This is a speaker sheet. a.k.a. A shameless self promotion tool that I am using for the noble purpose of rescuing my husband from corporate America by utilizing my unique skill set to engage large collections of human beings for various lengths of time in exchange for US currency and hard laughing.
In an effort to make sense of the passing of time, and embrace the transaction taking place of youth for wisdom, I have assembled a non-comprehensive and somewhat unoriginal list of 40 things I have learned over my forty years.
Playing cards is more fun if you wear bright red lipstick and listen to Vicki Carr. A plate of cold cuts also improves game play–especially generic thin sliced honey ham. Aunt Helen would typically just throw some slices on a plate straight out of the plastic container, but I always thought that was cheating. I mean, how hard is it to roll the ham into little edible tubes? Come on Helen.
May I hon? “Hon” is the official term of endearment on my mother’s side of the family. It also makes any plea more palpable. Try it out.
“Get that for me!” (aggressive)
“Get that for me hon!” (adorable)
A Spotify playlist can never take the place of a solid mixed tape. I recently discovered a treasure trove of mixed tapes from my adolescence. Some carefully assembled with damn near professional transitions and others taken straight from the radio, with subtle static and the occassional commercial for Summer Jam. My husband continues to tease me about my cryptic labeling. But, I know what is on every one of those tapes. The Duality of Man is a tape my Dad made containing benign hip hop and ganster rap. Songs I Really Like to Listen to Right Now has a whole lot of Counting Crows, U2 and Radiohead on it. Then there is my neon pink and yellow tape with the label torn off, which we all know contains radio cuts of SWV, Mint Condition and some tracks off De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising record. The point is, my labeling system is consistent.
Always…Never…Sometimes…Life is wrought with nuance. There are very few always and nevers, and an abundance of sometimes. Getting rid of “You always…” and “You never…” allows for better marital problem solving and overall relational health.
I want to see other women as my sisters and not as my competitors. I am so competition averse that I actually end up thinking everything is a competition that I must avoid. Ironically, in that scenario, everything IS a competition. My solution? I don’t have one yet. I guess that is what the next forty years is for.
Parenting is hard, but I think that’s what I like about it. When taken seriously, it begs us to come to terms with our own short comings before they take up defensive position in our young. Love is the easy part, the existential reckoning, however, is a doozy.
“Patience is a virtue, a wait won’t hurt you. In the long run, it will serve you.” (Ladies and gentleman, the musical stylings of Soul II Soul — “Our Time Has Come”) I’m not naturally patient. This may be, in part, why I am not a skilled house keeper. If I have to wrestle a hanger for more than 15 seconds, that garment and its demon hanger are going to end up on the ground. Although I think I have become more patient with the humans I love, I am less patient with myself and people who drive slow in front of me.
I am only responsible for my own choices. I realize this is not a new novel idea, but those of you who know me, know this is hard for me. Really hard. I tend to think I am responsible for everything from poverty, to traffic, to lysteria outbreaks. I have a fun little Junior Jesus complex, as my friend Dee calls it. Fortunately, I am not the Messiah. In the coming decades I am going to try and focus less on single handedly solving the crisis in Syria and start by just remembering where I put my car keys.
In an argument, the first one to the cross wins. My brother-in-law, James, is the author of this life lesson and it works. When we turn towards grace, then anger starts to morph into something more like love–more like reconciliation. This is a marital game changer. Don’t fight to win. Fight to grow.
We bring weather with us wherever we go. Uncle Kenny shared this little gem with my daughter’s 4th grade class and it stayed with me. I am capable of producing all kinds of weather systems. I aim for sunshine, but am known to bring much rain (I am a big cryer). Occasionally, I have dropped a fat bomb cyclone on my kids, but I really try to save that for emergencies. We can’t always bring a sunny disposition but acknowledging that our mood and emotional energy affects the people we are around is important. If we can’t being sunshine at least we can have an umbrella handy for the people who will be in contact with our stormy moods.
Pain only knows itself. Pain is by nature self absorbed. I am much less hard on people in general having embraced this fun fact. It also has helped me to identify when my own pain blinds me to my affect on others. Then again, how would I know, if I am blind, who my pain might be hitting?
