Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Blogging From A to Z Challenge! Join Us!

If you've been a CHill Thoughts follower for a long time, then you know that last April I joined a huge group of bloggers from around the globe for the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge – and I survived!

A year ago I was really new to this whole blogging gig and the Challenge was fun and exciting… But, to be totally honest, I hadn't planned to join again this year.  I didn't really think I had the time to dedicate to getting a post done six days a week.

But the more I thought about not joining this year, the sadder I felt.  I felt like my heart had gone out of blogging.  And I wanted to get back to loving this.  So, I took a leap and added my blog to the list!  So, for the month of April I will be publishing a blog post every day except Sunday each week, beginning with the letter A and progressing through the alphabet one day and one letter at a time!  Doesn't that sound fun?

The real fun of the A to Z Challenge comes from visiting other blogs who link up for the challenge.  Last year I discovered blogs and bloggers I follow still.  And I know I gained a few followers as well.  I’m hoping this year will be even better!

Some bloggers in the challenge have chosen a theme for their posts – I haven’t.  I’m just too random and moody for that!  I do hope to choose different topics than last year – but you never know!

Does the Blogging From A to Z Challenge sound like something you’d like to do?  It’s not too late to sign up!  Just Click HERE and add your blog to the list!  Be sure to comment at the end of this post and let me know you’ve signed up!  I’d love to read all your posts and offer each other support through the month!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In the Middle of the Messy Part…

I know it probably sounds absurd to many that at the ripe old age of 39 I’m still having some rather elementary realizations about life in general.  But, much of my existence has been spent in “survival mode” (at least emotionally, anyway) with me moving from one experience to the next with little to no time for reflection.

I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t just “reacting” to life and getting through it the best I could.  Reflecting on my life, things happening around me, my reactions to them and adjusting based on those reflections is a newer skill for me.  It’s certainly not perfected, either.  But I’m doing better now than I ever have and hopefully, like a fine wine, I’ll just keep getting better with age!

So, today’s realization: Life is messy; sometimes when you start cleaning up the mess, thinking you’re going to accomplish great things, it only gets messier.  It’s in that moment, when your efforts have taken messy and created messier, that you have the opportunity to discover something about yourself: are you going to quit when the going gets tough or are you going to keep going until you reach your goal?

You see, at that moment you could simply quit – say you were foolish for starting in the first place. You could learn to live with the “messier” you’ve created and even label it a “lesson learned”.  And you can go on living your life as if that lesson, that you should just leave well enough alone, is a good one.

But the trouble with living that way is you never know what might have been accomplished if you hadn’t quit and given up.  You have no way of knowing if quitting was the right decision or if quitting has forced you to accept less than you could have had.

Today, I was cleaning up a mess, literally, when I realized all this.  I had started cleaning up something that wasn’t all that messy looking in the first place when I realized that my efforts were making it look far worse than it did in the beginning. ACK!

Leaving it looking that way wasn’t an option…I had to keep cleaning until it looked better.  It took time and effort, for certain.  I was worried that I had created a disaster.  I had to reassess my approach and adjust so that my efforts were successful.  I had to work harder and longer than I expected. And in the end, it paid off!

And right there, in the middle of the messy part, I realized something important about life.  Thank goodness for messes to clean and the ability to keep learning!

1974 Was a Good Year for Music! #TuesdayTen

Today I'm linking up with the #TuesdayTen Blog Hop to share great things about the year I was born!

I did some research into my birth year, and there were certainly some big headlines, most notably:
And I could share a bunch more information about 1974 that I learned today, but I've chosen to share some of my favorite music from the year I was born instead!
There really were too many great hits released in 1974 to narrow down to ten to share, so here are ten great classics in no particular order:
Come link up with us and share your top ten from the year you were born!!
(Just click the image below)

The Liebers
What is your favorite song from the year you were born?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome Spring! Time for a Little Spring Cleaning!

I've spent half my day "spring cleaning" - in the virtual world that lives in the liquid crystals floating around in front of my face...

I can't tell you how refreshing it is to clean up and lighten the load.  When I started blogging I read, read, read and I got a little carried away following blogs.

This is a real photo of the inside of my computer last week!
It got a good cleaning, too!

