Category Archives: love

It’s in the Journey that We become Strong

It's in the Journey that We Become Strong

I think I'd like it better if the new president was sworn in on the first of the year as we welcome our own new beginnings on January 1st. Bring it on all at once and start fresh and new, whether it's challenging, too much to take on, or something we are ready for. We could then embrace it all at once, feeling the weight of the year ahead at once instead of intermittently.

But maybe it's too close to the holidays and no one wants the contradiction of emotions happening yet. There are so many contradicting emotions from any election, but this one especially so. It might be best to keep the holiday festiveness going for a few more weeks since so many of us love that time of year.

I've had enough of politics lately so my news channel will stay off for awhile, but I still visit my social media pages often and I love the fact that there's a gathering of women coming together for rights that should already be ours.

It's never been more agreed upon by women and many men that we deserve equality. You won't see any broken windows or looting, either, because that's just how we roll.

When women come together for a purpose, we are hoping that when we turn back around and go home that the seeds we planted were for growth, not for spoilage.

The March is happening in order to lift women up to where we belong; where we often don't even place ourselves because we're so busy making sure that everyone else is okay and that everyone else has what they need, as we balance all of the different hats that we wear.

Whether we are happy or sad to see this new president take office, I'm saddened to see how many women are speaking negatively of his wife. This is a woman we should all be supporting and praying for, but the opposite is happening on many social media posts and news outlets.

When I watched her during inauguration day, what I saw was a beautiful woman who is going to go through a lot of personal growth for the next four years, and a woman who already has her own challenges because of who she is married to. No matter who she is right now, or who we might think she is,  she'll come out on the opposite side completely changed. I wish for her to be strong enough to handle it.

We can't pick and choose which women we support and which ones we tear down.

We all have our moments of moaning about others, and if we do that in private, to good friends and family that is trusted, we get to blow off our steam.

Then we get to remember that they aren't much different than us and that they have their limitations, their challenges, and their own issues, too. We have to turn our frustrations back into support.

We can't rise up while bringing others down, and that's what we want for ourselves and other women; to rise up and to be strong and to feel loved.

I have nine preschool students in my class and at the end of the day, they all just want to be loved, and they thrive when they are. Everyone we meet, they all want that, too, and we should give it to them, who ever they are.

There's enough anger in the world. We have to douse it with love. And we can't do that if we're running around doubting the buoyancy of our lives and our world.

Floating, crawling, walking, running or flying; it's our choice. Flying is a smoother ride, though, and while we do it, we can lift up anyone else we see along our journey. Lift them up and help them make their wings stronger, because we can only get better together.

There should be marching, too, but women know how to use light-hearted steps better than anyone.

Nurture your journey as well as those you meet along the way. Strength in numbers. We already have the numbers, so now we can be the strength.

Women rock - in a million different ways. Opening our eyes to seeing each others' strengths won't hurt us, and it will help them. We need strength and faith and other women at our sides while we walk our journey.

"A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey, but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong."
unknown

xo Katherine

Katherine A. Rayne is a writer, mom and preschool teacher. Her published works are on Amazon.com, written to support women on their journey.

www.backtobeingawoman.com

We are Coming Together instead of Coming Undone

We are Coming Together instead of Coming Undone

 

I watched with tears this week about the seven innocent men that aren’t with us anymore and felt sick thinking about their families while watching their worst moments being broadcast live.

We all struggled watching bad decisions being acted out, men taking their last breaths and witnessing the emotions that followed. We watched someone’s life ending yet it seemed clear from the images that it shouldn’t have happened.

Everything was so unimaginable. I forced myself to imagine how it would be to wake up one morning not knowing that I would die that day and about how much I take for granted. I thought about what I was doing yesterday at lunchtime. I was sitting at a restaurant having lunch with my daughter and her friend. We were laughing, eating and talking about the movie we’d be seeing later that night, positive that we’d be seeing it simply because we had bought the tickets. When the victims woke that day, surely they believed they’d be going back to bed that night, like we all assume every day. But during the course of a day, suddenly they weren’t thinking anything. Their ability to go to a movie, go to work, sit with family and visit friends disappeared as they lost the freedom to take a breath.

