Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Tailgaters & Horn Layers…This Is To You~ May 12, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:50 am

imageThere is an issue that I think needs some attention: road rage! Normally, I don’t let these sort of things bother me. Today, however, all I can think about are my 3 soon to be licensed drivers.
This morning I had a teenage girl ride my bumper down the main road,(speed limit 50), all the way into the school parking lot. Immediately, she whipped around me into her assigned lot. Nice. Brand new driver has already mastered the art of tailgating. Upon leaving the school, I had a woman do the exact same thing until I turned off, at which point she laid on the horn like I was somehow in the wrong for obeying the speed limit. Gee, I wonder where our young drivers are picking up these habits?!
Part of me wanted to hop back on the road and follow her. Mainly because I wanted to know if she was a mom. If so, how might she feel if she had a son or daughter who was just learning and someone did to them like she did to me? Driving is a huge responsibility that people take way too lightly. One mistake can cost someone their lives. I am a seasoned driver so things like impatient drivers don’t affect me. But my kids?? An angry adult blaring their horn & following close enough to swap paint would fluster them, no doubt.
So here’s my question to all of you out there on the roads today….why is your time and life more valuable than that of my children? Where do you need to be that is so pressing that you’re willing to act a fool, driving recklessly, to shave literal seconds off your arrival time?
Parents, please, teach your new drivers about the realities of following too closely. Veteran drivers, just relax. Set a better example for the kids who are sharing the roads. You’ll get to your destination eventually. Wouldn’t you rather get there a minute or two late than end up with your teeth in your dash or worse yet, mowing someone’s kid down?!
Drive cautiously. Sincerely, a terrified mother.

 

~Exhausted Mom Tips~ March 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:06 am
Tags: , , , , ,

The last 12 hours have worn this momma slap out! Before I dive into my mom tips, you need the backstory.

Last night, while making breakfast for dinner, I was pulling double duty and having my 5 year old do her reading books at the table.

“Buh-uh-buh-buh-la-eh”

Enter two teenagers with packets about registering for classes NEXT YEAR.

“What?! Say it again!”

And she did, louder and slower than the first time.

Grounded sister wails from the back of the house.

“I have no clue what you’re saying! Spell it.”

My gravy was at the critical point here, so it’s not like I could just walk away and look at the word. I try to quickly grab something from the freezer and ice cream falls out on my feet.

“B-u-b-b-l-e.”

Now I’m all about my little kindergartener learning to read but sometimes you just want to scream, “sweet Jesus, it’s bubble!!!”

Later in the evening…all is quiet and a thunderstorm erupts. Big black dog turns into tiny lap dog at the crack of thunder. So instead of peaceful slumber, my night was filled with a pacing pup that intermittently jumped on the bed, whimpering and vibrating like a wind-up toy.

So let’s just say this morning was off. I’m trying to balance the checkbook and thought everyone was getting ready. Y’all know what they say about assumptions?? I bellow, “last call,” and realize youngest daughter is chilling in her pjs, chatting with big sister about the caboodle she wants for her birthday. Jesus take the wheel. I have never dressed a child so fast in my life. I yank Emma’s hair into a side pony for Eighties Day and we race out the door, late. I throw the car in reverse, looking into a mirror for the first time today.

Oh. Lawd.

Now for the tips….

  1. Upon realizing you look a hot mess, throw on some shades. Then it looks intentional instead of like you forgot to brush your hair.image
  2. It’s totally acceptable to throw four cartons of ice cream across the room because someone left just enough to say they didn’t eat it all and now they’re cascading out onto your toes.
  3. When it’s “throwback Thursday” on the radio, it’s wise to remember your teens have cell phones at the ready to make you a Snapchat feature. Better hone your car dancing skills. (WordPress said you can’t see the video so only my Facebook peeps will experience that pleasure.)
  4. Lastly, for now: laugh at yourself, hug your babies when they’re on your last nerve and thank Jesus for sunglasses, coffee, 90s hip-hop¬†& grace.
 

