30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 8

This guy.  Two years ago today this little sweetheart was born into our chaos. In the midst of our worst times this little guy was sent to bless our mess, to be light in our dark and to begin the great turnaround God had in store for our family.

2013 was the year that we wished never happened. It was the year things all fell apart before we got the PTSD/TBI diagnosis. Before Mr. Wonderful was sent away for two and a half months of treatment so we could begin the beginning of the treatment process, the medical retirement, the the healing it would take to put our family back together.

This baby, I’m convinced, was sent in the middle of Mr. Wonderful’s treatment to show us that there was a great comeback on the horizon for our family. In the middle of the hardest, most awful year we’ve ever had came one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever experienced. This baby renewed our hope, our sense of purpose, our love, and our faith.

That’s a lot for a baby.

But every day that I get to spend with this guy encourages me, brings me joy, makes me laugh and catch my breath in awe at how blessed I am. 

 My ❤️is so full of gratitude for God’s timing, his love, and his blessings wrapped up in this bundle of energy and joy. Happy Birthday sweet boy! 

 #happybirthday #twoyearold #toddlerlife #Godspromises #blessings #gratitude #30DaysofThankfulness

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

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Top 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me in My 20s

1. Travel. Spend a lot of your money and time traveling when you’re young. See how others live. It’s how you develop compassion and learn that there is always someone worse off than yourself. This will, in turn, make you appreciate being you. Learning about other cultures and religions and customs helps open your eyes and your heart and your mind. Time and money spent on this will never be wasted.

2. Do Your Secret Dream. You know that thing you love to do? That thing that makes you stay up late and rise early just to find time to do it? The first love that you dream about while working at your “real” job? Find a way to do it for real. While you are unencumbered by children or mortgages or demands of career advancement, do your thing. See if there is a place in your world any way you can to do this secret dream so that you won’t get into your thirties or forties or even fifties and look back with regret that you didn’t do your thing from the beginning. You’ll have less time and energy and more responsibilities later that will make the road to your secret dream much longer and more bumpy.

3. Be Choosy in Who You Love. The whole “love the one your with” is ridiculous. I’m sorry to take such a hard-nosed approach on this one but it is better to be alone than with the wrong person. You may somehow wind up married to the one you’re with (it seemed like a good idea at the time…) so be sure the one you’re with is worth marrying. If not, see #2. You need more time for that anyway.

4. Have a Plan (but you don’t have to have everything figured out). If you float through your twenties without a plan, you may end up somewhere you didn’t want to go. I’m not saying things have to be written in blood or stone, but get a general idea of a direction. And then go that direction. I’m convinced that any direction is better than apathy or complacency with your current situation. If you’d rather be working as a real artist rather than a sandwich artist when you’re in your thirties, get started on that in your twenties. Understand that your twenties don’t last forever so use them wisely.

5. Get to Know Yourself as a Grownup. Who are you now? Do you like that person? If you do, congrats! You’re way ahead of the game and I’m not even sure why you’re still reading this. If you don’t, no worries-you’re completely normal. I suggest you spend some quality time with that person you see in the mirror. Take a moment to sit down and ask yourself what’s important to you. If you can’t figure this out, you may not know yourself very well so get to know yourself better. And if that’s the case, pay particular attention to #3.

6. And Then Embrace Who You Are. Once you figure out who you’re supposed to be becoming, embrace the best parts of yourself and hold onto them for dear life. And those gross parts, those things about yourself you want to keep locked up in the closet-work on them, be vulnerable with them, and then embrace them too. Maybe you don’t love some things about yourself, but I bet the things that you are most hesitant to share with the world are the things that will make you most endearing to those who truly love and appreciate you for you. Follow their lead and give yourself a break.

7. Start a Roth IRA. I’m not one to give financial advice or do math on this blog. But I have heard of this thing called compound interest and I know if you start with small amounts they add up over time. You think you can’t afford to start in your twenties? Wait until you have the aforementioned kids and mortgage. Start young and small and just trust me on this. Your forty year old self will thank me. And you.

8. Use Sunscreen Every Day. Your skin is gorgeous and pliable and unmarked by scars of that glorious sunshine you don’t even think about now. Want to avoid things like wrinkles and skin cancer? Just slather it on your face and neck every single day before you walk out of the house. Make it part of your routine. You will not regret this choice in any way so just do it! How many other situations in your twenties can you say that about?

9. Feel the Fear, Do It Anyway. Those things that you really want to do (see #2-6)? Things that scare the hot mess right out of you? They’re probably actually good for you-you just can’t see it yet because you don’t have a lot of life- or self-experience. These might be those life-altering things that will bring you great personal joy or self satisfaction or glory or riches or rainbows or unicorns. But you won’t know til you take the leap. It might feel terrifying, but if you feel a layer of excitement and intrigue underneath the fear, it might be a good leap for you to take.

10. Be Adventurous (for these are the stories you’ll be telling the rest of your life). This goes hand in hand with #9. Being adventurous doesn’t mean being stupid. But it can mean taking calculated risks. It can mean leaping, jumping or diving for that thing you really want. Maybe in your job or personal life or school or introspection. Only you can decide where your adventure will take you. And if you have no adventures to speak of, you will never be invited to parties in your forties, a fate worse to consider than death when you’re twenty, I realize. You will be more interesting, more engaging, more satisfied and more joyful if you live a life full of adventure.

Don’t wait for life to happen to you. Embrace it with a sloppy wet kiss that will surprise you both. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Top 10 Reasons It’s Awesome Being an Older Parent

1. Your memory is not that great anymore but that’s okay. It just means you forget nearly as soon as it happens when your kid floods the bathroom, or finger paints all over the house.