SO, I've been cleaning out my reading lists (even though Blogger doesn't want to cooperate and will apparently only allow me to delete so many blogs from my reading list before it crashes each day - LOL).  Many of the blogs and bloggers I started following over the past year have quit blogging, so there was no reason to keep track of their little corner of the internet anymore.  Others, I've found, are just not a good fit for me personally - I'm either not interested in what they write about or, occasionally, find their writing style annoying and not worthy of my time.  And where I spent my time, what I feed my brain, heart and soul is important!

You've probably heard the Cherokee proverb about the battle inside each of us...

So, I've whittled my reading list down from 474 to 89 and perhaps some of those will eventually get the ax as well!  Who knows!  All I know is that it feels great to have my reading list narrowed down to pages I actually want to visit and will gain from.

I'm going to try to focus more on joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth...

How about you?  Which wolf are you feeding?

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Contagious!!

You know your attitude is CONTAGIOUS, right??

What do YOU want to spread?

And so I give you a song that makes me feel HAPPY...

If you haven't heard of Walk Off The Earth you should check them out!  They make me incredibly happy!!

If you need more happiness than one youtube video could possibly offer, check this out.

Peace Out Brothas and Sistas!!  Hope you're happy and at peace tonight and every day from now til eternity!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Let's Talk About the "Cupcake Debating" Kid Video for a Minute...

I've been seeing this video shared for days all over Facebook.  I finally watched it and I'm appalled.  I've seen it shared calling this kid "adorable", "precious", "cutest person in the universe" and other endearing adjectives.  So, when it once again came across my newsfeed I clicked over to see what all the fuss was about.

Having watched the video a few times now, I've got a few adjectives of my own to add: brat, rude, and condescending are the nice ones...

I've seen it said multiple times that this kid should be an attorney...well, frankly, in my opinion he'll never get there.  In my opinion, with the amount of respect for his own mother that he has at this point in his short life, he will likely not even graduate high school.

Judgmental? Yes.  Harsh?  Yes.  Correct?  Maybe.  Honestly, I HOPE I'm wrong.

But, the fact that a huge part of society views this video as "cute" instead of seeing it as a child who doesn't know his place and has been failed by the adults in his world is incredibly telling.  Society is doomed!

First of all, it isn't this kid's fault that he behaves this way, really.  I feel sad for him.  The adults in his life have led him to believe that children have the right to speak to adults this way.  Maybe you think there's nothing wrong with his attitude toward his mother, too?  I disagree.  I think that this attitude of talking over her in a condescending way will only get worse as he gets older.  And then, it will expand to his teachers at school, and authority figures in society, and so on and so forth.  I've been watching this happen for several decades and I'm continually and consistently appalled.

Maybe you think I'm "old fashioned" and "backwards thinking" and that children have as much right to speak their minds as adults do.  I disagree.  And I believe in the general concept of children's rights!

I think children's rights have been stretched and distorted so badly that we need to snap back a few decades to a mindset where children's rights meant children were treated fairly and with consideration, rather than one where they are handed power they have no idea how to manage.  A time where children are guided carefully and taught respect for others and how to use their personal power in the world for good.  I believe that children should be taught manners.  I believe that children should be taught accountability for themselves and their actions.  I believe that children should be taught self-respect as well.  I believe children should be taught to feel good about themselves, but not to the point that they never feel shame.

When did we switch over to the belief that a child should never feel bad or disappointed or embarrassed or ashamed of how they behaved?  How did building a child's self-esteem get so grossly distorted?  When did we become this "everyone gets a trophy just for showing up" society?

Do you see that these attitudes set kids up for failure?  Do you see how if we shield our kids from all disappointment and sadness in their childhood they'll never be able to handle it as adults?  Do you see how we are setting kids up for failure?

We're raising them in this Disneyland everyday sort of life where everything goes their way and every meal comes with a toy and dessert and nothing ever has to be really "earned".  And then we wonder why they can't function in the "real" world.

We wonder why young adults are so narcissistic and entitled...

THIS is why!  Because a three year old who interrupts his mother repeatedly and talks to her as if he were another adult is viewed as "adorable".  I wonder, if this video were a teenager talking to his mother exactly the same way, would we view it as "cute"?  Of course not!

But that's exactly what will happen.  Because we not only permit this, we encourage it!