~Mommin’ Is Hard~ February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:09 am
Tags: , , , ,

Lately I find myself alternating between wanting to trade in my kids for billy goats and refraining from wrapping around their legs so they can never leave. I attribute this to the fact that my baby is in kindergarten while my eldest is halfway through his sophomore year of high school. Every day is met with it’s own challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to parent wildly different kids across an impressive age gap, I’m battling my own emotional chaos. I LOVE my babies; fiercely, wholly, without exception. But (y’all knew a but was coming) they exhaust me. My days are filled with fits and back talk, timeouts and tears, carpools and practices…fleeting moments are mine alone and sometimes those are wasted on my own tears. All because I’m 100% positive I’m doing it all wrong.

I yell too much. I don’t pray over them enough. I’m a nag about their chores, their eating habits, their school work, etc, etc. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. Oh, you failed your test? Totally my bad. Your knees are acting up again? I should just buy you new ones, that’ll fix them! You don’t have supplies for your project due tomorrow? How could I not use my mind reading powers to anticipate your every need? I’m such a loser!

While I am being a bit facetious, I am seriously terrified that when they leave, they’ll never come back and yet I can’t stop parenting and just be their BFF. You see my conundrum?!

This is where a couple of choice friends “come in clutch” as the teenagers say. (My kids are rolling their eyes if they’re reading this.)
I know when “those” days strike, I have a beautiful support system that will talk me off my ledge and remind me it’s not okay to use your kids as bartering tools or try to sell them on Etsy. ūüėČ

Hold on mommas, we’re not as screwed up as we think we are. Do you, pray A LOT, pick your battles and find a solid friend to vent to. Do those things and we might all just make it out of this parenting gig alive and at least mostly intact.

image

“Discipline your children while you still have the chance;¬†indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 18-19 The Message)

 

~Crying Over A Cow~ February 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:56 pm

There’s nothing like a moo-cow standing in front of your daughters’ school to bring tears to your eyes. The Chick-Fil-A cow, that is, wearing a sandwich board showing support for a student battling cancer…for the second time.

I fought back the waterworks until I was alone, then I let them slide down my face. I cried for this little boy & his family who are fighting this nasty disease. I cried over the display of love this community has shown to a family that most may not even know. I cried out of gratitude for my own son who was plagued with a mystery illness a few years back but was miraculously healed just as quickly as he’d been struck down.

The truth of the matter is, life is short, sometimes painfully so. We don’t have to know someone personally to feel empathy for what they’re facing. If it’s within your ability to love a little stronger & feel a little deeper, (and trust me, it is), then do it. Dine at the restaurant that is donating 100% of their profits to a sick kiddo. Run the race that benefits cancer research. Drop a bag of dog food at the local shelter. Put together a care package for a soldier defending our rights. The list could go on but the point remains the same. One day we might find ourselves in a similar situation, looking for a ray of hope in some dark place. So love one another in whatever way you can. If you can’t give funds, give time. If you can’t give time, hug a neck or say a prayer. Love knows no limits and has no guidelines. Just show up & do something.

image

 

~When Sadness Overshadows Your Holiday~ November 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:52 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes holidays can make us sad, for any number of reasons. It can be all to easy to settle into that sadness, allowing it to steal our joy. So many of you have sufficient cause to be a bit down today. Your newsfeed will be flooded with images of happy families and perhaps you’re missing part of yours this year. It’s ok to miss them but try not to let it be all consuming, to the point you lose out on what is right in front of you. Regardless of what may be making a run at your joy today, surely there is at least one thing for which you can give thanks. Give yourself permission to mourn what is absent then shift your focus to what is present. I pray your blessings are more than enough today and everyday that follows.

 

image

Thankful I get to celebrate with these lovelies.

 

~Take The Time~ November 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:02 am

The driving force behind my blog is a desire to share life experiences in hopes of helping others live out the day to day tough stuff, which in turn helps me also! I opened with that because this post has a slightly different tone, being a bit more personal than my norm, but I’m calling myself on the carpet and bringing you along with me.

