Sunday, October 27, 2013

Milk and Friendships

As I have previously discussed on this blog, I am severely lactose intolerant. By law, I should not be allowed within 300 feet of any dairy products. However, there are times when milk is a necessary evil for some dish I'm making....

Or, I just need a quick swig to wash down my favorite guilty pleasure: a delicious Lofthouse cookie.

On many occasions, I have opened the container and smelled the most unholy stench. A cursory glance at the label tells me the milk has expired--usually by a day or two, sometimes even a few weeks.

It is an inevitability of life. At some point, you'll need milk only to discover that your milk has reached its expiration date.

Just like friendships.

I LOVE having friends. To me, there are few things better than meeting a friend for lunch; texting inside jokes or standing in a parking lot, talking and laughing for what you tell yourself will only be a few moments--only to find yourself in a deserted parking lot, hours later, belly laughing about that one embarrassing thing you did in junior high.

But true friendship is more than those fun moments. It's answering the phone after 11:00 because your girl is in crisis mode. It's stopping in the middle of the day to pray, because you remember your friend has a doctor's appointment or a very important job interview. It's crying with them when their hearts are broken. Friendship is riding the waves of life together, no matter how fast or slow the current may be.

I wish every friendship I ever had could be placed in the category of forever. But the older I get, the more I realize that some friendships are past their sell by date. How do you know?

The Superman/Wonder Woman Effect: While friendship does mean being there in time of stress, there are those who only remember your number when they need someone to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Your primary role in the friendship is savior. Phone calls or text messages usually begin with a "huge favor" and end with a "thanks, you're a lifesaver."

I was looking over my resume the other day and nowhere on it was I listed as a superhero. I don't meet the job description.

Where's Waldo? On the other hand, there are times when you will find yourself in a less than ideal situation. You want to cry, scream, vent or just talk to someone, ANYONE who understands why you feel the way you do. You call your friend and they seem...disinterested. You text them--their response?


Thanks, pal.

Six Degrees of Separation: Sometimes, there is no dramatic climax to a friendship. You just drift apart. Phone calls get shorter; lunches get postponed until the 30th of February and the extent of your relationship becomes likes on social media. You miss what you had, but you realize that your lives have changed. There is no sea of regret or feelings bombs--just a slight pang in your heart when you realize you haven't really talked to this person in months or years.

Note: this is the only acceptable slow fade that should ever occur in interpersonal relationships. Anything else is grounds for numerous passive-aggressive Facebook posts and tweets...and Instagram pictures with a sunset as the background and some "Oh no, not I/I will survive" motivational quote on it.  

When milk is no longer edible, what do you do?

 Put it back in the refrigerator because a day past the expiration date is not really that bad. Toss it in the trash. Pour it down the sink.

I can't advocate doing that with former friends. If I ever loved you at any time in life, I will always love you. But to continually place myself in the position of being hurt? That's cruel and unusual punishment.

I will pray for you.
I will wish you the best in life.
I will love you from a distance.
I will remind myself that friendship is always worth the risk.

Even when it expires.

Be Encouraged,


Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Old Shoes

Note: the following topic was requested by one of my best friends in the whole wide world. I'm honored that she thought of me to handle it....especially since I haven't written much in the past two months but shopping lists. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. 

I do not like buying shoes. This greatly disappoints my father, who is a shoe fanatic. My mother was as well, to the point that she would hide her newly purchased pumps in the car trunk and warn us not to tell how much she spent. But I never saw the point. To me, shoes are just....well, shoes. Eventually, even the best shoes start to fade or crack; they get smudges that no amount of shoe polish will hide; sometimes, they even start to pinch your pinky toe.

But you have to buy them. Walking around without shoes would make me Britney Spears.

Two years ago, I needed a new pair of workout shoes. After rolling my eyes at the exorbitant prices and the "air cushion Robotronic technology," I finally found a pair that suited me. They were comfortable, affordable AND they came in my favorite color. I snapped them up and immediately started to wear them everyday.