One man had just dealt with a pesky homeless man who happened to have a phone and called 911 to report him. And a man that was responsible for making sure that children were fed each day in their school cafeteria didn't know that his fate would be decided by a broken tail light.

Those deaths then created change in the lives and deaths of five other innocent men. Men who weren't wearing protective gear because they were working a peaceful protest and they trusted the crowds on this. They didn’t die because they weren’t wearing their gear, they died because of hate and pain and bad decisions.

I always try to find the silver lining in everything to better understand the why, and right now it's everywhere. There’s an outpouring of love on social media, a tribute that we feel for them and their families and that we are with them through this. We know that they were men who were loved with families and friends and we want them to know that we offer our support and love. There’s anger, but overwhelmingly there’s love and people pleading for peace and acceptance and coming together. The storm of response is showing that today and tomorrow, there is more love in the world because of it. It’s created more connection and softened so many hearts.

When tragedies occur, people from all over the globe voice their support and concern and care for the families. But even so, what is the silver lining for the loved ones?

Philando Castile, the manager of a school cafeteria, had his girlfriend and her young daughter with him in the car when he was killed. The video his girlfriend recorded after he was shot is hard to watch, but there’s a tiny glimmer of light near the end of the video. She stays calm for most of the recording but she starts to panic near the end because she’s been removed from being with her wounded boyfriend and has no idea if he’s okay. Her four-year-old daughter is off camera sitting next to her in the backseat of a patrol car. As her mom becomes more and more upset, you can hear the little girl speaking softly.

 “It’s okay. I’m right here with you.”

That glimmer of light came from a little girl who was sitting in the back of a patrol car for no reason, and who had just witnessed a police officer shoot her mom’s friend, and was now watching her mother become unglued.

The families might not ever find their silver lining, but maybe we can be the silver lining for them. We can take what a four-year-old daughter said to her mom in a time of panic and say it to them and to each another: I’m here with you, I’m here for you.

We are all here together, whether we like it or not, and I know we can do better than this.

No one should have to be sad and afraid because their skin is dark. We all have skin, eyes, hearts, blood, bones, souls and families that would miss us if we were gone tomorrow.

Never mind embracing and being more open to our differences. We need to recognize and embrace our similarities.

We can’t sit back and shake our heads. We have to say yes, we are one and we are all in this together.

I normally pass on the news, but today I’m passing on the love because of the news. These tragedies are the reason to reach out to do better and to be better. All of our tears collectively can turn into rivers of love that will run through our streets and homes and hearts and remind us that we are all silver linings.

xo Katherine www.backtobeingawoman.com

 

“N” is for Nurture – simple and sweet

"N" is for Nurture

I remember as a kid walking into a room where my mom was and telling her that I was bored. Her normal response was that she could find something for me to do. Read: UNfun. Chores. Boring. It seemed to work…I’d go find something else to do to become unbored with.

I always had The Jungle Book record on my record player in my bedroom that got me out of a lot of bored moments when my three sisters were in three different places somewhere else. I’d put on my record and see how much cleaning I could do in my bedroom before the record ended. After my room was clean, (to my standards) I’d see how many somersaults I could do during the song. Surely I’d lay down on my bed after that and then my imagination would take over from there.

It was a really great tactic so I of course used the same one when my kids began coming to me out of boredom, but eventually I began to see a pattern and realized that when they came to me out of boredom, they weren’t really looking for something more to do. They were looking for a moment of nurturing. Or a few minutes. Or an hour. So I decided to start giving it to them right then and there.

As a preschool teacher, the age I teach needs lots of nurturing moments. They don’t have to last long…they don’t even have to be a huge sympathetic deposit of love. They just need to include some eye contact, a listening ear and a warm hug. The result is instant and they are renewed and happy to go off and play once again.

In this day of phones, I often catch myself with my head in my phone when my daughter’s having an “I need you” moment and I’m like, hold on…almost finished answering this (unimportant-can-wait-until-later) text. I look up and she’s moved passed the needy moment but I feel I’ve missed that important moment of connection that you get to have less and less as they get older and older.

