordinary” in the sense that (like an “extraordinary” Eucharistic minister) they come alongside the “ordinary” mother and help her raise that child in God’s name.

Adoptive and foster mothers, godmothers and favorite aunts, even teachers and religious education instructors! For each of us has a God-given job to do … and in the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (a great patron of adoptive and foster families), “God does not call the equipped; He equips those who respond to the call.”

This website is for all women who need encouragement to live out their vocations as fully as God wants them to. There are resources for all kinds of EMs … those with big families and small ones, those who struggle with infertility and who wish they weren’t quite so fertile, those who long for children … and those who are considering, perhaps for the very first time, whether the child who is meant for them has already been born and is waiting for them. Those who are happily married, and those who carry on alone.

So let’s share our experiences … let’s help each other. If you’re considering adoption and are looking for more information, especially about foster-adoption, feel free to check out my adoption blog “Mommy Monsters.” For now, let’s begin, as we begin every good thing, by calling on the Father of us all!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth
As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
Those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.