Music changes my mood. One way or another. I can manipulate the hell out of myself with it.
Our bodies age so that we learn to let go of the physical. I was complaining to my lovely mother about the various and sundry maladies that seem to be appearing weekly, if not daily on my personage. My mom, who is sixty two, agrees that it can be disconcerting at times, but insists that if I see it as letting go of the physical, of the trivial, of vanity, of the shell that houses my soul, I will start to see that I am growing into eternity. Just like I had to get really, really pregnant and uncomfortable before I was not only wiling, but desperate to push a human being out of my body– our bodies need to decline, so our souls can grow out of them. I am exchanging my body for my eternity. Seems like a pretty impressive exchange, except that the very concept of time and eternity makes my head want to explode…so the exchange seems mildly terrifying albeit a sweet deal.
Steeping garlic and tarragon in simmering milk and then pouring it over a bed of spring onions and crisped chunks of herbed bread and then smothering it with guerre cheese is…just….just…(insert extended guttural utterance indicating bliss here). Thanks for this Momma.
Oh, to be not a sponge, or a shield, but a container. I am naturally spongy. I will emotionally absorb the hell out of whatever human is near me, be it family or the lady on the elevator. It is an unfortunate gift. My over active empathy gland can be a real jerk. However, my dear friend Chris Holowaty, told me that it is better to be a container. Sponges absorb what is not theirs. Shields deflect and can hurt others in defense of their own heart, but a container collects and pours out. This is where faith in God comes in handy. I have a place to pour it. As a mother, having a containment policy is handy. It cuts down (not out) on crying spells and tongue lashings. Working on fortifying my container and preventing spillage.
Mascotting is not for sissies. See Sparkygate 2017 for details.
I am blessed to have kids but I do not have so many dang kids because I am blessed. I have known far too many couples who deserved babies and were never able to have them, and too many others who had them and did not value the privilege. It is a lie from the pit of hell (as my mother would say) that children are a sign of blessing. They are not merit awards. They are not bonus checks. (Although, according to Mike they are a little like a time shares. You aren’t sure what you are signing up for when you “attend the meeting”– if you know what I mean.) Children are not an indicator of worthiness. They are a gift to those who choose to take up the mantle of parenthood. It is the experience of helping a child grow up and out into the world that is the blessing. Too heavy handed? Probably, but I can’t help it. My hand feels like a thousand pounds right now. All muscle.
Always give it to Marshawn on the 1 yard line.
Monitor and Adjust. When life gives you four kids…
Present Heather should help Future Heather. My husband is a master at this skill. He is always considering how his future self will feel about his choices. Particularly in the area of product placement. Need a flashlight? Past Mike is on it. Need some hot coco in appallingly cold weather conditions? Mike knew you would. Marshmallows or no marshmallows is his only questions. Some say, stay in the present. Mike says, that’s fine…but what about future you. That guy would like to avoid getting screwed. I fail future Heather on the regular, and beat the shit out of past Heather for sport. I am working on being nicer to past Heather and more thoughtful of what future Heather might need.
Hot chocolate is better with chili in it and yet very few coffee establishments want to serve it to me this way. Where is the justice in that?
Blessed Self Forgetfulness. Tim Keller made a strong point that conceit and insecurity are two sides of the same coin. Both come as a result of comparing ourselves to others. Either we think we are downright more awesome and get prideful or find ourselves ‘lacking and get depressed. I am a undercover comparer shrouded in an “I don’t care how I look” bodysuit. I have lackluster leg structure. I joke about it a lot and stay as casual and unassuming fashion-wise as possible to draw attention away from them. In other words, I am noticing your legs–and I am wishing they were mine. But, the problem isn’t my legs, or yours. The problem is that I am thinking about MY legs so much, instead of nurturing them and being grateful they exist at all. Trying to think less about myself all together makes me feel kinder, more authentic and more loving. (But, if I could safely get a ankle transplant I might….MIGHT)
Growing things change and changing things grow. Mom strikes again. We can’t grow without being willing to change, and we cannot change unless we are willing let go of what we were.