You can’t do these moments at your convenience. Kids move on easily and lose interest in your advice or kind words quickly when they are 12, 13 and more. You have to be in the moment with them when it comes around. Phones kinda’ suck the life-moments out of us, but also out of our kids.

What color eyes does my mom have? I don’t know…she’s always looking down in her phone. Maybe if I call her I can ask her.

When someone says “he just wants attention,” about a child, they are right. So we should give it to him. His way of acting out or acting up is saying, “help me….I can’t settle myself on my own right now.”

Kids don’t know our stresses, nor should they, but they still have their own that will stress them out in the same way. We are their stress-reducers. Teaching them that a calm adult is always close by will give them more reasons to be calm when they aren’t close.

So what do we need in order to nurture ourselves? Slow down. Quiet the noise. Go where there’s no distractions (we all need a break even from our kids sometimes). Every time I get myself to the beach, no matter how often I go, I ask myself while I’m there why I don’t go more often. It is always so calming and rejuvenating. Making sure that we have that place to go, wherever it is, is a priority. It’s an escape. You know how men have “mancaves?” My sister recently came up with a "womancave" of her own, the first I'd ever heard of. Make sure you have a “womancave” somewhere, and use it often.

Reading over this post, it's kind of gloomy. I think it’s because I had one of those moments yesterday with my daughter at breakfast, and I can’t take it back. Hopefully writing about it will bring me out of my phone-fog quicker the next time it happens. 🙂

So how are you going to nurture yourself starting today, during today? What's going to make you feel good? Do that. I'm going to go take my shower finally, and then spend the afternoon with my girlie. <3

Make Better Choices Today 2016 ~               xo Katherine

Katherine is doing an ABC Blog Series for #BetterChoices2016 in order to make 2016 your best year yet. Follow her blog at www.backtobeingawoman.com or get the blogs as soon as they are sent out by signing up for her newsletters.

Find previous ABC Blogs here.

"A" is for accepting your present existence
"B" is for be you
"C" is for create
"D" is for do
"E" is for eating and exercising
"F" is for free to choose
"G" is for grit
"H" is for higher
"I" is for intelligence preservation
"J" is for just dance
"K" is for kick crap to the curb
"L" is for look for the lesson
"M" is for making memories last
Read the highlights of Blogs "A" thru "M"

Get my Newsletter here to keep up with my news and weekly blogs. Share this with friends that could do 2016 with us.

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Books by Katherine A. Rayne on Amazon.com.
Lost in Thoughts Adult Coloring Book An Adult Coloring Book that interviews you with each illustration.
Back to Being a Woman (Without Changing the Man) Turn relationships into elationships.
#Living Simply #Living Elegantly Your Life Journal Get your head and home in sync.
There's a Light at the End of the Tunnel. You A compilation of my blogs that all women can relate to.
Visit my website at www.backtobeingawoman.com

What is Love – Photo/Blog Challenge

What is Love www.backtobeingawoman.com
What is Love www.backtobeingawoman.com

What is Love

Love begins as a light inside. The light grows as we do, unless it is stifled by words, treatment, outsiders and influence. The light needs to be nurtured to grow.

Having love is seeing that light in everyone and everything, even if it no longer shines. Looking past color, sins, flaws, issues, actions and judgments. Being love is looking through eyes that have no shield or reservation. Being open to possibilities of something being different than what it appears.

Love isn’t about loving everyone, it’s about loving life and embracing each new experience as it happens to us and to others. We carry love in our hearts, and having love is when we give it freely versus hiding it and holding it back.

When my son was in second grade, he asked me not to kiss him at carline anymore when dropping him off at school to save embarrassment. I told him to be embarrassed about hate, not about love, and love is what he’s kept at his side and in his heart since that day fourteen years ago. He learned love in many moments including that one. He was given love and he has given love.

Love is easier than any other emotion and it’s living life with your light always on.

Photo - blog challenge with the Daily Post: One Love

Katherine A. Rayne blogs regularly @ www.backtobeingawoman.com. Find her books on Amazon.com in support of women and their worrisome heads and hearts. 

