It’s all in Perspective: life lessons from Addie

race for refuge

4:45 am…who would get up at this hour.  I know I’m suppose to be a grown up.  I know I’m suppose to grow into appreciating the phrase “the early bird gets the worm.”  I’m suppose to wake up energized, do a devotion, watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand.  But, the truth is, even though I am in theory an adult, the only part of the “suppose to’s” that actually happens on the regular is the cup of coffee. 

Here’s the real truth…I rarely go to bed at a decent hour, I drink caffeine like I’m still a teenager, and I usually set my alarm to just enough time to run out the door. 

So, when I hear the alarm and I see the glowing numbers 4:45am, my body rebels.  It screams no, no, no!  I attempt to hit snooze, but then I remember that today is unlike any other.  It’s the Race of Refuge.  Who cares if it’s a Saturday, on Labor Day Weekend?  Who cares if my body couldn’t adjust to the shift and decided to stay up the night before?  Who cares that my eyes still burn with the uncertainty of waking up and my throat was still scratchy?  It doesn’t matter because today is a big day.  A day for small sacrifices like waking up early, running errands, and for some, running in the heat. 

About 500 runners showed up in the park to run for The Race for Refuge.  Among them several of my friends who traveled across the state to be there to support me and our cause.  Each runner was given a survivor story, so they would know who they were running in honor of.   For some it was simply a 10K and their focus was their best time, but for most it was about attempting to combat trafficking by coming together and offering awareness.

Among those who showed up to support me was Addie.  Most of you know Addie, after all she provides me with my best material and life lessons.  And this day was no exception.  She showed up decked out in black and pink ready to run with her family.  Her little three year old mind knew little about what the race represented but when questioned, she’d say, “I’m running for girls that were hurt.”  Simple but true. 

It was such a proud moment for an auntie, because not only was she there, but her new baby sister Lydia was also there to stroll through her first 5k. 

I smiled as Addie began telling me about the race.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  Addie, what was your favorite part of the race?

Addie:  The finish line!

Me:  Why is that?

Addie:  It’s always great when I win!

Now, let me clear one thing up.  Addie was nowhere close to the best time.  It’s hard to compete when you’re pushing a stroller and keeping up with a three year old.  But, her perspective was she won.  Crossing the finish line was success for her. 

As I thought about it, I realized Addie had done it again.  Somehow, in her simplistic way she taught me what was truly important.  Too often I cross the finish line without even noticing, because it didn’t happen the way I thought it should or someone beat me to it, or it wasn’t my best time.  I measure my success in comparison with others or with wrong expectations.  I forget that the finish line is the GOAL! 

So, as I think about the race in front of me, I’ll try to remember to keep the finish line, true success in front of me, and just like Addie, I’ll run it with joy.

The Power of Our Words!

addie fountain3

According to about a million websites and self-help books, it’s not uncommon for a lady to use up to 20,000 words a day. I’m not sure where the research comes from, or who decided to start counting, but I do know that I use every single one of my words daily. I love to chat. I love to debate. I love conversations in the backyard and conversations on the front porch. I love going for coffee so we can talk. I love to verbally process. I love talking so much that sometimes I go somewhere public to engage a complete stranger in telling me their entire life story and in return sharing mine, just to get all my words in.

20,000 words daily and I get them all in!!

That is 140,000 words weekly and, if my math is correct, 7,280,000 yearly! That’s a lot of words!

But, how many of those words do I actually think about and process before they go straight past my lips? How often do I think about the expressions I use, the sound bites I share, or the piece of advice I offer?

I wish I could tell you these thoughts came from my profound maturity and wisdom. But, the truth is it came from a simple conversation with Addie, my adorable 4 year old inspiration.

I’m trying to be a more intentional auntie, checking in on my kiddos and letting them know I love them. This week while texting Addie through her mommy, I replied, “tell her I love her bunches.” Simple, right. I think it’s a pretty common phrase which usually leads to a simple response of “love you too.”

But, not with Addie. Her response was, “she loves me as much as bunches! What does that mean?” It took me a minute, because I knew she wanted a real answer. A simple catch phrase we throw out randomly would not suffice with Addie. She needed to be able to see it; to understand it.

So, I thought before I responded. I wanted to find a way to help her understand how much I loved her. After much contemplation, I responded with, “it would be like if you took all the stuff that is important to you and put it in a bunch or a pile, that’s how much I love you.”

It apparently appeased her because she simple responded with, “oh, ok. I love her too.”

A simple, un-thoughtful comment led to a great life lesson… Think about what we say and communicate to one another. Does the other person truly understand what we are trying to tell them? Can their mind grasp the feelings we are trying to express? Are our comments intentional and effective, or are we just trying to get in our 20,000 words?

I set in a booth at Bread, Co., of course (trying not to engage the women next to me), thinking about my words today.  Not all of them were encouraging or edifying.  A few were harsh and unnecessary.  Several were impulsive. 

But, these thoughts of Addie, made me a little more intentional; a little more thoughtful.  I caught and stopped myself a little quicker.  I paused before sharing opinions and checked motives. 

So, I may have only got in 19,000 words today, but they were a little more meaningful.

