The Icing on the Cake

Idioms are widely used in conversations between family, friends, and colleagues with regularity. These groups of words have a meaning that strays significantly from those of the individual words. In my day-to-day conversations, I often take for granted how confusing these phrases might be to the English language learner or my own seven year old, for that matter.

“Umm, mom. I’m not sure how it can be raining cats and dogs. All I see is a bunch of water?”

Because I’m always looking for unique blog content. I thought it might be fun to include some of my favorite idioms that I can find parallel with in my daily life. So lend me your ear as I go out on a limb. My hope is you will understand the method to my madness when it’s all said and done.

Birds of a feather flock together 

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It makes perfect sense that people with similar passions find solidarity pursuing the things they love most in life. Interestingly my tribe of running buddies truly are birds. We are the Bayou City Road Runners, to be specific. My love of long distance running has allowed me the opportunity to cultivate some incredible friendships. Shared mileage and post run coffee breaks have always provided the perfect blend for friendships that go the distance.

Best of both worlds

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In life there is nothing better than sharing quality time with the one’s you love while also being able to check something important off of your to do list. Case in point, knocking out a long run as you chase your son through the neighborhood on his go cart. This definitely offers the best of both worlds.

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Chasing rainbows

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Chasing rainbows is all about following your dreams. Even at thirty-five, I continue to chase personal bests and first place finishes. It’s important to always set goals and put the wheels in motion. Continue to dream big and chase those rainbows with gusto. You will set an incredible example for those around you, and inspire others to dream big too.

Getting a second wind

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When you work full-time and also balance a spouse, children, and a home life, almost daily, you are counting on that second wind to kick in. For children, this proverbial second wind often morphs into a third and fourth wind. Ah to be so young and carefree! Truthfully though, finding that second gear is an integral part of managing all of the facets of my life. Granted this second wind may take more coffee than it used to, but I still find myself digging deep for that second wind when I need it most to get through a particularly long day.

Hold your horses

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Children have a way of forcing us to find moments to pause in life and see the world from their vantage point. Their beautiful world is full of joy and wonder. Their lives are simpler and unencumbered by schedules and mile long ‘to do’ lists. In their own perfect little way, they monopolize the market on holding their horses. We could take note, and try to follow suit by giving ourselves the opportunity to reflect on the little moments in our day. Find time to slow down long enough to appreciate a gorgeous sunset or a perfect full moon illuminating the night sky.

Be patient. You never know what might come your way if you allow yourself to wait it out.

Every cloud has a silver lining

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This is one of my favorite idioms because it is a conscious choice we make to look at the situation in a positive way. Choose to be hopefully optimistic. Even the most difficult of times will lead to better days. Take for example, the muddy mess that happened when Atticus slipped in the mud last spring at the state track meet. I could have panicked, especially because I didn’t have a spare change of clothes on hand. But how could I rain on his little parade. He was having the time of his life running around, and he couldn’t care less about being covered in mud. Every cloud has a silver lining even if it’s a messy one!

Over the moon

When someone is over the moon, they are beyond pleased and incredibly happy. I am blessed to have two sweet boys who live out most days in this elated state of happiness. I treasure every smile, every belly laugh, and every moment of ecstatic wonder to the absolute fullest. This approach to life makes every day a little sweeter and a little more memorable.

Without a doubt, idioms clearly are a regular part of my storytelling and daily conversation. They offer a unique perspective of looking at life that is candid and refreshing. It’s the icing on the cake!

 

Through the Eyes of a Child

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I often say life would be more pure if we looked at the world through the eyes of a child. Their innocence, heart, enthusiasm, and curiosity set the stage for a worldview that vastly differs from our vantage point as adults. Perhaps though, if we allowed ourselves to be more childlike, our perspective about life would follow suit.

In order to consider this new frame of reference, perhaps we need to recognize what the world of a child truly has to offer. What better way to gain invaluable knowledge and insight than through some of my personal favorite children’s books. Take a walk with me through the colorful and imaginative world of children’s fiction, and see where it might take you!