One way to get your kids to start eating something other than dino shaped chicken nuggets and cereal is to teach them to cook dinner. I do not understand the science behind this, but for some reason, if I make my young sautéed mushrooms in a rosemary wine reduction, they act like I am asking them to eat garbage, but they will eat overcooked herbed carrot fries by the handful if it is their handiwork.
Marriage requires nudity. I don’t like being completely naked (See Mount Olympus). It’s just not my thing. I practice a sort of primitive snap chat. I like to be in control of lighting and coverage at all times, so as to emphasize the elements of my birthday suit I fancy most. Being nude for me, is like taking live selfies without editing options. However, marriage asks that we take off everything and show ourselves both figuratively and literally without filters. If we keep parts hidden (physically or emotionally) because we find them unattractive, we can be together but we can’t be as close as we were intended to be.
If you can’t make it good, make it memorable. Pretty much every blog I have ever written has been about this. If I could tattoo it to my forehead without looking weird I would.
Feelings don’t get hurt, but egos do. Tim Keller told me, via the internet, that when my “feelings are hurt” it is actually my pride that has been wounded. I am hurt that I am not who I thought I was, or who I wanted you to think I was. I am wildly sensitive and easily hurt, so apparently I have an ego the size of Texas. Maybe that is why I invented my alter ego Tonya.
Space Dust IPA is truth serum. Healthy in small doses.
Hearts either break apart or break open. I have heard this put in several ways, and have no spin, just recognition. Hearts that break apart tend to hurt others. Hearts that break open, grow and strengthen.
Prayer is a strange and wonderful thing. Sometimes I pray and I am pretty sure I am talking to myself. Sometimes I pray and I am actually talking to who I am praying with. Sometimes I pray and I am merely complaining. Sometimes I am begging. Sometimes I just scream at God as loud as I can. Sometimes all I can do is breathe, and that ends up being my prayer. Sometimes I pray and I fall apart. Sometimes I pray and I get put back together. Sometimes I pray and don’t feel anything. Sometimes I pray only because I think I am supposed to. Sometimes I pray and nothing happens. Sometimes I pray and it all makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I am okay with the mystery. Sometimes I am not. Sometimes it becomes very clear to me, that God is real and so I will keep on praying.
Peace comes from a quiet mind, entertaining no hypothetical bind. This is a line from a song my sister wrote. It has become a mantra for me since I not only have a very noisy mind but I am incredible at coming up with dangerous and sinister hypotheticals. It is a dark gift. I have taught this lyrical mantra to my children in an effort to counter their worries and assuage my own.
Struggle changes us one way or another. It either makes us bitter, or it makes us wise. Either way we change. Another Keller wonder-thought to think upon.
When preparing a meal whose origins are of another land, it is imperative to listen to the music of that land whilst cooking. For example, I love to prepare enchiladas to the musings of the Gypsy Kings. Making Cordon Bleu? I suggest the Amelie soundtrack. If I could govern my own country, I would make this a law, punishable in no way, but a law just the same.
Govern yourselves or you will be governed. My mom’s dear friend taught her this one. It is wildly effective on unruly youth since they are generally not fans of governance.
Even Mother Teresa struggled with doubt and depression. That thought used to terrify me. If Mother Teresa doubted God and his kindness, being the saint that she was, then aren’t we all screwed? But, after a great deal of consideration, I have come to this. What kind of human would she have been if she did not struggle with those things– having witnessed that degree of suffering. Only the coldest of hearts would not break. It brings me peace to know it is okay to wonder. To not understand. To love God and love people anyway.
Mumus solve everything. They level the playing field. It is like fashion communism. An equal distribution of fabric.
I would like to be a pastor for a day and give a sermon with bullet points derived entirely from the movie Elf.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. I am okay with the neighbor part I think. Although, poor Dave and Marilyn, next door, pretty much only see me if I need sugar. But, I am not too adept at the self love. I think I have been a little put off by the idea that people need to love themselves more. We modern folks love the hell out of ourselves to a fault. But, my friend Jenah put a spin on this that was helpful. She told me that when she wakes up in the morning, she looks in the mirror and says I love you, how can I help you today?How can I take care of you so we can go out there and fight the good fight. This makes self love about being our best so we can be available to others, not so we can supplant their needs. So, I shall implement this policy…but perhaps I will make it an end of the day love chat. I am not a morning person, and I don’t really like anyone until about 8:30am.