***the picture above has very little to do with our words, but I think it definitely captures Addie’s spirit & why she’s so inspiring!***

Lessons from Addie on Feminism

This weekend, I spent some time with my little niece Addie. Every time I’m with her I gain a new insight. Somehow, in her little three year old body and mind she is packed with wisdom. This weekend was no exception. We decided to meet at the “Noble” store (that would be Barnes and Noble to adults). When you ask Addie if it’s her favorite store, she replies with, “it is indeed.”

She loves everything about it. She gets excited just walking through the front doors. She quickly runs to her book section and finds a book that appeals to her, then just lays down in the floor with it (don’t we all wish it would appropriate for adults to do the same).

The truly amazing part is you never know what is going to appeal to her. Sometimes, it’s pink and sparkly. Sometimes, it has her favorite character on it. Sometimes, there is no way to determine the appeal.

After our 2 hour stint in B & N, we decided we were starving. When you’re with a 3 year old and you would like to have some adult conversation, your options are limited. We found ourselves at Chick-fil-a. While playing in the playhouse, Addie came down the slide and quickly informed me that our white blood cells are what fight off our bacteria when we are sick (remember she’s 3).

As I went home that evening, I just kept thinking, “I hope she doesn’t lose that.” I know that sounds vague and it’s very hard to explain. I constantly find myself caught in this world of extremes. I see girls/women who rebel against anything feminine. They refuse to wear pink or decorate in anything too dainty. On the other extreme, I see girls who love all things girly and snub their nose at anything that doesn’t match that view.

But, here in front of me, was the balance wrapped up in a nice, neat little package. She hasn’t had time for her view to get skewed. She hasn’t been forced to choose between being the “smart” girl or the “pretty” girl. Right now, in this moment, she can tell me excitedly about her large intestine and then immediately change the subject to princesses.

I know many of you don’t like the sound of what I’m saying, so let me just tell you about my perspective.

Growing up, I was in a small town. It was a town that I loved. I loved the country, the people, and the fact that everyone knew everyone. But there was a part of me that couldn’t wait to get out and see the world. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I knew that it was what I desired more than anything.

Growing up in that small town, I figured the best way to do that was to get a scholarship and go away to college, so that’s what my mission became. I threw myself into be the smartest and the best. And, somehow, along the way a dichotomy happened. I didn’t know it was happening and nobody really taught it to me, but I began to think that you couldn’t be the “pretty” girl and the “smart” girl all at the same time. I can look at that thought process and realize it’s irrational, and I can’t really determine where it came from. But, it’s there.

The past few years, I’ve had to challenge that thought. I’ve had to realize that I can be both, and I am both. I don’t have to give up my feminism in order to be successful. And wearing a business suit can be just as attractive as a dress. Our beauty doesn’t come out of being one or the other. It comes from being authentic to who we are.

So…I’m going to encourage Addie to wear a pink tutu under her pretend doctor’s coat. I’m going to be just as engaged when she’s talking about princesses as I am when she’s telling me about her digestive system. And, most important, I’m going to love her regardless of what path she chooses to take.

Crazy Goats!

Crazy Goats!

This weekend was another lesson from Addie. Addie is my 2 (almost 3) year old niece, who is constantly teaching me new insights in life. Everyday I spend with her, I get an opportunity to experience life in a new, unexpected way.

Each time she visits, we try to find a new adventure. As the auntie, my job is to create these adventures, take lots of pics, and say yes to her whims as much as possible. Our weekend started at Race for Refuge, where she showed off her new racing shoes by running around the pavilion and informing me to “watch the lights on the bottom because they’ll show me how fast she is.”

For her first 5K, we expected she would ride in the stroller and take in the park as her mom and grandma walked theirs. However, her curiosity got the best of her and she couldn’t understand why everyone else could run while she rode. The result; Addie ran her first 5K, as did her mom largely due to chasing her. As she crossed the finish line, she informed me, “I wanted to run the whole way, but mom and grandma wanted to go so slow.”

Today’s lesson was a combination of squeals and goats. That’s right, goats. Equipped with two baby bottles, our adventurous spirits led us to the goat pin. We were greeted by a goat, propping himself up on the gate daring us to enter. As we gingerly nudged him off the gate so we could enter, the rest of the herd became acutely aware of the bottle in Addie’s hand. There was a slight pause in reaction from the goats, but only a slight one. Before we knew it, they were rushing us, climbing on top of each other, and butting each other out of the way trying to be the first to get the bottle.

Addie was caught between fear and excitement. She was scared that these animals that were as big as she is was crowding her, but she was excited about being close to them. I instinctively put my arm around her and was able to hold the goats back just enough to where she wouldn’t get trampled, but could still feed them. I asked her if she wanted to leave, but she looked up at me and smiled. I picked her up and we continued to feed them until the bottles were gone.

Addie taught me a valuable lesson today. She didn’t let fear keep her from experiencing something new. She knew that as long as I had my arm around her, I would keep her safe and she could face something scary.

As I’m facing a new part of my journey, I often encounter fear, sometimes from external things, but usually internally, fears of inadequacies or failure, success or change. I’m constantly being asked to experience something new and trust the people around me. Instead of choosing to leave the pin, I want to be able to let my excitement for the experience overpower the fear I might be facing.