 

G is for Grit - No Grit, No Pearl

“G” is for Grit – No Pearl, No Grit

“G” is for Grit – No Grit, No Pearl

Long ago, I came across the inspiring quote, “a diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.” Of course, that’s supposed to make us feel better when we are going through tough times by telling us that we will shine at the other end of the trauma. I came across a different saying for the first time the other day, long after I decided that G would be for Giving Thanks. “No grit, No pearl.” I decided that I liked this saying better than the diamond one because as well as I might handle my challenges, I still don’t like to feel pressured. So we are making “G” about Grit this week.

Grit is hard and disturbing. It gets in your shoes and in your chips and all over your car after a day at the beach, and who do you know that likes grit in their teeth? Grit doesn’t create pressure, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. Grit is problems and aggravations and life altering occurrences.

No matter who you are or when you were born, your life will be full of grit. Not a little bit or a minimal amount, but lots and lots. We were born to head towards the hard stuff so that we can grow.

And to help us get through it, I think it’s important to own our grit. You know those things in life that don’t feel like they should be happening to us, or the things in life that don’t seem fair. We have to fully embrace those things that rub us the wrong way, that disturb our peaceful way of living, that change the course of our lives, because they are going to happen again and again. The sooner we can accept and embrace those things, the sooner we can turn them into a beautiful part of us.

An oyster can’t spit out this gritty grain of sand and we can’t disown our own grit. He has to work with it and begin a long process of turning it into something completely different than what it began as. It actually increases in size instead of shrinking. We have to learn how to walk with our grit, live with it and be with it, while recognizing the beauty that it can add to our lives and the beauty we can add to our lives because of it.

Pick any grit in your life and ask yourself what the silver lining might be. (There’s always at least one.) Focus on the silver lining instead of the irritation of it and then plan how you’re going to grow the silver lining into gold.

We have to begin putting layer upon layer of shine upon the grit until it no longer rubs us in the wrong way. Whether you’re creating pearls, diamonds or gold, you are living life. Note that it all adds up to shining through it. When you find your shine, it's beautiful.

Start turning your grit into shiny iridescent gems. No pressure, though. 🙂

xo Katherine 

Find my previous ABC Blogs here, or below.

"A" is for accepting your present existence
"B" is for be you
"C" is for create
"D" is for do
"E" is for eating and exercising
"F" is for free to choose

Get my Newsletter here. to keep up with my news and weekly blogs. Share this with friends that could do 2016 with us.

 

 

A Glimpse of Grandma – Hood

A glimpse of grandma - hood

I’ve spent a lot of my summer cleaning out cupboards, closets, drawers, boxes and bins. I’m in my use it or lose it frame of mind, which doesn’t last long so I’m taking advantage of it. I want to simplify my home and make it more comfortable and less cluttered. Over the years, I’ve always given my unwanted stuff to charities. I trade it all in for a blue slip of paper that I give to my accountant with my taxes every year. This year my sister and I decided to do a garage sale at her house and it puts a new slant on cleaning out. It makes it easier to get rid of things when you might be getting green paper instead of blue. It’s also a great incentive to a 12-year-old girl to clean out her stash, too. Imagine, someone might pay for something that uselessly takes up valuable space.

I hang on to things that are sentimental, and I can make ANYthing sentimental. I can even go through my daughter’s stuffed animals she’s had for years and tell you who got it for her and whether it was for her birthday or Christmas or her actual BIRTH day. I even remember a lot of the names she gave them over the years, even though I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast today.

I semi-admire the women I know that can put anything and everything in the trash. How simple and clean their life must be. But I’m patting myself on the back because I am getting rid of so much stuff. I was parking it all behind my couch as I sorted through it all one weekend at a time but now with summer here, it made the pile rise up over the back of the couch forcing me to move it to a storage space. How good it feels to get a pile of unwanted stuff out of my home!

Going through everything means that I have to be very careful with my #BSOS (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome). When I come across the things that I know I’ll be keeping, I start going through them anyway. I don’t need to go through them but the sentimental magnet is strong.