So, I noticed something out of the ordinary a few days ago. I figured it was nothing and ignored it because let’s face it, I’m busy and didn’t want to add another “to do” to my list. But here we are, one week later and it’s seriously nagging at me, not from a place of fear but at the realization that if this were one of my kids, I would have already had it checked. However, when it comes to my own ailments, I tend to be rather blas√©. I have actually scheduled an appointment for this one which is a big deal seeing as I also have an aversion to doc visits, no offense to my super awesome doctor friends.

Here’s the thing, most days my focus is on someone other than me. I don’t say this to gloat or paint myself in some Mother Theresa-like image. Nearly every momma I know is exactly the same! I am simply saying that I don’t often place an emphasis on my own needs. I don’t even know the last time I had a haircut! Yes, haircuts and doctor visits are like apples & oranges, just using that example to make a point. I don’t carve out time for me; not because I’m oh so selfless, more like I rarely want it & enjoy when I’m doing for others. Add to the equation the number of office visits I sit through for the kids, you have one more reason I really can’t fathom another waiting room. Who’s with me?!

Enough of my excuses.

More than likely I’ll go to this appointment and they’ll tell me I drink too much coffee, don’t sleep enough & have too much stress in my life. After I get over the audacity of someone saying the phrase “too much coffee” to my face, I’ll choose to see this as a wake up call. While my people do need my attention & focus, I can’t very well give it to them if I’ve completely neglected my own wellbeing. How can I legitimately argue the point that I don’t have time for an hour office visit once a year anyhow? I’m fussing at you too! I know full well I am not the only one who puts off taking care of their own vessel. I love you, friends. Your family needs you, your friends need you, the world needs you & I FREAKIN NEED YOU! Please, please take care of you, even with just a fraction of the effort you put into taking care of others. If you are guilty like me of forgoing a yearly checkup that no one really looks forward to, put on your big girl (or guy) pants and get it over with! You are worth it!

image

 

~Make It Stop~ November 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

I am sick to death of bullying!! I considered adding a few colorful words to embellish on that opening line to grasp your attention, making sure my point was clear because I am absolutely disgusted!

I know some of you may read into this and question who ruffled my feathers this morning. Allow me to clarify that while there have been some instances where the bullying has hit my own home, this goes far beyond the reaches of my little corner of the world.

It seems no one is off limits from the grasp of a bully. The workplace, the classroom, the ball fields, the canned goods aisle at the grocery store…all prime locations for the bully to strike. Under no circumstances is it ever ok to assert your dominance over another’s perceived weakness! Not ever. All bullying is wrong but for me personally, the worst is when someone in authority abuses their power, especially in the case of adult/child relationships. Can we just stop it already?! I would rather EARN someone’s respect than scare them into submission.

This is about more than just one specific offense. It’s the day after day reports of kids taking their lives over bully assaults. It’s the social media posts attacking everyone who doesn’t think like you or look like you. It’s the constant negativity in general that is simply exhausting. Words, said face to face or behind ones’ back, can be damning. Hateful stares leave lasting impressions. Physical altercations can instill fear and mistrust for a lifetime.

Maybe we should all step up to the challenge to intervene when we see bullying firsthand or at the very least, ensure we aren’t part of the problem. BE the change. Speak up amongst the silence. Fight for the underdog. And for the love of all that is good and holy, when you can not say something nice, than please just be quiet.image

 

~Goosfraba~ September 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:49 am

Most of you know that my family relocated a few months ago. New town means new schools for my kiddos. Shocking as this may be, it would appear that drop off/pickup is just as cray-cray as it was in our hometown, possibly even more so! The schools here are ginormous so there is a massive amount of congestion. In my opinion, the staff does a stellar job at keeping things moving with smiles on their faces. Well, apparently one daddi-o did not think so this morning.