And THAT'S my rant for the day!  What do you think of this kid?  Agree with me?  Disagree?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Outwit, Outplay, Outlast - Survivor: Parenting Toddlers Edition

There is likely a battle happening at this very moment in a home near you...

Which home?  Why, it's the one with a toddler inside!

Strong-willed little creatures they are, toddlers...

It's almost as if they just realized that they have some control over their world and they're determined to figure out exactly how much control they have.  You are the enemy, the prey, all that stands between total anarchy and chaos.  If you falter or weaken now, the battle may be forever lost!

Toddlers will go through the arsenal they have assembled in their tiny little heads until they find one that not give in.  Stand your ground!  99% of their tactics lack follow through and planning.  They shoot from the hip and their experience is minimal.  THIS is the time to establish yourself as the leader.

Do not be fooled, they will use anything they can:  "the cuteness", tears, your sympathy, your indecision, your self-doubt and your tendency to threaten punishment worse than you are willing to carry out - all weaknesses they will exploit!  You must learn to outwit, outlast and outplay your toddler to survive!

Let's discuss a few common tactics employed during time-outs and how to avoid their pitfalls...

Tactic 1:  I need to poop!  Aaah, yes...they've seen the panic these words evoke in you.  They've seen you drop everything to hustle them to the potty in time.  Oh, the power of those words...  Do not allow yourself to be fooled; 93.65% of the time this is a fake-poopy claim to distract you and remove themselves from the "Naughty Spot".  (If this time happens to fall in that 6.35% of the time they're not BS-ing you, seize the opportunity to explain the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" theory with your toddler!  That's keeping on your toes, dear warrior!)

Tactic 1 Amplified:  I need to poop while grabbing the diaper like there might already be poop in there that will soon be used for smearing.  Do not let this amplified tactic scare you!  Simply deploy your "I'm VERY serious" eyebrow raise while informing your toddler that "You don't touch poop!  It's nasty!"

Tactic 2:  I need milk! / I'm staaarrrving!  As soon as their hiney hits the naughty spot, a switch flips inside them; their once-sated appetite roars!  Or their thirst is that of a camel nearing the end of a trek across the Sahara.  Perhaps both!  And they're going to tell you all about it, usually while employing Tactic 3.

Tactic 3:  Tears.  Do I really need to elaborate on this one?  Toddlers can turn on the tears faster than a donut disappears at a Weight Watchers convention!  Unless the tears were preceded by an actual injury you witnessed occur, they are likely a manipulation tactic.  Treat them as such until you can confirm otherwise.

Tactic 4:  But I LOVE you and just want to hug you!  When your toddler has an instant and urgent need to hug you and kiss you as soon as they realize they will be sitting in time out for their behavior.  Do not let those little arms fool you...they are trying to distract you so your Toddler can go for the kill!

Tactic 5:  Divide and conquer.  If a toddler can get just one of his parents to fall for one of these tactics, all may be lost.  Do not be the weakest link!  Do not abandon your partner for those chubby little snuggles - everyone loses if you do...

Tactic 6:  Ooow!  Toddlers often suffer invisible and imaginary injuries that can only be healed with a kiss from Mommy or Daddy (and maybe a piece of chocolate).  A large many of these "injuries" occur when the toddler is trying to divert your attention from what they've just done OR as they're facing the toll for their deeds.  This tactic is generally paired with Tactic 3.  Do not allow yourself to be fooled!

Tactic 7:  My eyes!  An offshoot of Tactic 6 that they discovered accidentally the day they got sand in their eyes and realized how quickly you moved to resolve their problem - crying "My eyes!" in a pained voice holds the power to turn an otherwise indomitable parent into a panicked eye-wiper.  That's when they will pounce, perhaps employing Tactic 4.  A certain toddler I know has been know to use Tactic 7 after Tactic 3 in an attempt evoke guilt his mother.  The proper response to such manipulations is "If you weren't throwing a fit, your eyes wouldn't hurt."  This response effectively returns the responsibility to the toddler and keeps everyone focused.

Perhaps you've fallen prey to one or more of these tactics and you ask yourself "Is all lost? Should I waive the white flag and beg for mercy?"

I say NO!  Do not go gentle into that good night...RAGE, RAGE against the dying of the light!

And stand strong...

For we will make better mistakes tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Tuesday Ten - What Will I Take With Me?