Beautiful OOPS! by Barney Saltzberg

Let’s start with a Beautiful Oops! A book that resoundingly encourages you to embrace the beautiful mistakes you make in life. What a truly lovely sentiment! If only we could all adopt such a positive approach to human errors. This book undoubtedly appeals to the preschool age child with its unique approach to smudges of paint, torn paper, unexpected spills, and other messy mistakes. However, the theme of this book not only encourages one to adopt a growth mindset but also to have fun growing and learning from the mistakes you make along the way.

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Pete the Cat Go, Pete, Go! by James Dean

What better way to learn about taking life in stride and enjoying the experiences as they come your way then from the perspective of a overly optimistic cat named Pete. Rarely does he let stress or pressure steer him from his pursuits in life. Pete embodies kindness, authenticity, friendship, and a glass half full attitude. We could all take a few notes on his idealistic approach to life. It is refreshingly simple and a way of living so many of us could benefit from.

“The roses are just so beautiful… He has to stop to smell them.”

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The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This classic favorite encourages us to open ourselves up to love even though you might end up hurt or let down at some point by the ones we love. If only we could allow ourselves to love without condition, selflessly giving every part of ourselves to improve someone else’s life.

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

This lovely story transports us into a fantastical world of books. The main character spends his time doctoring old books, befriending forgotten novels, and bringing light to neighbors and friends who need a good story to lift up their spirits. Most importantly though, this story highlights the importance of our own life story. The story we write through our words and actions!

“Everyone’s story matters,” said Morris.

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Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Floyd’s story starts when his bright red kite gets stuck in a tree. This comical story demonstrates how problem solving does not always come in a neat, linear package. While his approach could appear flawed, his relentless pursuit to retrieve his kite from the tree allows us to smile and appreciate the beauty and simplicity of a child’s approach to life.

Floyd’s unconventionality and sheer determination illuminate how we, as adults, should also approach difficulties in life. We must continue to persevere, refuse to back down, and ultimately find a solution that works for us.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss 

This book is one of the most gifted graduation presents for a very good reason. It opens our eyes to the endless possibilities that lie ahead for us. This book serves as a metaphor for life and illustrates the tight rope we walk balancing life’s responsibilities. It encourages us to take life as it comes, to expect hardship, but to also trust in our abilities to overcome.

Life is not just about the journey. It is about the destinations we end up at whether by chance or by choice. It is about how we embrace the beautiful moments, accept and learn from the difficult parts, and ultimately become the best version of ourselves because of the experiences that mold and shape us!

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett

Life is an adventure, and Sam and Dave illuminate this perfectly. Armed with shovels and a backpack with animal crackers and chocolate milk, these two boys set out to discover what lies beneath.

Throughout the book, you wonder how they would feel if they realized how close they are at every turn to uncovering buried treasure. And yet, despite their rigorous efforts, they never actually happen upon any treasure. This viewpoint clearly takes on the persona of an adult because for the boys they find something spectacular because they never started this journey with any expectation other than to have fun.

What a refreshing approach to life Sam and Dave embrace! If only, our adult selves could look at life through the same lens. Life would be “pretty spectacular.”

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In my Heart A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

The main character of this book describes the big and little feelings she encounters every day. She encourages her readers to consider their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions on her creative journey embracing and accepting these feelings. She unravels a story so similar to what each and every one of us encounters on a daily basis: anger, hope, happiness, fear, humor, shyness, courage, peace, and hurt. Her simplistic approach to very real and oftentimes deep feelings spotlights the realness and importance these emotions play in our own lives. If we allowed ourselves to consider our emotions through the eyes of a child, perhaps we could also give ourselves permission to acknowledge these feelings and how they shape and propel us through life.

“My heart is full of feelings.”

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The Girl who Ran by Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee

Literature should inspire us and motivate us to aspire for more. This book checks all the boxes for a truly inspirational read based on a very real heroine, Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. This book is a must read for all women no matter how young or old because it masterfully and powerfully encourages us to refuse to settle for anything less than our best. No glass ceiling, no male authority figure, no obstacle at all can stand in the way of the dreams we have for ourselves as women. Never settle!

“She ran with a strength only hope can inspire, just her and the sound of the wind in the fire.”