I’ve saved some clothing from when my son, now 22-years-old, was young. Cowboy boots, a mini-Miami Dolphins jersey, shirts that he wore often and his outfit for his first professional photo shoot at JC Penney’s. As I was reliving some sweet memories, I came upon a lightweight jacket he wore often. Living in Florida, you don’t need jackets very often so one jacket can last through two winters. Between pee-wee sports and the playground and parks and walks and the backyard and the beach, he wore the jacket all winter long.

I came upon the red and white pullover a few days ago and it was almost as if I was lifting my sweet four-year-old son out of the bin. He was standing next to me, voice and all. I could hear him call my name while he was holding a plastic bat, I could hear him yelling after the dog as they ran around pretend baseball bases in the backyard. I could see him coming down the slide only to run back around and climb the ladder again. And I could see him running to me with his arms wide open happy to see me come outside to play.

If I would have given that jacket away years ago when he grew out of it, I never would have been flooded with those sweet memories, even though they made me miss that tiny, big-hearted boy. Tears of joy and memories gushed out my eyes.

I hugged the jacket to my chest until the urge to cry left me. Now I was going to have to find the strength to tuck it away once more with the sweet memories, and of course I’m keeping it.

PosterKids

I have sisters and friends all around me becoming grandmothers. They love being grandmothers and they tell me there’s nothing like it. No one tries to explain what it’s like, nor can they find the words to. They only say, just you wait and see.

After discovering that jacket, I don’t think I have to wait anymore.

Grandma’s…is it the fact that you almost feel like you’re holding your own children again? The ones that you lived a lifetime with when they were young and innocent and created so many memories with? Is it because you forgot what it feels like to hold your child in your arms, the only human being that you can feel that heart string being pulled with? Does it remind you that the time flew by too quickly and that you would love to have those days back, even if only for a short time? Does it remind you of the countless books you read to them and the million Crayola moments and the painting and the puddles and the cozy weekends in bed together and teeny-tiny ticklish toes?

My son is still the same boy to me. Bright and confident and giving with a huge heart. He’s not worried much about what people think but is always concerned with how they feel. He’s always been that same person. I’ve always liked him as much as I love him.

But there’s times when I reminisce and realize that there’s a little person that I raised and spilled my love and heart into that eventually just disappeared from my life.

Not when he grew up and learned to drive off with his friends. Not when he moved away to college. Not even when he gets a place of his own. Just by growing up and turning into an adult. It’s magic - he grew up overnight. I enjoyed every phase of his life as he grew. I always felt like I smuggled as much as I could from each age to take with me into my later years. We had so many good times together. But looking back, you are losing a child. Not in the disastrous, gut-wrenching way that some mom’s lose their little ones. But in a quiet, slow-moving, sneak-up-on-you kind of way. My daughter is only 12 and we laugh and love and have fun together, but I watch out of the corners of my eyes as she grows towards that sneak-up-on-you direction, too.

One day you look up from the couch when your son walks in the house from his trip home from college for the summer, and you see a man standing in front of you. (OhmyGodI’veMadeAMan)

His little laughs and giggles that came so easily, his excitement at Christmas time, his sleepy little face that found me for a snuggle in the mornings as I lay quietly in bed, are all only memories now.

That little boy is gone. But maybe, when my kids have kids, he’ll be back. And I can hug him until the urge to cry dissipates. And then I’ll pull out the crayons and stories and raincoats and I'll love my grandchildren as much as I love my own and enjoy them while they are close.

Katherine A. Rayne misses those two tiny kids from years ago, but is creating new memories and experiences with her 12-year old and 22-year old hearts.
“Once you have a child, your heart is forever outside your body.” unknown (YES, way!)

Home-Feat-Home

PosterUnconditional

It’s true what they say; if your child behaves perfectly with others (teachers, babysitters, friends), and then acts out with you, it means that you are doing something right.

Your young one is smart enough to know what is expected of them in life when they are out in the world (way to go, mom and dad!), and they are smart enough to know that when they are home, they are in a safety zone with their parents. Enough so that they can act out without embarrassment or shame.

It’s called unconditional love. We will love our children no matter what they do, and they know this because we have made it clear to them.

