By “hanging on,” I mean I have a white-knuckled, iron-fisted death grip on those jeans. And by “skinny jeans,” I am not referring to the fashion piece; I’m talking about my I-need-to-lose-ten-pounds-before-I-can- t-in-them- again skinny jeans. Know what I mean?
My family is sitting second row for a Clemson home game. I knew it was going to be noisy. I expected it. But, there’s a man behind us who knows everything and won’t stop yelling into the back of my head. Part of me wishes he’d just put on a jersey and show us all how the game should be played. And just when I don’t think he can get any more obnoxious—he does. The refs make a few bad calls against our beloved team, and he loses it! “What’s wrong with you, ref?” Then—at the top of his lungs—he yells a long-winded “Boooo!” at every play for the rest of the game. I agree with his assessment, but I’m more irritated with Mr. Boo Fan than the refs because he’s keeping me from appreciating my second-row seats!
There’s nothing wrong with telling entertaining stories or developing good conversational skills. But if we want to take our friendships deeper, we have to do away with conversational monologues. Friends want a two-way conversation with you; they don’t want to be talked at, but to. Are you any different? You want people to listen and try to understand you, right?
When I was a schoolgirl, I remember thinking, “If those people liked me I’d be popular, important, find a boyfriend, and fit in.” The combination of a social life at school and entertainment on the weekends taught me that friendships existed to meet my emotional needs or make me popular. I thought an ideal friend would always listen and never disagree because I dreaded conflict. She would share all of my likes and none of my dislikes because then we’d always love hanging out. She would always lift me up and never drain me because then I’d always go home happy.
My boys and I are cuddled on the couch with the book everyone says we have to read, The Giving Tree. Before I start, I make sure the book is completely centered because reading at their age is all about the pictures. “Okay guys! Everyone says this book is ah-ma-zing, so let’s take every- one’s word for it and read it today!”
- Corn or Sunflower Maze or if you do don't like mazes, just go for the fun photos!
- Apple picking is the best. Then you can make homemade apple sauce, cinnamon apple oatmeal, apple pie, or snack on apples and peanut butter, my personal favorite.
- Leaf piles! I used to rake leaves into piles for my kids to jump into. They loved it when they were little. If your kids are big like mine, use it as an outreach to rake an older (or super busy) person’s yard.
- Dress up your dog in a costume and take pics...or just laugh as he tries to get out of it.
- Take a drive in the mountains and ask your girlfriend to marry you. 😍 Clayton proposed to me on the top of a mountain in Lineville Gorge in October on peak leaf season. Best day ever!!
- Camping in the fall is perfect. Bonfires, s’mores, hiking, canoeing....sounds like heaven to me.
- Revised Camping for if you can’t make it into the wild woods. Recreate the experience in your backyard. We used to camp on our deck when our kids were afraid of the dark. The beauty of this is that a clean restroom is just a couple of doors away.
- Flowers: Buy some mums To decorate your front porch!!
- Rest. Curl up on your porch in a hammock and take a nap or read a good book.
- Cook a new fall favorite. Make Cinnamon Butternut Squash Pancakes with maple syrup or honey.
- Take lots of pictures. Find an old barn or field and do a photo shoot in a new sweater or scarf.
- Paint and carve pumpkins. Maybe even have a pumpkin carving contest.
- Take the opportunity to scare your husband with Spiders and clowns because you really only get this excuse once a year.
My husband recently told me that one of my common phrases is, "I feel bad that..." I never noticed how bad I felt for everything...for so many things I didn't need to feel bad for...until he made me aware. I felt bad when my kids got in trouble, got their feelings hurt, weren't having enough fun, or when I felt like a "bad mom." At first I tried to justify my guilty feelings by telling myself that Clayton was an insensitive guy. But, after years of trying to explain to him why I felt guilty (and why he should too), I understood that I was worrying about things that weren't my responsibility. I was carrying other people's burdens in the name of compassion and love, but was actually motivated by guilt.
How many times have you heard the quip, "Women are complicated?" Whenever I hear it, I want to roll my eyes. Of course women are complicated. Do we have an option? Think about it: We're supposed to be strong and independent, but also tender and nurturing. We're wired to want a man, but we're supposed to be content if we're single. We want a healthy marriage, but one in four of us have experienced abuse by a man.