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What the Dinosaurs did Last Night by Refe & Susan Tuma

Everyone needs humor in their lives. The more the better. Bring on the laugh lines, the belly laughs, and the absurdities of a fantastical, fictional story that will take you on a wild and messy adventure. But beware, the toy dinosaurs living in your children’s storage bins are waiting to wreak havoc on your home.

This book truly does bring a smile to your face as you consider the outrageous adventures a house full of toy dinosaurs can bring under one roof. Children, perhaps because they are unencumbered by the stresses of life, laugh often and with great gusto. Our lives, as adults, would be greatly changed for the better, if we also adopted this ability to laugh out loud more often and worry less about the little things.

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Normal Norman by Tara Lazar

This final book brings everything full circle with regards to approaching life as our children do. So often we outgrow the innocence and naivety that is an innate part of life as children. We allow our perceptions of what others will think to dictate how we live out our lives as adults. We worry too much about their opinions and their thoughts that we somehow lose sight of true selves.

Normal Norman illustrates just how easy it is for others to try and put us in a neat and tidy box. But we cannot and should not allow anyone else to make us feel like we need to be a different version of ourselves. Authenticity is far more valuable than any opinion someone else will ever have of us.

” ‘Normal’ is impossible to define.”

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While the intricacies of life do not always allow us to embrace life in a childlike manner, we should at least consider donning this hat when we can. After all, a life filled with laughter, vivid colors, and fantastical characters would make for a far more intriguing plot line then some of the real world drudgery that we often have to rub elbows with.

If life were a children’s book, it would be a much more pleasurable read than the realities of our non-fiction lives. With that being said, it’s never too late to rewrite our story!

Self Care Sunday

The practice of self care is a critical part of our overall well being. While the hustle and bustle of life as a wife and mother does not always lend itself to pursuing self care faithfully, it is something that truly should be at the forefront of our priorities. The pursuit of self care is not selfish but rather well-intentioned time that allows us to recharge and regroup.

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Photo credit: Chantelle Grady, Pinterest

As a counselor, I find myself always addressing this with students and clients. Oftentimes their stress and anxiety levels are magnified because they do not regularly make time for themselves. Only recently have I come to truly appreciate the time I dedicate to self care. Making time for myself allows me to be more mindful and grateful for purposeful time spent alone. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our day-to-day and try to guilt ourselves away from making time to unwind when the laundry list of to do’s lingers overhead.

While the practice of self care may sound daunting, it starts with some purposeful reflection. Self care will look and feel different for each and every one of us. If you are an avid reader, for example, self care may be an afternoon in a comfortable chair, wrapped in a cozy blanket paired with a steaming cup of hot tea and a good read. For the avid athlete, self care might be a slower paced workout enjoying a relaxing walk around a beautiful lake or a light hike getting lost in a picturesque trail of lush greenery.

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Photo credit: The Ascent

Self care truly can be anything that allows you time to unwind and purposefully recharge your batteries. Give yourself permission to light some candles and enjoy a hot bubble bath after your children are tucked in for the night. Make an effort to carve out at least one opportunity a week for self care. Many have embraced starting the week off with self care Sunday.

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Photo credit: Ted.com

The day and pursuit do not matter as much as carving out the time for you. Self care starts with you and can start today. I encourage you to put this intentional practice into motion. Not only will you experience the powerful benefits of self care but everyone else in your immediate circle will reap the benefits too. After all, a more patient, more grateful, more compassionate, and more kind wife and mother can only have a positive impact on those she shares her time and love with every day.

 

 

Follow your Heart

Blogging serves as a creative outlet for me. A way for me to touch people’s lives with my words and time stamp important memories in my life. For those of you who have followed me faithfully since A Mama Bear & Her Cubs was first created in late July 2017 , you’ve likely noticed an ebb and flow in the frequency of my posts.

To create a quality blog, it takes great dedication, meaningful content, and powerful images. Because of my Type A personality and perfectionist tendencies, I toil over the words until they are perfect. Mind you this is typically happening at the end of a long work day or while my two boys take their midday break for a nap or quiet time. I am often my toughest critic and therefore do not always feel like my words are ready for publication. In my busiest of times, I don’t always find the inspiration needed to create quality pieces. These are the moments that lead to a dip in my blog content.