They know that they are loved, even when they don’t behave, even when they temper tantrum. We continue to want more of their sweet hugs and wet kisses. Because we love them.

We are “home” to them. We are Safety. Even if there is judgment at home, it is not detrimental to their survival or to their safe haven. We are going to be there for them. They are smart enough to know this, too. They can be who they are at their worst.

After they give away every ounce of their best behavior to the world, and the world in turn makes them feel insignificant, less than worthy and incompetent, they know that when they get back home, they can release all of the negative feelings that they have experienced into the safe hidden crevices of home and of hugs and of unconditional acceptance. So they do.

That temper tantrum last night? That was from the previous days’ experience of not getting a fair turn on the playground. And that break down last night right before bed? That was because they were ostracized by a group of close friends for a simple embarrassing mistake.

But we don’t get to hear about the experiences. We only get to feel them. Their frustrations come barreling at us like a James-and-the-Giant-Peach-rhino-nightmare. They don’t hold anything back. They let it all go until the steam and the pressure have been released into the air around us.

We need to be ready to stand to the side so that the heat doesn't scald us, but we need to keep our hand on their shoulder to steady them. To remind them that we’ll hold them up if they need us to while they spew the bitterness of the world onto our lap.

We don’t even need to know what problems they had. We just need to recognize that they had a problem that needs to be released, and allow them the space and the time to do so.

When I get asked for advice about a child’s behavior, I'll often say that everything is just a phase and it will pass. And that is often true.

But this behavior children have of acting out at home never goes away. We hold onto it throughout adulthood. We let loose on our loved ones.

We come home and guess who gets our bad mood? Our frustrations are served up on a platter to those who are home when we arrive. We get anxious and angry with the ones who are in front of us when we are running late. They feel our frustrations of life. Meanwhile, the people that we work with and play with and visit with see our softer, better behaved side. We are polite and politically correct. We don’t trust them completely. Not like our home bodies.

Our home bodies will hopefully love us and our faults and mood distortions and anxieties and short tempers unconditionally. When our angst settles, they will know it and they will come up and give us that hug that the world never can.

We can melt and falter and tear up, and they will glue us back together with only a few words that will comfort us and put us back on track to the person that we were minutes before. We need our 90 seconds of suffering released and we need to be accepted while we do it.

The next time that you feel the anxiety from your little or big loved one, whether they are two or seventy-two, comfort them through it. Be strong for them when they can’t be.

If temper tantrums happens at your house, you are safety. You are trusted. And you are unconditional.

Live unconditionally~   Love, Katherine    PosterLoveStories

Love Thy SELFie

I love my iPhone. No, I mean it. I LOVE it. Before iPhones, there were iPods. Even then I wanted to kiss the feet of Steve Jobs because I LOVE music so much. He so knew what he was doing. Small pieces of pretty metal and wire and buttons with huge impacts on earth, history and on my life. The camera feature is the most adored.

It simplifies selfies for our social media lifestyle generation. Is anyone even camera shy anymore?

My mom. She HATED her photo taken as much as I LOVE my camera feature; passionately. When we decided to do a slide show for her memorial service, my three sisters and I ran in our four different directions to gather photos of her.

We all came back with many photos of my mom holding her hand up in front of her face, of her face turned sideways, downwards or looking uncomfortably away at someone standing out of the cameras’ lens. Rarely did anyone capture the sparkle in her eye or the calming mood she cast on her family. She wanted to be in the background, not the foreground. And we let her. 

My dad WAS a camera. I saw his Nikon more than I saw his face. When I look over his photos taken when we were children, it’s obvious that he loved taking photos of my sisters and me. He told many stories of our lives with his film and slides. It’s also obvious that he cherished us and our cute little noses and bright blue eyes. He captured them again and again (and again).

You hold memories longer when you can keep referring back to the photos that captured them. He has been gone ten whole years but his thoughts and emotions are revealed and brought to life each time I pull out his pictures.

I do wish he’d turned his camera on my mom as often as he did on my sisters and me, but I have a feeling that she did the same with him, too. So, like me, he probably stopped trying to take her picture.

Photo images are so different from our reflection in the mirror.

