Archives For Awareness

I have been told by several of my well-intentioned female friends over the years that spa days are necessary. I will never argue that a day of pampering doesn’t feel amazing, but I generally feel guilty spending money on myself in an effort to relax and recharge.

Last week I played a little sand volleyball. Anyone who has known me for more than a handful of years knows that I love playing that sport, even though my vertical jump and reactionary speed are all but nonexistent these days.

Perhaps the only thing I’d rank higher in terms of recreational enjoyment than my love of sand volleyball is my love of sleep. Again, all of my friends know (and tease me about) this. I’ve required a restful night of shut eye ever since I was a child.

Whereas some people can survive on five hours of sleep a night, I require more like nine in order to function. The good news is I’ve never been much of a partier/night owl so catching extra those zzzz’s has rarely been an issue.

Put it this way: If I had to take one survival item with me on any of the survivor-type reality shows, I’d be hard pressed to think anything would be more useful than a good set of ear plugs.

Why do I spill these seemingly unrelated personality quirks? Because one person cares about, dare I say honors, all of them more than anyone else. My mom.

I’m at a stage in my life right now where I have an equal amount of friends who still have their moms around as compared to those who do not. And every time I learn about another person, especially a woman young or old, learning to live without their mom, it makes me appreciate even more all the ways mine has supported and nurtured me.

When my mom learned about how late I would be playing sand volleyball last week at a sports bar incredibly close to her and my dad’s home as well as my work (but extremely far away from my own home that I share with my loving and loud family), she offered up a simple question, “Would you like to just stay the night at our place after your games?”

((record scratch))

WOULD I?! I thought.

“Well, yeah, if you don’t mind. That would be awesome.” I replied.

Spa Home

Here are all of the reasons why I have no shame in my spa game at mom and dad’s place:

  1. Their house – thanks in large part to my mom – feels like a page out of a magazine, where wind chimes are singing their melodies while soft breezes are blowing and time takes its time. I’ve never known it to be messy or disheveled, which incidentally are the two words I’d use to best describe the 15 hours of my average waking day.
  2. Snack time at 10 p.m. Guys, my mom had a sandwich prepared for me as I walked in their front door after my game. But she waited to put on the lettuce and tomato because she “didn’t want the bread to get soggy.” At this point, we might as well have been John and Ray Kinsella in her Field of Dreams kitchen with me posing the question, “Is this heaven?” and her answering, “It’s you reliving your childhood.”
  3. Fresh towels. I showered before going to bed and wrapped myself in ultra soft comfort to dry off. As I took in a deep breath of gratitude, I wondered how my mom keeps her towels feeling and smelling so wonderful. Towels in my own home, even freshly washed and straight out of the dryer, feel scratchy and smell like where you don’t want to be.
  4. Open windows. Three out of the four people I share my own home with prefer air conditioning approximately eight months out of the year. The other four months are basically the dead of winter in Nebraska. As I pulled down the sheets of the perfectly made bed that magical evening at mom and dad’s house, and collapsed into total comfort, I felt the fresh outside air snaking its way into the room on an unseasonably and refreshingly cool evening in July.
  5. Peace and quiet. Not once did I have to threaten teenage boys to take away Fortnite if they didn’t stop yelling during their games. Not once did I have to tell their sister to turn down YouTube. Not once did I have to nudge my snoring husband. Not once did I hear the dog barking. Not once did I move after I fell asleep.
  6. No group consensus required. I ate when I wanted. Fell asleep when I wanted. Took up as much room as I wanted. Woke up when I wanted.
  7. Freshly prepared breakfast. Cut up fruit, baked blueberry muffins, and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yes, I am the youngest child.
  8. Full toilet paper rolls. No additional explanation needed.

It wasn’t until I was a mom myself did I realize how hard the gig can be. As with most things in life, experience breeds appreciation and understanding.

My mom has told me many times that she doesn’t know how I do it. The full-time job, the shuffling activity calendars, the coaching, the rushing around, the holding it all together, the everything. And I only need one night with her to realize that all of the “stuff” I do pales in comparison to what she does…which is to make every person who comes into their house truly feel as if they are home. And can exhale.

Thank you, Mom. For this. For everything.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Advertisements

Life is full of ups and downs. Have you ever stopped to consider if either extreme is within your control?

I’ve lived long enough to know that I’ve lost some of my naiveness from younger years. I believe that life will naturally take its twists and turns and, the majority of the time, we are simply along for the ride.

Yes, we can choose to concentrate on development and eliminate distractions to put ourselves in the best position to learn and evolve. Yes, we can make time for and really listen to those around us in order to build better relationships. Yes, we can make daily choices in order to solidify better habitual patterns.

Yet life doesn’t always go according to one’s plan. You expect the fast ball. You get the curve.

So believing this to be true, I struggle sometimes with my conflicting desire to try to be in control of the uncontrollable.