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I find my family life and the little things that I encounter on a daily basis to be the best resource for content. Despite the fact that I faithfully maintain a blog, I rarely make time to discover new blogs. Mostly because I worry that the content I happen upon on other blogs may detract from my own creative process. This year to help me channel my thoughts and keep content fresh, I started keeping a notebook on hand to jot down ideas and things that inspire me along the way. This springboard for ideas has allowed me to easily put pen to paper (or more accurately clinking keys on my keyboard to piece together a blog post).

A Mama Bear & Her Cubs has slowly built a following, mostly from likeminded Mama Bears in my collective circles of friends and family. Because of social media, some of my posts have been shared and reposted on other pages and have reached record breaking views for me. I am sure that I could work harder to build my readership and even consider partnering with advertisers like so many other bloggers do. I choose, however, to focus on this blog for my own personal well-being and for the well-being of other women who read and find inspiration in my words.

Unfortunately we live in a culture where so often women are breaking other women down. I have focused my content on positivity because quite frankly we need more of that in our world and a whole lot less mean girl drama.

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Today’s post is probably the most basic and least powerful I’ve written since the inception of A Mama Bear & Her Cubs. But as always, there is a purpose and intention in the content I choose. My hope is that in reading today’s blog post, you will recognize the importance of pursuing your own passions in life. Do more of what makes you happy whether that’s through cooking, yoga, crafting, trail running, salsa dancing, yodeling…

Carve out time for the things that matter most to you. Don’t let your dreams and life pursuits be stifled because of a full-time job, responsibilities as a wife and mother, or anything else that might stand in your way. Take time to share, learn, and grow every day because your best self will allow you to be your best for the ones you love and care for every day. Be bold and follow your heart!

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A Beautiful Thing Happens…

In life, we do not have the luxury of choosing our family. We share the same DNA and other genetic traits, but we may not always share the same interests and life pursuits. Friendship, on the other hand, offers a unique and beautiful opportunity that grows and thrives because we have the distinct privilege to pick our tribe.

Friendships blossom and grow through hours and hours of shared laughter, tears (both happy and sad), and countless glasses of wine and coffee commiserating about our  hopes and dreams- both for ourselves and for one another. If we’re lucky, these friendships withstand the test of time growing and evolving as we do from childhood, to early adulthood, into midlife, and beyond.

Growing up, I admired and aspired to have the kind of powerful friend circles my mother kept. Women who were strong, beautiful, and hardworking. They were fierce women who balanced full-time careers, raising children, and making time to celebrate in each other’s special moments. These women took me under their wing and encouraged me along the way to pursue my dreams in life.

Although time zones and state lines separated these best friends from one another. Their friendship continues to thrive and grow some forty plus years since it began. We (my brother and I, the Bailey sisters, Ayala brothers, and Walker brothers) have all grown up as though we were a family calling ourselves cousins despite the fact that we do not share a common blood line. Most of us are married and raising our own babies now. And while state lines and time zones may stand in the way of us seeing one other with more regularity, our friendships continue to endure. We text often sharing anecdotes about motherhood. Our mothers and “aunties” chime in with words of affirmation and remind us that they too endured seasons of hardship as young mothers.

I value this shared friendship that I am blessed to be an intricate part of- a shared friendship that unites two generations of women. I still find myself deeply admiring the incredible friendship that roots these women together. In principle, we are not family and yet we love, support, and care for one another in exactly the same manner families do.

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In reflecting on this sisterhood I share with my mother’s best friends and their daughters, I find myself acknowledging a very powerful theme. A beautiful thing happens when your mother’s circle of friends becomes yours too. The circle of trust widens, the bonds deepen, and the laughter, support, and friendships continue to grow!

A Binge Reading Bookworm

As a binge reading bookworm, most evenings I find myself cozied up in bed with one of my latest page turners leading me out of my own life and into the imaginary setting in some far off place. Just like with the television shows many of us gravitate towards, naturally the types of genres we reach for often follow a similar pattern. I often toe the line between two polar opposites- the psychological thriller and the easy-to-read and even-easier-to-love “chick lit”.