The truth really will set you free. An honest marriage is infinitely more beautiful and sustainable than one with secrets. Mike and I call it the full knowing. Those seasons of reveal can be painful, but without them we can not deepen our root system or protect our nest.
Very few arguments are worth winning. My dad is endlessly fun and light hearted, but he is also a deep well. Every once in a while he will casually say something ridiculously poignant. That is probably what makes him such a great song writer. He can simplify the profound. He made this point in regards to marriage, but I think it applies to encounters of every kind. Social media debates are a great illustration. People will fight to the cyber death with a stranger in Iowa, to “win”. They will tear their mystery opponent apart if need be–attacking their position, their grammar, their profile picture, their character, all in the name of winning. There are causes worth fighting for, but not every cause is a calling and very few injustices can be rectified through “arguing”. I have been in my fair share of debates. And a few were even worth my while, but most devolved into something other than progress. As I get older, I want to lift people up, not just call them out.
Build up the library of your heart. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.~ Psalm 90:12 The term wise up is fascinating. We think of it like, get your head in the game, or you better recognize–but, in the biblical sense, I think it might mean, build up the library of your heart. Store up truth and goodness, so that when things fall apart, you can put yourself back together again. And boy, do I fall apart sometimes. Usually, because my hormones have staged a mutiny on my soul, or because I didn’t take the high road, or I am in the midst of sub par parenting episode. I am not immune to a good old fashion melt down, but the more expansive my library–the less often I lose structural integrity and the more I can be strong for others. If you love Wisdom and don’t reject her, she will watch over you” –Proverbs 4:6.
Forty is the new 39.
CHALLENGE: Mike Pasley, you are it! What are your forty things?
Kenna, Chaylee and I walked into Century Link Field adorned with fancy light up wrist bands, ready to experience the joyous mystery of live performance. The first opening act was your typical young, emerging female artist. She hardly opened her mouth when she sang and moved around the stage seductively while breathing heavily into every lyric as if it needed to be resuscitated. Sort of a, Lorde meets Lorde, meets an asthmatic with good pitch. We got through it.
Then came Tov Lo…
I gotta stay high, all the time to get you off my mind… Not the best advice for young people.
She came off like a promiscuous Peter Cetera, post-legalization, with daddy issues and a crop top. (Note: Chicago produced some of the most co-dependent love songs of all time.)
Each song contained copius amounts of profanity, which I don’t usually have a problem with, if the taboo verbiage is well placed and surrounded with quality prose. But these were just F-bombs tossed out into the audience haphazardly–striking children and middle aged women who just really love the song Yellow. It felt cruel.
By the third jam, Kenna was placing actual wagers on how many F words we would have to endure per song. And these weren’t the angry adverb kind but the literal type. Carnal requests really. If she would have just dressed it all up in some fun innuendo I wouldn’t have had to ear muff my ten year old for a half an hour. My arms were getting tired.
What’s her next song gonna be called? I shouted over the applause, “My Vulva’s Crazy!”? Chaylee laughed hard, then asked me what vulva meant.
Just when we thought the onslaught of sex, drugs, and techno was overTov Lo decided to deliver one last little number.
This last song is my new single. It’s called “Disco Tits”. I hope you like it.
That was better than my crazy vulva idea. I cringed and awkwardly placed my hands back over Chaylee’s ears. Kenna was loving it. Not the song, but the spectacle of watching her mother squirm as Tov Lo belted out:
“I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go…”
How could Coldplay do this to us? Did they perform a background check on the Swedish super vixen? Had they heard her new single? I didn’t want to deliver my daughters from Disney bubble gum pop music only to introduce them to soft porn techno. Fortunately, we have strategy in our family for handling these kinds of situations–one that has been handed down for generations. If you can’t make it good…make it memorable. So I decided to treat Tov Lo and her free love–here have some drugs–message as an opportunity to banter with my girls about femininity, character development and the various anatomical reasons ones nipples may become firm. It was indeed memorable.
The headliner never apologized, but they didn’t disappoint either. By the end of the night I was confident that Tov Lo did minimal damage to our moral fabric and that Coldplay did some good.