Cue the music…

It’s a beautiful day outside and most parents I passed were still flying high from our glorious 3 day weekend. I walked my littles to their classrooms and made my way back to the car where my 2 teens waited for their turn. As I approached, I noticed the both of them hunkered down in their seats, shoulders shaking. 

“What in the world are y’all doing?!”

“Oh my gosh Mom, don’t look!”

It was in that moment that a flurry of movement caught my eye. So here we are, chilling in a parking spot and the line is moving around the perimeter. The driver directly in front of me was apparently waiting to park to walk his wee babes in. Judging by the level of flailing coming from behind the steering wheel, he’d been waiting just a tad too long. I promise you I tried my level best not to laugh, but I ain’t never! Hand gestures, wheel beatin’, red faced hollerin’…and I could see the little heads in the backseat, perfectly still. I for real thought this fella was going to explode, his blood pressure had to be through the roof. I desperately wanted to go tap on his window and let him know it was all gonna be alright. Goosfraba, man, goosfraba. (A line from Anger Management used to calm oneself down.)

Then it stopped being funny. I totally understand the pressure of being crunched for time. I haven’t the faintest idea why this guy was so frantic but it was obvious he was running late for something. I also know what a crappy start can do for the rest of your day and that’s why I stopped giggling. The kids in that car probably didn’t have the greatest morning. I know my kids go totally silent when I’m having one of those mornings. They end up walking away from me with a not-so-smiley face, usually heads hanging and looking defeated. How’s that for a wake up call?!

So I turned up the tunes and car-danced my way to the high school, trying my best to be positive. As all of you parents know, mornings are TOUGH. Some days it’s all we can do to make it out the door much less do it with a smile but it’s important. Our kids are looking to us to see how we react to any given situation. If we explode over every little nuisance that disrupts our day, they’ll learn to do the same. We have no control over the speed bumps we encounter throughout our days but we can control our responses. I have spent most of my adult life being wound so tight that I’ve caused myself and my family undue stress. So my goal, and it’s a working goal, is to learn to roll with it. Most days our routine goes off without a hitch so why go all Incredible Hulk on the rare occasion that it doesn’t?! I can assure you that raging won’t get you where you’re going any faster but it will leave a nasty impression on whoever is in your line of fire. And while I totally respect the importance of being punctual, let’s not allow that to take precedence over a happy, healthy start to each day for ourselves & our tribes.  

Calm. Down.

 

~Empathy instead of pride~ August 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

About a month ago, something happened that made me withdraw from posting for a bit. I was so furious that I knew if I tried to write about it, all that would come across was my complete outrage. I try to encourage with the things that I post and when the wound was fresh, I didn’t have it in me to be Miss Susie Sunshine. So I guess I should begin with “the incident.”

My girls went out for ice cream with Nana & Papa Losh. Hubs and I were out with the boys so we were unaware of what had happened until it was all said and done. All was going well with the excursion until my youngest went to throw away her trash. As they went to leave, an older gentleman stopped my mother.

“Hey, that little girl right there…”

“Yes?”

“She flipped-off my wife!”

At this point, my little Bella dissolved into tears and buried her face into my mother’s legs.

“She’s only 5! She doesn’t even know what that means!!”

“Oh, she knew what she was doing”

“Are you serious, you are making a child cry!”

So this dude was relentless. A grown man made a child cry and he was quite indignant about it. He was proud of himself even. Somehow, my mom managed to keep her composure and get the girls out before she decked the guy in their presence. Papa Losh fired off a “shut your mouth” as the bully continued his rant as they were attempting to leave. Other patrons of the restaurant sat stunned at this guy’s over the top reaction to an obvious misunderstanding. What this man didn’t know was that my girl points with her middle finger. As a matter of fact, all of my kids did when they were younger.

I’m sure every parent out there can imagine my reaction to this story as it unfolded. Every part of me wanted to race to the ice cream shop in hopes that the man was still there so I could tell him what a stand up guy he was. Quite honestly, the only reason hubs &¬†I didn’t bolt¬†was because¬†too much time had passed. So instead, we all fumed about what kind of human being could be smug about making a little girl cry. We all loved on Bella and explained to her that¬†sometimes, people are just mean.