In a mirror you can convince yourself that what you see isn't what everyone else sees; the spots, the muffin top, wrinkles, the age, the extra weight.

But when you look at a photo, the evidence is clear and permanent and obvious. I am not at all photogenic, but even so, I’ll see my photo someone took of me and think, my hair LOOKED okay when I left the house that day, or, I looked fine in the mirror at home. What happened after? Maybe it’s what makes us so intrigued by our own photo. I have a brother-in-law who has lived in a wheelchair since he was a young adult. He told me that when he sees his photo, it’s hard to take in what he sees; himself in a wheelchair.

Seeing ourselves in a photo forces us to see who we are to the outside world. To people who don’t know us and to people who do. I think that someone really nice must have made up that lie about the camera instantly adding on ten pounds.

Dare I say, maybe it’s what we actually look like? Maybe we don’t like what we see so we sugar coat it a bit.

There was a time when I used to develop my photos. (Ha.) I had left a stack of photos on the kitchen counter in my to-do pile. My then husband kept putting a specific photo of me on top of the stack. I’d come home later and see it there and hide it back under the rest of the photos. The next day, it would be back on top of the pile. It went on for a few days until I finally asked him why he kept moving it to the top. “It’s a beautiful picture of you, I like to look at it.” I went back to the photo to look for the beauty or even a trace of pretty. I didn't see it. I saw the meaty thigh and the messy hair and the nervous smile. I didn't look at myself differently after that. I looked at him differently. He had a much softer eye than I did and I wanted his view.

I imagined that he must view me in the same way that I view my kids; beauty no matter what angle I'm watching them from. It doesn't matter what they are wearing or if they've brushed their hair. If they had ice-cream cone remnants dripping from their face, they were even more beautiful. They’re at their most beautiful while they sleep when I can peek in on them in the sunlit mornings with their delicate resting innocent features so bare and pure.

I took a lot more photos of my firstborn than my second, but now with my second born, I carry around a phone with a built-in camera. The chances of me taking her photo have gone way up. She is beautiful to me and I often take her photo when she isn't paying attention. And I can look at her photo again and again and the beauty is always there. Why can't I do that with myself?

Maybe we’ll all become more and more comfortable with our own photos because of the accessibility of a selfie. Because of our selfies.

If my mom were alive, I could be holding my phone in front of me and be taking her picture without her knowing it. I could have recorded her beautiful innocence and peace.

We carry our phones with us everywhere. Treasure and use your camera often. Take as many selfies as you want. Learn to love what you see. And take more Momsies for me. And make sure that you tell her how beautiful she is when she looks at her image in disgust. It’s hard to watch ourselves age, and it’s no different for moms. Fight her on this one and don’t let her win. Kiss her feet, if you have to.

xo Katherine~

www.BackToBeingAWoman.com

 

“It’s Time”

“It’s Time”

My Daughter’s Smile Told Me It Was Time

by Katherine A. Rayne

It keeps happening. This dog of mine. I cleaned up diarrhea three times yesterday and twice today. He knows to run and hide. I love this dog. But.

He came about in a destructive way. My way of lashing out I THINK, but I’m not sure.  Because I’m not a lasher-outer.  Ten years ago, I was finished with dogs as far as I knew. My little sweet Yorkshire/Chihuahua mix, Beau, lived for 17 years, thank you, God. He was my lovey little guy. He was my baby before I had babies. He was my dependence during my independence of living on my own. My mom decided (thankfully) that it would be wonderful for me to have a puppy in my new home. I was the last of four daughters to move out and I think she wanted to make sure I wasn't lonely. I didn't even say the word and she was out looking. She found Beau for me at the Humane Society. She sold me on him before I even saw him. And OMG she was so right. Not necessarily the cutest little puppy ever (by no means ugly), but his personality shined so bright. How on earth was he the last taken of a litter of four? They must have all had the light. He was happy whether I picked him or not. He was playing with some un-toy in his cage, looking me over and smiling, then back to his un-toy. He had me at play. My little guy.