What is one of your strangest concert going experiences?
How do you handle uncomfortable parenting moments?
I lied to you.
About the title, I mean.
This blog is not about my aspirations to become the baby of a successful travel writer and legendary storyteller, or my apostrophe issue. It is actually about why I cannot stick to my weekly blogging commitment. The one I made one week ago. The truth is, that was a stupid promise. Why did I think it was a good idea to challenge myself as Christmas approaches? Why don’t I just go out and get a gym membership while I am at it.
Instead, I am going to post some old entries and go for a nice walk. I’ll start challenging myself in the New Year
Emmanuel: God With Us
A video for the visually impaired. You will see what I mean.
Apparently, to increase blog traffic, one must start posting on a fairly regular basis. So that is exactly what I am going to do. Because, who doesn’t love traffic. In keeping with my current theme of vulnerability, I will attempt to create cyber congestion by revealing why it is a challenge for me to write on a regular basis.
- I usually only write about embarassing situations. These happen less often now that I am older and increasingly risk averse, not to mention that all the kids are in school so there are less parenting faux pas to process. Side note: the French term faux pas is amazing. I don’t like saying it, but I love writing it. It makes humiliation fancy. Only the French can pull that off. I usually say, “fox paw” just for fun though. Similarly, I like to call Brett Favre, Brett FAV-RAY. Why? Because come on! How in the world am I supposed to just pretend the “r” comes first, Brett. I get that you are a football legend, but that doesn’t mean we all have to play along. Would you be comfortable if I started spelling my last name “Palsey” but asking you to pronounce it “Pasley?”
- I feel like everyone and their mom is a blogger. Or a mom blogger. Or a blogging mom. Or a mom who likes reading blogs and is thinking about putting one together. It is being done and done very well by a whole lotta ladies. To do it right, you have to either know something about home design, or self deprecate just enough to be relatable, then demonstrate ground breaking maturity and wisdom so you are worth “following”. For example: If you just reveal that you screamed at your child like a she-demon…you have to end it with, but then I learned that she-demons are just fallen angels themselves… trying to raise little angels as best they can… or some guru shiz like that. No one ever ends their blog with the she-demon line. It’s the formula that is hard for me to embrace. I guess I have always rebelled against formula though. That might be why I can’t make pie crust.
- I am afraid of becoming an addict. This is a very real fear. Cyber affirmation is a drug. “Likes” are becoming a religion. People are putting their faith in them. A heart emoji literally means love. Really? As a modern day follower of Christ (yeah I said it) I am really, really trying to remember where my value lies. But I have to be honest, when I saw that someone from the Netherlands hit up my site, I got excited. Uncomfortably excited. Like, Julie and Julia excited. That’s ridiculous. Especially because I don’t even know what they read or how they felt about it. I just knew that I had travelled to the Netherlands for a hot minute. I want to find a balance between appreciating colorful emojis and positive reinforcement without needing them.
- Hey world…check…me out. I am not entirely sure that I want anyone to check me out. Is it self indulgent to want that kind of attention? (This is where you leave a comment telling me, I am worth it!)
So there they are. All the reasons I haven’t posted regularly.
Now for the challenge: I realize that the NPR New Years Resolution specialists suggest that you don’t share your goals so as to avoid pre mature pay off and/or disappointment, but I am going to do it anyway!
I will attempt to post once a week. I will not wait for humiliation or parental epiphanies to find me. Will you help hold me accountable sweet friends and family,
(and guy in the Netherlands). Don’t let me drop the ball. I need this exercise.
Future title possibilities:
Why I want to be Rick Steves and David Sedaris’ love child.
The unfortunate musings of Tove Lo
Spiders and Jive Turkeys
So, what are you going to do now that all the kids are in school?
I would like to officially apologize to every woman I have said this to. I am pretty sure, I tried to funny it up when I asked, but the meta message was still there.
What on earth are you going to do with all that time, I wish I had, but I don’t.
I am not sure what a better question would even be. What are you going to do with all that potential? How do you intend to use your super powers now? Will you finally get to do all that you dreamed of doing before you became a nurse log? No matter how the inquiry is framed it feels something like: GET A JOB!