Today I'm participating in a fun blog hop I found at The Golden Spoons - the Tuesday Ten.  You should scoot over there and check out the other posts in the link-up answering today's question:   If you had to leave your house quickly and knew you could never return, what would you want to take with you?? (Besides people and pets.)

If you've been reading here for any amount of time, you've probably figured out by now that I am crazy see things differently than many.  For some reason my brain automatically and almost uncontrollably begins to predict all the ways any given situation can go horribly wrong.  Seriously, any situation.

You're at the park enjoying a nice picnic?  I'm watching all the cars driving through and dogs with their owners to gauge if a car's driver is about to have a heart attack and come careening through the park killing everyone having a good day or if a seemingly sweet dog is about to go all Cujo on us.  Live in the moment?  Who has time for that when you're watching for disaster at every turn.  And I'm not talking normal awareness and cautiousness - I'm talking about an almost psychotic belief that if something can go wrong, it likely will.

I've tried being optimistic.  It's not something I can do easily.  But to imagine how a simple trip to the grocery store could turn into a cut-your-arm-off-or-die situation; well, I've probably imagined it.  I partially blame Hollywood and their willingness to address everyone's worst nightmares through film, but really, who knows why my brain does the things it does?  I surely don't!

Anyway, after explaining all of that, does it surprise you that I've thought of what I would take with me in the event I had to leave my home quickly, never to return again?  It shouldn't...thinking through things like that is just part of who I am.

So, without further ado, here's my list of ten things (besides people and pets) I'd take with me if I had to just walk away from my home forever for whatever reason:

10.  Clothes and shoes - This seems like a no-brainer as long as there's time to be packing clothes.

9.  Food and snacks - being anywhere away from home is always easier when you know you've got something to eat!

8.  My journal and pens to write with - if all else fails, at least I can document life, thoughts and important information if I have something to write on and something to write with.

7.  My vehicle - how else are we getting around?

6.  My camera - I almost always have my camera with me anyways.  I don't know what I would do without the ability to document this world and life with my camera!

5.  My cell phone - it's the only thing that knows all my phone numbers!  When I was a kid, and even as an adult before I had a cell phone, I had tons of phone number memorized.  Now, I only know two phone numbers by heart - my DH's phone number and my "adopted" parent's phone number (it's been the same phone number my whole life - I could never forget it)!

4.  Buddy's favorite toys - what's favorite tends to change pretty regularly, but there are a few that would have to go:  His favorite bear, who used to be named "Beary"but now seems to be named "Buddy", and the backup version we bought but who is almost always with his identical twin.  Ironically, the back-up/stunt-double bear is also named "Buddy".  They've both gotta go with us, plus we recently added a small bear whose name is "Baby Buddy" - he's gotta come with us, too.
Buddy Bear, Baby Buddy and their other brother Buddy

3.  My computer and external hard drives.  I live on my computer and have waaaay too much of my life wrapped up in stuff stored on it.  It's going with me!
This is what my computer looks like right now...
It's trying to die and I'm trying to save it.  Let's hope I'm successful!
Dear computer: please don't die on me!!

2.  My "Very Important Documents" file - this is where I keep our birth certificates and social security cards.  In a situation where we were never going home again it would probably be pretty important to have these!

1. Photos and Photo Albums - I'm counting these as one item, while in reality there are about three boxes of photos and photo albums plus a ton of framed photos on the walls and a little photo display cabinet thingy we would have to take in order to get all the photos that aren't digital.  The digital photos would have to be with us, too, but they are split between being with the other photos but on disks instead of printed and being stored on my computer.
I really need to get all my digital photos backed up so I don't lose them.  It's the one downfall of digital, they accumulate and if you aren't careful they can be lost in an instant when your computer fails.  That's a lesson I'm trying not to learn the hard way at this very moment as I copy photos onto my external hard drive with my main computer booted in safe mode - but that's a story for another post.  Hopefully I'll be able to say I saved all the photos...

Wanna link up with the Tuesday Ten Blog Hop?  Click on the button below and check out the very simple rules!  Next week's topic looks fun, too!

The Golden Spoons

PS. I realize that half the stuff I'm taking with my is useless in the event of a global event like the zombie apocalypse or a giant asteroid striking earth or something.  So, let's just assume that's NOT why I'm packing up to leave and all my technology is going to serve me well wherever I end up!
PPS.  What would you take with you??

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