The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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Nothing quite perks up my day like seeing the little yellow notification icon at the top of my WordPress dashboard letting me know I have a new comment. (I love comments, by the way.) So when I saw it was from Jammie, an incredible woman I met at a writing conference recently, I was even more excited. Then, when I saw she was notifying me that she’d given me an award, I peed myself! (Ok, not really, but wasn’t that more interesting than saying I got even more excited?) :-)

Here’s the thing. Jammie’s reason for giving me the award meant the world to me. She said, “I met Cat at a writer’s retreat and fell in love with her ability to tell her emotional story.  Go tell it on the mountain, Cat!” Oh I will, sister. I will. (Read Eric’s Story here.)

Rules for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award: Thank the person who nominated me. Share seven things about myself. Nominate seven other bloggers for this award. Put the logo of the award on my blog site. Post the rules. Let your seven picks know they are nominated.

via The Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Here’s where I get to practice narcissism for a bit with seven supposedly interesting things about me:

1. Growing up, I was convinced I would marry Prince William someday. Thanks for screwing that up Kate!

2. I was terrified of aliens when I was younger. So scared, I would only call them “A’s.”

3. The first thing I ever said to my husband was, “Hey, clean my boots.” (We worked at a western wear store together. He’s been putting up with my crap ever since.)

4. I’ve never seen The Godfather.

5. I like fake crab better than the real deal.

6. I can work a runway like nobody’s business.

7. I sometimes lie on the floor in my daughter’s bedroom and listen to the sound of her breathing in her sleep. :-)

Now, here’s the fun part. I get to pay it forward to seven bloggers who inspire me! Here we go:

1. Momma to Five Little Monkeys: Here’s the sad part. This aspiring blogger had to stop blogging because her laptop crashed. They’re having financial and medical complications, and she can’t replace it. Her writing is good, and now she has no outlet other than Twitter. I wish I had an extra computer to send her!

2. Creative Devolution: Okay, you know that part I said about peeing my pants from excitement? Well, I probably have peed while laughing at this blogger’s posts. Hi-lar-i-ous!

3. The Momalog: What can I say? Ado blends her emotional journey of family alcoholism with the joyous adventures of raising two amazing daughters so well. She’s been a personal and professional mentor.

4. Amy Renee Leiker: She’s a self-professed “grammar geek” and I need all the help I can get. Good stuff here. :-)

5. The Reedster Speaks: Have I ever mentioned that laughter is my favorite anxiety medication? My doc told me to read two of this blogger’s posts a day and call her in the morning. She’s funny, yet can be serious when necessary.

6. Pohlkotte Press: This blogger’s post, “And For Tonight,” perfectly captures the feeling of coming home late after a night out on the town when you’re a mom of young children. It’s amazing.

7. Judy Lee Dunn: She blogs about blogging–genius! She has been a constant source of best practices, useful tips and much-needed inspiration. I can’t thank her enough.

So there you have it. I had to whittle my list down to seven, which was hard to do. Check out their blogs and pass on the love!

And here’s what really inspires me the most. My family.

It wasn’t really about the birds and the bees…

He was an awesome big brother for so many reasons (besides rockin’ big frames just like his kid sister).

“Catherine, we need to talk. You know, sometimes, when you see the cats in the yard, and it looks like they’re wrestling on top of each other? Well, they’re not really wrestling. They’re…”

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…He is NOT talking to me about this! I can’t believe this is happening. This is so embarrassing. Don’t look at him. Just look down. Pretend this isn’t happening. Think about something else. ANYTHING else. 

When my older brother Eric sat me down to have the “birds and the bees” talk at the age of 12, I was mortified. Actually, there has to be a stronger word for my emotion. I wanted to disappear. An avid Star Trek fan, I never so badly wanted teleportation to be an option as I did at that moment. Somebody freakin’ beam me up! My face was hot, my body was numb, my heart pitter-pattering wildly in my prepubescent chest. And I remember being angry. What gave him the right?! Besides, I already knew all about the  technicality of sex. I had an older best friend who’d already filled me in on every graphic detail, although I think she said you could get pregnant from kissing. So glad she wasn’t right about that.

There are only a few things I remember from that encounter, besides feeling completely embarrassed. I remember the drops of dried milk (or some other food substance) that were caked between the ridges on the side of our dining room table. As I sat there, head down, trying to mentally escape the awkward conversation I was being subjected to, I began scraping the white film off with my thumbnail. I can still remember running my thumb down that ridge, letting the gunk that had accumulated over the years build up under my nail, scraping it out, and starting over again. I remember being grateful that nobody had ever thought to clean there, as it gave me something to focus on.

I also remember the end of the conversation, after he’d said vague things about waiting until marriage, finding someone you love, God’s plan, etc. He was sitting on my left side, across the corner of the table. He gently touched my left forearm and said, “Catherine, you need to look at me and listen. If anyone ever touches you in a bad way, you have to tell someone. Tell mom, tell dad, tell me, tell somebody. It’s not okay. You have to tell someone, ok?  Has anyone ever done this?”

