This One’s for the Girls

“Oh, how sweet … she ‘friended’ me!”

That delightful girl who’s been such a help. Flattering, for sure, that she thinks I’m a hip- enough mom to want to know. I accept her request with a quick click of my mouse.

And then there it is: a window into her life.

Through it, I see the way she converses and interacts with her friends. And I’m stunned.

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The less-than-loving things they call each other, throwing words around as if they carry no weight. When did “whore” lose its sting?

The pictures they post of themselves: like they’ve been studying how to pose all their lives. 3/4 profile, slight pout, the half-mast-eye-thing … what is this?! They’re not the pictures snapped of us as kids: awkward, out-of-focus, with goofy faces {and oh, the poor fashion choices}. They’re meant to be alluring. How sad, considering how young they are.

I’m not raising girls. But since I’ve been invited into a few of their lives, I want to say a few things. You’ll know it’s all true, ladies, because I’m NOT your mother {we all know your moms are biased}:

1. You’re beautiful.

And you don’t have to have a certain hair color or shaped nose or be a certain size to be called that.

You have to have that special spark that only you carry.

I’ve got enough years behind me to know that when the most perfectly-put-together humans don’t have personality to back the face up, their beauty is lost. I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

On the flip side, people are drawn to those who embrace all that is unique about themselves, believe in it, and share it. Beauty really does come from within.

2. Don’t sell yourself short.

And I mean this in every way.

Who you are and what you have to say is important.

Only you have your thoughts, beliefs, opinions, dreams. Hold them in high regard. Hold yourself in high regard. Act accordingly.

3. Your tush is not a billboard. I’m serious.

Stop acting like it is. If someone wants to know where you got your clothes, I’m sure they’ll ask you.

Putting words on your backside draws attention where it doesn’t need to be. And if that’s where their attention is, they’re not looking in your eyes and hearing what you have to say. What a loss.

4. Don’t give in to the drama.

Some girls have a tendency to create drama out of nothing. Don’t participate. Even if the drama queens are trying to bait you into it. You’re better than that.

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5. Be mindful of your words.

Seriously, ladies, will you stop speaking like you just walked off the docks? “Whore?” Really?! And it blows my mind that you use that with your friends!

Realize that your words mean something, and they reflect you. Choose them wisely. Be sure they serve to uplift. This is a life lesson that will carry you far.

6. High school will end.

If you were a “big fish,” hopefully you earned that role based on character. If not, you’d better get real now.

If you were a “small fish,” enjoy the fact that the playing field will soon be leveled. The world is full of small fish, and we do just fine. Better than fine, actually.

I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. I’m hoping you moms, aunts, friends, etc. out there will share this with a young gal you love, and if I say too much, I know they’ll tune me out.

Please add your own empowering words … what would you like to say to the tweens, teens, and 20-somethings in your life? What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

My Plan for Lent

I’ve never been very good at giving something up for Lent. I have no problem fasting; it’s the I-won’t-eat-or-do-this-one-thing-for-40-days part I can’t seem to master. There’s nothing that I do so often that not doing it would feel like sacrifice*. I’m not a candy, soda or any-type-of-sugar-freak. I know it works for other people—and I wish it did for me—but I feel no spiritual growth after being denied Thin Mints or giving up coffee altogether. I just get a headache.

Despite this, I’m very much looking forward to Ash Wednesday {just two days away now!} and the 40 days that follow, because this Lenten Season, my plan is to focus on growing, learning, and honing my faith.

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I’ve always had it: faith, that is. A gift from my mother, my aunt, my grandparents, and great-grandmother: people who served the Church and their parish communities in many, many ways. I’ve never questioned that God is my Father and Jesus, His Son, was sent to us to feel our humanity, set the example, and show us how to be and believe in all circumstances.

But I’ve also always doubted. Doubted that He noticed me at times. Wondered why He kept picking on me. Why I’ve had to struggle through certain things where others seemed to flourish without much effort. Why death entered my world at such a young age, and why it continues to haunt me when I’m so open to life.