Over the years, I watched as friends’ dogs passed away and were put to sleep. Putting to sleep, I always said, I could never do that. When he goes, he goes on his own. I can’t make the choice for him. Until that day 17 years later. Until he could no longer eat because of the tumor on the roof of his mouth. The sadness in his eyes that showed more than the cataracts. The hunger over the food that he wanted but gave him pain instead of satiation. It was after 10:00 pm and we came home, my family of four, after a late night of visiting, and we saw it in his eyes. Time. It was time. He couldn't move. We took him to the emergency animal clinic, not because we decided to, but because no one could speak and we knew we had to do something.  The four of us drove silently towards the veterinarian. I was holding his quiet weak body but don’t remember the ride.

Months before, we’d learned that he had cancer and his doctor had told us that we should have mercy by not putting his 17-year old blind, deaf, arthritic body through chemo and surgery. Now there at the clinic, through my tight lips and wet eyes I could only say, “It’s time,” to the stranger who kindly looked us over to decide if he should argue it or not, not knowing my dogs’ history. My son, quiet, my daughter, too young to know, their dad holding her while I snuggled Beau taking a needle. He left a small hollow in my heart with his last breath. It wasn't easy, but it felt right.

At 17 years old, he had his weaknesses. Cleaning up after him was not unusual, but until the end he always avoided carpets, the sweet little guy. So thinking about another dog was not on my mind. He was irreplaceable, and I wasn't up for more cleaning up of a potty-training new puppy, either.

Fast forward almost two years later. Say “I” if you have ever bought a dog at the pet store at the mall because heeeee’s sooooo cuuuuute! I wasn't planning to. I always took my son to a hair salon at the mall to get his hair cut. While he was having that done, I’d take my 3-year old to look at the puppies. There he was each time we went. Cute. Sweet. Pretty. Addictive. Every time we were at the mall, we’d visit the pet store and there he would be. Less expensive than the last time. Still prancing around with his head high no matter how long he’d been there.

It began when I Googled “Papillion.” I think I was Googling for reasons not to consider him becoming a family member, but I couldn't find any. My son was by now ALSO in love with him. He wanted him more than anyone else, but the answer was still no. Then one visit I felt my daughter’s smitten smile spread to me as she gently played with him. I realized that if I didn't get a dog, my little girl would not know having one.

PosterMuffin

I brought him home while their dad was out of the country. No notice whatsoever. Not even to myself. I did it before I chickened out. Of course he wanted me to return the little guy. Can you return dogs? I have never tried before OR then. He was adamant, but I had a lot of ammunition in my corner to use, to remind him of alllllll the big decisions he’d made without me. I also reminded him that he was the one that put a doggy shower in when building his dream house when we no longer had a dog. He’d planted the seed. It grew.

This Papillion, Muffin. He’s no Beau. But he’s awfully sweet and cute and lovable and pretty. Even I call him a she. He is a yappy dog. He’s my doorbell echo. Everyone outside is there to kill us, in his little overprotective mind. I don’t tolerate it well even after eight years, but hopefully my neighbors do. He took forever and a day to become potty-trained, which I found to be my weakest area of tolerance. He swallowed my daughter’s first lost tooth. I did some excavating later that day outside to retrieve it. (It was her first tooth!) He pooped ON my kitchen table after jumping up there and being stuck the whole day while I was out. Disgusting and hard to divulge. He’s peed on throw pillows on purpose. He’s even pooped on my BED.

This little guy sleeps with me in my bed most nights. As much as he’d love to be king there, I won’t allow it. I have to remind him that he’s just a dog. He states his disapproval with a loud sigh from his tiny six-pound body.  One recent morning, I discovered poop in my shower. I guess he’s picking up Beau’s habit of avoiding carpets. I always talk about finding silver linings, but it’s hard to when you find poop in your shower.

I get so mad. But then I look into those eyes. Innocence intensified. Soul-saturation. Apologetically sad. And when I pick him up, he tucks his head under my chin and reminds me that he’s just a dog. Lovable, poetically cute, and pretty. And my daughter knows that love. There are the nights when he sleeps at her feet. Using his growls to keep her safe and separated from the night sounds.  It makes it easier to forgive finding poop there.

 

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