When I put them on, I felt great. I felt like they made me run faster, jump higher and look sort of sexy while doing it. I received lots of compliments about my new shoes, to the point where people wanted to know exactly where I purchased them. They were absolutely, positively perfect.

For awhile.

Eventually, I noticed my shins starting to hurt after a long run. I assumed I just needed to stretch more, so I did. I changed my posture; I even tried a different running trail. Still, my shins continued to throb. I finally realized that the source of my shin ache happened to be my beloved shoes. I was crushed. Was it time to toss my super sneakers?


The beginning of a relationship is the kind of stuff dreams are made of. If I could bottle that "butterflies in your stomach/can't eat/can't sleep" euphoria, I would be a billionaire. Everyone wants to feel that way. In fact, everyone needs to feel that way at least once in their life. Even the memory of it will make you smile.

But the feeling cannot last forever. Soon enough, you discover that your sweetie is....*gulp*....not flawless. She doesn't drink anything but Fresca. He never misses an episode of American Idol. She does not understand why you think wrestling is real.

He is a Lakers fan. 

Disappointed? A little. Reason enough to end it? Absolutely not.

I know we all toss around the phrase "nobody's perfect," which is very true. However, we need to add an addendum to that statement, especially in regards to relationships: "....and no one is ever going to be just like you."

As much as I love me some K. Marie, I could never date someone exactly like me. That would be terrifyingly frustrating. Only one person gets to be sullen and moody until they get their morning coffee and that's me.

So, what do you do when the relationship is no longer new? You accept the newness of your current state.
Girlfriend, you already know he enjoys spending time with you. Brother, you know longer have to play your highlight reel on dates--she's still captivated by the ordinary in your life. And HALLELUJAH, you don't always have to plan these epic dates. Sitting on the couch watching the NBA finals--in basketball shorts, sans makeup--feels just as nice as dancing until dawn in six-inch heels.

It's still a little scary, taking off the mask and revealing this multifaceted, sometimes fragile, sometimes stubborn, sensitive person. But it's you.

No longer new, but deliciously real.

It's comfortable, just like that old pair of shoes.

Even though my shoes no longer worked for running, they were too cute to toss. So, I incorporated them into other parts of my life. They are perfect for a day of catching sales at the outlet mall. They work well for Casual Fridays, with my jeans and a witty t-shirt. They are the shoes that I keep in my car when I am wearing heels...because eventually, they are coming off.

No longer new.

Still perfect for me.

To those of you who are in relationships, I wish you many moments of comfort, love and happiness with your shoes.

And to those of us who are not in relationships?

Keep your eyes and your heart open. You haven't tried on every shoe just yet.

Always Encouraged,


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oatmeal Dreams

As I was stuck in traffic this morning, I took a few moments to talk to God. As I prayed, I felt the urge to pray for myself. Sometimes, I forget to do that…but today, I felt like God really wanted to hear the issues of my heart. Traffic started to move and I ended my talk with God. I felt good.

I looked to my left and noticed a billboard—one I have probably passed 100,000 times. But today, two words stood out to me:



*Cue the internal monologue*

What’s wrong with my dreams? I mean, they are nice and regular. They are the things that everybody wants. They won’t push me too far out of my comfort zone; the chance for failure is minimal. My dreams are average. Bland. Safe. 

That’s not the definition of a dream.

It is, however, the perfect description of oatmeal.
I rediscovered oatmeal at a time when everything else was making me sick. I tried a bowl and…nothing happened.

No rumbling.

No searing pain.

No….well, I’ll just let you speculate about the other symptoms.

I was nervous, so I waited a few hours just to be sure. I was still okay! I felt more relief than Alka Seltzer. I decided right then that I would eat oatmeal every single day for the rest of my life!