“No,” I stammered. At this point, I don’t think I’d ever even kissed a boy, so my innocence was fairly in tact. I did consider telling him about the boy who showed me his penis in daycare before I was even in kindergarten. No, I didn’t think that counted. “No,” I said again, “Nothing like that has happened.”

Looking back now, I realize the enormity of that moment. My mother has no recollection of ever having asked Eric to carry out this task. I mean, how many 12-year-old girls want to get the sex talk from their older brother? No, he chose to do this on his own. It had to have been just as awkward for him, if not more, than it was for me. But he loved me enough to try and protect me. He didn’t want the same things that had happened to him to happen to me. He was 12 when he was molested, the same age I was when we had that talk. I’m so glad he was brave enough to speak those words to me. I only wish he’d been able to speak them to himself.

If you haven’t yet had “the talk” with the children you love, don’t wait. I’ve already talked with my three-year-old daughter about “good touch” and “bad touch.” No, this won’t  prevent her from ever being victimized, but I hope it plants a seed in her mind that if she is, it isn’t her fault. Yes, it’s an awkward conversation to have, but they’ll appreciate it later, whether you know it or not.

…………

Read more about Eric’s Story

One thing leads to another…

I can SO relate to this. (from cafemom.com)

Playing…leads to…stealing…leads to…screaming…leads to…pushing…leads to… refereeing…leads to…hugging…leads to…biting…leads to…crying…leads to…scolding…leads to…more crying…leads to…feeding…leads to…flinging…leads to…cleaning…leads to…bathing…leads to…splashing…leads to…whining…leads to…more crying…leads to…Googling “at-home vasectomy.”

If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry, so might as well find the funny!

Don’t Underestimate Your Emotional Backstory

Olympic Judo hopeful Kayla Harrison is an incredible athlete. Her strength and skill have propelled her to the top of her sport, and earned her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in London. But according to this NPR segment, she’s sometimes frustrated at the motives behind the bright spotlight:

“Do I wish that everyone would just talk about how, you know, awesome I am — and how I could be America’s first gold medalist? Yes, I wish that,” she says. “But America wants that comeback kid story. They want the person who overcame obstacles to reach their goals. And I fit that bill pretty well.”

I’ll let you read the article to find out the obstacles Kayla is speaking of. If she’d rather have more attention focused on her atheleticism than her emotional backstory, I fully support her. After all, I can somewhat understand how she feels. You want people to recognize your succeses, and see them as purely that, success. Not success despite obstacles, just success.

Kayla’s perspective really has me thinking about my own emotional backstory. It’s a doozy, afterall. While I haven’t exactly hidden my dark experiences (and have been openly sharing them), I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be known for anything else. Am I ok with that?

I’ve been amazed at the stories others have privately shared with me while I’ve been on this journey to unpacking Eric’s story. They share stories of abuse, addiction, dysfunction, mental illness, and many other difficult situations. The one thing that has surprised me the most? How quick people are to say, ‘Well, it’s nothing like what you’ve been through.” They underestimate their own emotional backstories. I truly believe that we’re all dealt a relatively similar amount of trauma throughout our lives, whether it be a deep, narrow wound or a constant scratching of the surface that leaves you in constant discomfort. Which is worse, losing a loved one in a sudden, tragic accident, or spending a lifetime in a loveless, abusive marriage? Both probably bring the same amount of pain, they’re just distributed differently.

Don’t underestimate your pain. Don’t think for a second that what you’ve been through doesn’t matter. It absolutely does. It’s helped make you who you are, for better or worse. Hopefully, you can channel that into something positive, as Kayla has. Just knowing what your story is, and telling it to others walking down the same path can be a tremendous testimony. And if you haven’t found a way to do that yet, you will.

I’ve never been more proud of my daughter.

She didn’t know all of the words. She couldn’t keep up with all of the choreography. Her sundress was stained down the front, and none of the other kids were wearing cowboy boots. But my daughter shined. In my eyes, there was nobody else on stage. It was her first time performing for a public audience, and I was mesmerized.

Afraid she would run to me if I caught her eye, I tried to hide in the large auditorium. But seeing her eyes frantically dart around the room for me, I stood up and waved. She beamed. Above the din of the crowd and kids, I heard her yell, “My mommy! My mommy came!” As much as I try to avoid cliches, I can’t this time. My heart swelled with pride. Filled my chest cavity and made tears well up in my eyes. Happy, joyful, proud tears. That’s my girl on stage. My girl. She was happy, confident and carefree. In her tiny little world, everything was ok. She was with friends, and singing about God. I want her to stay this way forever.

(She’s the third from the left in the back row, with the blonde pig tails. :-)