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This Lenten Season, as I dig deep into the faith and tear through the pages of some inspirational Christian readings with my new Catholic Chicks Book Club, I am tossing that doubt to the wind. I’m sick of hearing myself whine. I want to stop

raging

against

the tide

and falling victim to the clash between what I think or thought my life should be and what He has planned for me. I want to surrender, because frankly, I’m tired of fighting.

I know first-hand that when I keep my eyes on Christ—when I hand my life {and the path before me} over and trust that it will all work out—I’m happier, more serene, less anxious, and peaceful, and I’m able to share that with others. On the contrary, when I’m filled with worry and fear, I’m of no use to anyone, least of all myself.

Like Peter, who’s able to cross the water when he focuses solely on Jesus {not easy to do amidst stormy seas}, but falters when he gazes elsewhere, I want to right my path by keeping Him front and center. Looking everywhere else but skyward has left me with just a whole heap of confusion.

So instead of my typical “I’m giving up {insert item here},” this year, I’ll delve into the lives of Martha and Mary and Mother Teresa. I’ll enjoy “Breakfast with The Pope” {cream and sugar, please}, “Grace (Eventually)” and “The Little Way of Lent.” And probably a few more good reads, if you have any suggestions.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. {Matthew 11:28}Yup, that’s me. I’m-a comin’.

*Yes, there’s coffee, but I’ve already really cut down on that. Really, I have. Really.

What are your plans for Lent this year? And what would you recommend I add to my To-Read list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

That’s My Joy

Have you ever noticed that life throws you curve balls whenever you announce (either to yourself or out loud) that you think you’ve got it all figured out? For me, it happens every time. The end of September brought some unanticipated excitement to the Colasante household, followed by a touch of unforeseen disappointment. And though in a few years, when I look back on this time, it will amount to the smallest little blip on the radar of my life, it shook my world just a bit.

I’m in a good place. Have everything I want: a wonderful husband, a precious child, a beautiful home. My health. You know, all the right stuff. And I thought that once and for all, those questions that seemed to eat at me over the years (everyone has theirs: the “what if’s?”, the “why not’s?”, the little regrets that take some time to reconcile) had been answered and laid to rest. And that’s where I was wrong. A brief turn of events and I was right back at the same point and on the same shaky ground I’ve found myself time and time again. And when I’m on shaky ground, I stumble. Big time.

It made me wonder what it was that I wasn’t learning? Why was it that THIS lesson was revisiting me over and over? Why did my life seem marked by such things (note the twinge of self-pity there…my life isn’t marked by such things but when I’m down I can be very dramatic)? And then, for the first time in years, clarity came. I realized that there was no lesson to be learned from the event itself. What happened is just a part of life. The lesson is in how I react to it. When something sad or tragic happens, it has the power to consume. Heck, when any disappointment shows up on your doorstep, even if it’s a molehill it can seem like a mountain if you let it. When it’s truly the mountain, it can be devastating. My epiphany was that it doesn’t need to take over my life and it doesn’t need to define me.

What should define and consume me are the joys that happen every day; you know, the ones we usually pay little or no attention to. It’s the smell of my morning coffee. It’s the joke my 4-year-old tells that makes me smile (even though it’s more crazy than funny). It’s David Bowie’s “Blue Jeans” coming on the radio and catching it from the very beginning. It’s the modern-day McGarrett on this season’s “Hawaii Five-O.” It’s a weed prevention system actually working. It’s bright orange and red leaves set against a seriously blue sky. It’s my husband sitting with me night after night enduring what he considers my less-than-admirable taste in prime time programming just to be with me. It’s my friends making sure my son is where he needs to be (because at the time, I couldn’t) and fixing me dinner to remind me that even in my darker hours, I’m not alone. It’s being surrounded by good people. It’s having faith that no matter where I am in life, I am where I need to be, no matter how bumpy the road behind me has been.

So I’m going to stop swimming against the tide. I’m going to stop trying to dissect the low points, the heartaches, or the tragedies of my past to uncover some sort of mystical truth of life. From here on in, I’m going to focus more on the beauty I see on a regular basis. The stuff that fills my heart, even if it’s just the smell of my clean laundry or the sight of my favorite mag in today’s mail. That’s my joy, and I’m going to stop taking it for granted. 

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