After this, every interaction I saw online seemed to be people attacking each other. Fights were ¬†breaking out over politics and¬†social movements, insults were thrown around as if they were no big deal, and people’s feelings were being hurt, intentionally. Over and over again and I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t encourage because I was so completely¬†discouraged myself.

I know without a doubt that¬†I have hurt people. I’ve made people cry, most often the ones I love the most. In spite of this truth, I can say with complete certainty¬†that I have never once felt good about being responsible for someone’s pain. I could not wrap my mind around the level of meanness I was seeing,¬†first with¬†the ice cream debacle¬†and then online. All I could picture when watching these fights fester was my little girl’s face all scrunched up and tear streaked and the face of a stranger, grinning smugly at his accomplishment. So I withdrew. I limited my contact with the outside world and skimmed over every post that appeared inflammatory. No part of me could comprehend what would inspire satisfaction, knowing that you were the cause of another’s pain.

During this time, what I’ve come to realize is, we can’t possibly understand why people hurt each other. We are meant to be empathetic, compassionate and do our best at making the world we live in a better place. My mom could have blessed that man out. I could have weighed in on the online attacks, berating the parties for their behavior. But what good would have come from that? In either circumstance, all we would have done was add to the hurt and anger and chaos.

My blood still boils when I think of my baby hurting at the expense of another’s poor choices. I still can’t say what I would have done had it been me that he addressed. My heart still aches when I see friends become enemies over¬†opposing views.¬†All I can say at this point¬†is that I think it’s sad to look around and see people feeling prideful about their ability to inflict pain. It does happen, often, but even in our anger, even when it’s justified, if we dissolve someone to tears, can we at least try to be empathetic? Just try,that’s all any of us can ever¬†do. angelou

 

 

~Admitting Ignorance and Seeking Forgiveness~ July 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:58 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

“She and Molly are about as opposite as it is possible to be, which would be fine if Dina didn’t take Molly’s choices as a personal affront.”

It’s been a couple months now since I finished reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline that my friend, Julia, sent to me. I remember reading the above excerpt and feeling an immediate check in my spirit. With the recent events in the news, I was reminded once again of this line. 
Being polar opposites would not be an issue if we weren’t so quick to take offense to one another’s choices. When I peruse social media, that’s exactly what I see. People on opposing sides berating each other in attempts to defend “their side.” I’m all for a good debate, the problem is when it gets personal and turns into a name-calling show down. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them an idiot. You see this in response to all manner of topics: politics, religious beliefs, parenting styles, lifestyle choices…I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture. 
We live in a diverse nation. We have an opportunity to learn & grow from our differences or we can segregate ourselves, choosing to shut out anyone who doesn’t fit the same mold. 
I will be the first to admit that I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. I grew up in a small, Southern town. I am NOT knocking that, I loved my small town life! However, the minority population was small and not particularly diverse as was the LGBTQ community. So it’s fair to say I’m pretty uneducated when it comes to the issues they face because I’ve not experienced it firsthand. I’m going to admit something that’s really hard to say, my lack of knowledge has at times come across as fear. Allow me to elaborate. When you grow up being the majority and having no real exposure to different cultures, all you “know” is what you watch or read. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many positive stories about Muslims, African-Americans or the LGBTQ community. I want to change that perception by doing my part to see people for who they are, not their skin tone, religious coverings, whose hand they choose to hold or any other “book covers” that would cause me to make unfair categorizations. 
I hope that my willingness to admit my own ignorance will open others to the same. I know I can never truly understand the level of discrimination others face. I can do better at being a friend to all and not making assumptions based on preconceived notions that have no real basis other than my irrational fears derived from biased news coverage.  

 For those who have been on the receiving end of my ignorance, I ask for your forgiveness & the opportunity to show I can be a better version of myself. Let’s all look for ways to love one another today BECAUSE of our differences.