Since having Atticus two years ago, I’ve traded most hard and paperback novels for the Kindle versions. While I do miss the feeling of the thin pages between my fingers and the satisfaction of seeing the progress I’m making as I become more and more entrenched in the plot line, I accepted that as a mama bear of a toddler reading on a Kindle is definitely more kid-friendly. I don’t have to fret over, “uh oh” moments, where my sweet little accidentally rips a key page out of one of my favorite books or decides to turn my book into a new football; launching my book into perpetuity with the bookmark slipping out halfway to the goal line.

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When 2018 came to a close, my Kindle app allowed me to revisit my literary journey over the last year. With as much as I read, I figured that I read about 20 books last year since I tend to average about two novels a month. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to discover that I had actually devoured 29 noteworthy pieces of literature. A feat I smiled about and promised myself in the moment that I would at least read that many in 2019.

To date, I’ve completed two books to kick off the new year. The first was Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. If you have not read this book, IT IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ. I’m kind of yelling but mostly highlighting how incredibly important it is for you to rush out and get your hands on this book.

Girl, Wash Your Face is hands down the most positive and inspiring book I have read in a very long time. Reading this book will inspire, empower, and encourage you to seek out the absolute best version of yourself. You will laugh (out loud), you will likely be moved to tears (at least once), and you will put this book down feeling ready to change the world. If you aren’t an avid reader like me or truly don’t have the time for reading in this season of your life, then this is truly the only book you need to carve out time for in 2019.

Run over to Target, order it on Amazon, or download it on Kindle, now. It will truly change your life!

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Today on my lunch break, I finished Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. This one came highly recommended by my cousin, Veronica. For a full-time working mother, this book was pure fantasy for me. The excess, extravagance, and couture are so outside of my ether, but it was easy to get lost in a plot line with some very spicy family drama and extra saucy characters.

Kwan’s descriptions of the palatial homes, distinct Asian dishes, and the exotic excursions made me want to back an overnight bag and catch a red eye to Singapore to experience this colorful culture in person. This fun, light read will pull at your heart strings in surprising ways, and you will find yourself rooting for the female lead, Rachel Chu, from the beginning of the story all the way to the final pages of this book.

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Literature is a powerful medium that can truly transform our perspectives about the outside world. It can inspire us, empower us, transport us, and take us on a rollercoaster of emotions along the way. Taking time for ourselves to read is an important part of self-care. It’s also an incredibly important way to model the importance of reading for the little people in our lives. So for all of my other binge reading bookworms out there, keep on reading to your hearts content.

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Feel free to share some of your favorite reads in the comments section. There is no better way to find a good book than from a good friend.

 

If Life was a Black & White Photo…

Black and white photos tend to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. In the absence of color, our eyes hone in on an image that often tells a very distinct story. Imagine what it might be like if we looked at every life moment through this same lens.

If life were a black and white photo, a smile communicates happiness in its simplest and purest form. Upon closer inspection, the authenticity of their smiles are enhanced by the light in their eyes. In focusing on these two facial attributes, the observer easily finds themselves drawn into this circle of radiant joy.

Allow your eyes to consider the following images and see if you too find yourself encapsulated in happiness!

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If life were a black and white photo, an embrace or a hug epitomizes the sincerity and authenticity of loving thy neighbor. It is amazing how a single image can communicate love so simply and beautifully. Consider how much happier we would be if we allowed ourselves to relish in the company we keep; the unbreakable bonds that tie us together.

We need to allow ourselves time in our hectic schedules to pause enough to appreciate these tender moments with the ones we love. These sweet moments of embrace settle into the deepest parts of our hearts; allowing us to feel truly and deeply connected to the special people around us.

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If life were a black and white photo, it almost feels as though it could and would be simpler. Forging friendships as you walk hand in hand, sharing stories that spark imagination, and building an unbreakable bond as brothers. These are just a few of the the simplicities of life encapsulated in a black and white photo.

While it is easy to argue that life is far too complex and complicated to look at with such a simplistic eye, perhaps the real truth lies in how we truly allow ourselves to choose to see the world. True to the adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, we each have the power to determine how we look at the world we live in!

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