I want to be seen as a top achiever, as having a firm grip on life, as being compassionate and present in the moment. I want to be seen as trustworthy and able to be relied upon. I hope by controlling “x” in my life, then “y” will naturally result.

The problem with wanting to be seen though is that you need to first answer the question, “Why do I want to be seen?”

There is a big difference between giving off the illusion of having what society deems is “it all” – prestige, power, influence, health, wealth, and happiness – versus what gives you a sense of purposefulness when you are alone with your thoughts. One is a facade, the other is truth.

Why do I want to be seen?

I want to be seen to know that I matter to others. To know that I am of value to them. To know that I make their life happier.

Fortunately for me, my scope of “others” is relatively small. My “others” are also generous in doling out their gratitude. My family in first place, friends and confidants second, creativity sharers third, and so on and so forth. Believing that God sees me in my truest form, I know I am trying to do right by Him too of course.

I believe I originally embraced blogging and other forms of social media sharing as a creative outlet. I love expressing myself through writing. Selfishly, it feels good to know that others find value in what I choose to write about.

However, the social media sharing world from when I first began back in 2009 has spiraled into what I can best describe as social sabotage in less than 10 years time.

I’ve seen people fight about posts and pictures. I’ve seen relationships I once thought were solid fall by the wayside. I’ve seen people needing to be right more than needing to be understood. I’ve seen people (young and old) not wanting to miss out online, while inadvertently ignoring what’s waiting for them to discover in real life.

And while I’ve been watching all of this unfold on screen, real life had a way of moving on in all of its inherent beauty. That’s the funny thing about life. It happens with or without you noticing sometimes.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes recently that talked about people’s reliance on their smartphones and how Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps, and social media to get you hooked. Here’s a snip-it I highly encourage you to watch.

In this episode, Anderson Cooper interviewed former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris along with several other guests. Tristan left Google to lead a movement called Time Well Spent, with a mission of aligning technology with humanity.  I would also encourage you to read his most widely read essay How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist.

The information that Tristan shares in his interview as well as in his writing escalates that icky feeling I experience anytime I have my own nose buried in my phone or I see those whom I love doing the same.

My blog posts are fewer and farther between these days. And that is intentional.

I will continue to write. I still want to share (overshare?). I still want you to read what I have to say. I still want to hear from you.

But more important than any of those things, I want to start seeing more and being seen less.

Do you feel the same way?

What can we discover together, yet not feel compelled to share with each other?

Life is most breathtaking when it is unfiltered, with no clever captions, and uncontrolled.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I have been attempting to soak up the unusually warm temps as of late by walking.

My walks used to be filled with pets and little people, but more often than not nowadays, I walk with only my thoughts keeping me company.

My thoughts and, because I like to chat, other people I discover along the way.

To the older couple sitting on the bench together: Although I only met eyes with the husband while the wife lovingly tended to their dog on her lap, I am glad you smiled and waved back. I realize you didn’t see me at first while I watched you both looking at each other and talking about what I’d like to believe were days gone by. Living with growing confusion and disdain around how so many people have their noses in their phones and are so distracted. Wondering how everyone could voluntarily ignore such beauty all around them because they are too preoccupied with keeping track of how others are capturing their moments online.

But not you. You were choosing to remain focused on what was important, WHO was important, together. And I simply thought that was awesome.

To the young couple walking every which direction following one child while simultaneously pushing your baby around in a stroller: Oh do I remember those walks. Way back when, I can’t say I was too fond of those walks. Because there was more wandering than walking. More whining than appreciating. More sweating than soaking in the sun.

Today, however, I felt a tinge of sadness while watching you. Knowing that my children weren’t stressing me out on my walk because, well, they weren’t with me on my walk. Yes, had I asked any of them to, they would have accompanied dear old mom, but there would be no wandering off to play in the creek or swing on the weeping willow branches because they are growing out of such things.

What do the parenting experts say? You are doing something right if you feel like your kid can make solid independent choices without you. What they don’t tell you in any parents’ guide is that seeing your child make independent choices doesn’t always make your heart swell with pride. Sometimes that realization makes your heart ache for days gone by. Days when you pushed the inconsolable baby in the stroller while chasing down a wild toddler.

To the neighborhood kid who always says hi and acts wiser and friendlier than most adults: I love the fact that you warmly welcome conversation. I am amazed by your life’s journey even at the tender age of 11. As the son of an airman, you’ve seen far more of this world than I have. You acknowledged how different it is to live in the Midwest rather than on the coast. It makes me smile to hear how you are looking forward to playing catcher this summer and why you like that position more than pitching, and how you’ll be painting your nails in neon so your guy can see the right signals.

I hope you enjoyed the movie you were so anxious to see this afternoon. And I wish you luck this baseball season.

To the strangers on my walk today, don’t be a stranger.

Written by Heidi Woodard