2. Remember the jobs you had in your early 20s? Being a sandwich artist, part-time musician/student, and playing piano for a boys’ choir were some of the job highlights of my early 20s. I’m just sayin’.
3. What you lack in energy you make up for in wisdom. Now instead of jumping up to go get the baby from his bed when he’s crying, I just send the oldest kid to do it.
4. No one mistakes you for the babysitter.
5. You know how to enjoy things. You don’t rush around anymore, mostly because you can’t.

6. You have had a professional life, so you know getting people to do what you want is nearly impossible. This is very helpful with children.

7. You’ve paid for the mistakes you made in your 20s that were reflected on your credit score. It’s possible you may even own a home now.
8. All of the money you blew on shoes and alcohol and other luxury items for yourself now goes to a good cause: your kids.
9. You are more patient than you were in your 20s and 30s. This is because you are more tired.

10. Your children can serve as your IT people. Let’s face it, they already know more about technology than you ever will.
Being an older parent is the best gift I’ve ever given myself. It doesn’t matter that I squandered part of my youth; my kids are showing me every day what it’s like to be young at heart. How to take a moment. How to enjoy the present.
I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. This is exactly where I need to be.



Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

10 Ways You Know You’re an Older Parent

1. You join your kids for a dance party in the living room and your bones ache the next day.

2. You don’t see anything wrong with eating dinner at 4:30 and you justify it because you have little kids who go to bed early.

3. When you go to your preschool age kid’s class party you wonder why so many high schoolers have babies these days.

4. Your kids are impressed that you know answers to “olden times” Jeopardy questions about the ’80s. The 1980’s.

5. You’re exhausted. All. The. Time.

6. You go through the whole list of kid and dog names before you call the right kid. Then you forget why you were calling them in the first place.

7. Kids you once babysat for have kids older than yours.

8. You realize when your mom was your age you were applying to colleges.

9. Your high school friends are posting pics on Facebook of their kids’ graduations and their grandkids.

10. You’re trying to stay out of reading glasses while you still have one in diapers. 

It ain’t easy but I’m blessed! Tomorrow I’ll be posting my Top 10 Reasons it’s Awesome Being an Older Parent. If I remember…

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Small Things



A note from the owner of Cuppies & Joe, the coffee/cupcake house where I wrote most of My Pink Champagne Life.

I’ve never met her, yet she took the time to hand-write a note to say that the chapter I wrote about their sweet little establishment captured what they hoped to have when they first started this business.

Small thing, big results. Small things matter.

Don’t ignore the fleeting thought. The urge. The whispered voice. It may be a small thing to you but you never know what lifeline you may be tossing to someone else.

Most people are living fragile lives we can know nothing about. Take the time to do that one small thing.

It can make all the difference.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Rejection

Big sigh

Twice today I’ve been rejected. I admit, I have really thin skin. I’m tender-hearted and sensitive and definitely should have picked a different kind of career than writing. Aka, putting your heart on paper only for people to use it as a welcome mat for their muddy shoes.

Did I mention I have a flair for the dramatic?

Ok, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be. I just naively thought that once I got my book published (you know what’s coming: shameless plug. You can purchase My Pink Champagne Life here and here) the rejection would end for a bit. 

Wrong.

Not all books are meant for all venues. I totally get that. Within my niche I have been trying to get the word out. Talking to my contacts, using social media, begging my friends to buy my books. My little snowball is starting to have some momentum. And I’m totally excited about that-I have five events scheduled. Five! Me!

As an unknown author, this is the only way to sell books. And until I suddenly morph into John Grisham (Mr. Wonderful would be so disappointed!), or get Oprah to read my book, I’m going to have to win over one reader at a time. I am totally up for this challenge.

Sidebar: this is an exhausting yet exhilarating process. I had no idea what it meant to market your book when I signed the contract with my publisher. Can I just tell you that though I love my day job, I really love this writing gig.

To dispel any rumors, My Pink Champagne Life is not about alcohol. Some of you will stop reading at this point. I’ll holler at you when it’s time to time back in. It is about the act of celebration no matter what’s happening: during the good, the bad, the boring. It’s about grace and gratitude. About my crazy traveling circus of four kids, my mid-life love and subsequent marriage, what it was like to be a single mom, adoption, and how God has been with me. Every step. Even when I didn’t know it or feel it or even acknowledge it.

Within my niche market I got told (nicely and by people I know-I’m not sure if I feel better or worse about that) that my book, the thing I poured my heart and soul into for three years and then took another year to publish, wasn’t good enough right for their audience. Maybe I’m reading into it a bit. It’s possible I’m reading into it a lot.

And those two rejections opened up a crack in my mental door for every critcal thought and negative, self-conscious flaying I’ve ever given myself. Who are you to write a book? Look at all the time you’ve wasted! Who on earth would read such drivel?

Mr. Wonderful stopped me in my tracks when I confessed what was going on inside my head. He did his usual propping up of me and my sagging little spirit. And then he prayed. Just a quick prayer and he probably didn’t think another thing about it. But in that moment to have my man acknowledge my insecurities and then to take my hand and take a moment was extraordinary for me. 

Everything isn’t magically cured. I still want people to like me and think my book is exactly the kind of encouragement they need. I’m sure I’ll still have doubts and crazy thoughts-I’m still me after all. But I know that I can’t keep doing the right things over and over without getting good results. 

Ok, time to come back, I’m bringing it home. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ll tell a few more people about this book I wrote. Some will like it, some won’t, and that will hurt my feelings. But it’s another chance to enlarge the snowball, and share this little dream with others. I will follow my own encouragement and remember to celebrate.

Even if I get rejected.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015