For about two weeks, everything was great. Then, I got bored.  I tried to jazz it up a little—throw in some fruit; add a little cinnamon.  I even added a small amount of milk (I’m severely lactose intolerant) to change the consistency. It still smelled like oatmeal. It still tasted like oatmeal. It was still oatmeal. In a world of thousands of choices, I grew resentful of the fact that oatmeal was my culinary lot in life.

I wanted to drop-kick the Quaker Oats man in his forehead.

A funny thing happened when I talked to my doctor about my digestive issues. She confirmed that I was truly lactose intolerant—of course, I already knew that—but my other problems might have less to with what I was eating and more to do with how I ate.

I hope someone gets where I’m going with this….

Some of us are so quick to throw away our dreams because they do not happen at our preferred pace. Or, there are those of us (like me) who manage down our dreams to what everyone else deems acceptable.

Need some real-life examples?

That job? Nah….too far out of your reach. Stay in the same field; take that lateral move. 

Buy a house?!?! In this economy? No, just keep renting (and putting money in someone else’s pockets, but I digress).

And my favorite….

You want to get married?!?!? But….but….half of all marriages end in divorce! You could get your heart broken! No, it’s better to just take whatever you can get! 



I don’t know about everybody else, but I am sick and tired of oatmeal dreams. I think it’s time to look in the mirror, take a deep breath and say:

“I don’t want what everyone else wants for me. I want what God has for me….and it ain’t oatmeal.”

It won’t always be easy.
People will talk about you.
You might not get there on the first try…or the second….or even the fifteenth.
Go anyway.

For those of you who are wondering my doctor advised me to do three things:
· Change my posture.
· Slow down…and don’t bite off more than I can chew.
· Reduce my portions.

If you're wondering how that advice worked for me, let me just say it like this: today, I had turkey sausage for breakfast.

Be Encouraged,


Sunday, March 3, 2013

The One Who Endures

Note: Happy New Year! LOL. I realize it has been months since I blogged and I could give about three million reasons why. Instead, I'll just commit to finding the time to write. You can't get better without practice...which is probably why I only played the clarinet for two years. 

A good friend of mine pushed me to do something beyond my wildest dreams: sign up for a half-marathon. I'm not exactly a running novice. I have participated in a few 5Ks and I love to run in the spring, summer and even fall.  But there's something so brutal about running during the winter months. Your skin gets chapped. Your hands are frozen. Tears slide down your cheeks. Your nose runs. Your lungs struggle to adapt to that frigid air. That "gentle breeze" which provides welcome relief the rest of the year now feels like punishment.

That mummy you've seen running around Lake Hefner every Saturday morning? That would be me.

It's been said that the greatest athletes in the world often have a catchphrase that keeps them going; a few words they can draw upon in the most grueling moments of competition to remind them why all of the pain is worth it. I'm not an elite athlete, but I do have a phrase.

Keep going. 

I figured out a long time ago that if I stop or even allow myself to hesitate for a moment, I will stop running. For me, there's no such thing as a quick break--I'm either running all the way or walking. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking, it won't help me reach my goal. I've got to keep running.

Keep going. 

And such is life. Personally, there are at least three things in my life at the present moment that seem too difficult for me. While on the trail of everyday, I have been repeating all the wrong phrases:

It's too hard.
What if people judge me?
Remember the last time I tried...and failed?
What if I fail again?

My thoughts are causing me to break stride.

Thankfully, there is a voice that calls out to me in the lowest moments--those times when I'm not running, walking or even crawling. As I stand still, I hear those two words; a simple command to lead me where He wants me to be.

Keep going. 

Maybe you're not running a marathon, but you are trying to start your own business at a time when the media says you're crazy to do it. Perhaps you want to get out of a dead-end relationship...or find the courage to love again. Maybe you are desperately trying to break free from some addiction or stronghold in your life when it seems like everyone else around you views it as no big deal.

I have two words for you--not from me, but from my Coach.

Keep going. 

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."--Philippians 3:14

See you at the finish line.

Be Encouraged,