Mike calls this season my sabbatical–my golden moment to pursue health and discover my passions. (Where did I find a man like this, you ask? I had him made. Thank you Ken and Deb.) Unfortunately, my focus on health has awakened my inner hypochondriac. I can’t seem to get rid of the sensation that there is something stuck in my throat and am fairly confident that I am at death’s door. I don’t think this is what my dear husband had in mind, but here we are.
The pursuing my passions piece has been interesting, but I confess the pursuit has mostly consisted of random career assessment tests, solo brainstorming sessions and crying spells. I have unsuccessfully submitted one story to NPR, written one blog about being stuck in my own pants, painted a portrait of Einstein, and researched the voice over industry and how middle aged women can break into the field as painlessly as possible. I coach choir club once a week and occasionally practice long vowel sounds with Mrs. Juhl’s first grade class. I rock the orca costume from time to time, against my better judgment, but no longer on the regular. Overall, I just spend a lot of time feeling like somewhere along the way, the list of things I wanted to do with my life got lost, and now I need to find it.
As a result of my weird, possibly hormonally driven, quasi midlife crisis, I have required Mike to prepare and deliver weekly pep talks on the beauty, sexiness, wisdom and viability of women in their forties. (I turn forty in three months. The separation is in the preparation.) During these pep talks, I have been encouraged to think outside the box. So here I go. Jobs I would be interested in, if prior experience, education, salary and aptitude were non issues–followed by naysaying.
Astronaut–I am terrible at math, claustrophobic, and have poor vision. Not a great candidate for space travel.
Today Show Host: A little late to the game. The women seem to age out in their forties on that program. It’s like Dazed and Confused. Lauer keeps getting older… and the girls stay the same age.
Foreign Correspondent: Family put the kibosh on this option due to safety concerns but I think I would be awesome at it. As long as I am not required to wear pencil skirts. Those don’t sit well with me.
Travel Writer: Waiting for Rick Steves to kick the bucket.
Motivational Speaker: Might need to nail down my own motivation first, but I do have a stage name on lock down: Robin Tonies.
Artist: I set up an etsy account to sell paintings, but my “cyber store” remains empty due to a total lack of confidence and a fear of art consumers, who seem naughty by nature and prone to judgy feedback.
Disney Land Tour Guide: Typically this role is reserved for young people willing to wear safari shorts and tropical button downs. Not sure if I am willing to relocate the whole family to make that happen.
Diplomat: I AM a push over. So….you know….maybe.
Member of an Improv Troop: I hear these cats make like $50 a night and the hours are flexible.
Sea Gal: I could be the lady that all the wives don’t mind. The Sea “every woman” gal. The one that helps them decide it’s okay to wear pants. I would also encourage them to bring an end to the shimmy, shimmy, bend move. It is tiresome. Simply bending over is not a viable dance move and adding a couple shimmies before-hand doesn’t make it good. If I don’t make the cut, I will just promote the drinking game I created years ago, (aptly named) “The Shimmy, Shimmy, Bend Drinking Game”. The rules are simple. If they double shimmy and bend over, you drink. I guarantee public intoxication by half time. Go Hawks.
Blogger: With approximately 3 views a day, I think it might behoove me to seek other avenue for revenue.
Teaching: Not just yet. I want to get my little ones farther along in their own academic journey before I become uninterruptible after school due to a heavy workload. Teaching is no joke man.
Insert suggestion here: __________________________________________________________________
I realize this is a wonderful problem to have. And I completely understand if women with toddlers and or folks working 60+ hours a week want to punch me in the face. But, consider this: there is a degree of additional responsibility that comes with not having as many responsibilities anymore. For example: When you have four children, people expect you to be late. They are not surprised if you cancel. Most mistakes can be blamed, at least in part, on children. In general, no one expects much out of you outside of executing your maternal responsibilities. You are a hero for bathing.
So, what am I doing with myself, now that all the kids are in school? I’ll let you know when I find out. In the meantime, I am going to take a bath whenever I feel like it.
Questions for my little audience that I love:
- I am nervous about turning forty and I am not sure why. Any ideas?
- If you are in your forties, what do you love about it?
- Did you or someone you know experience a mild crisis during a similar transition?
- Know any good sermons on aging gracefully?