My Perfectly Imperfect Life

Some of you have told me that you enjoy reading about my perfect, fantasy life. Can you hear me laughing? Seriously — if I’ve in any way made my life look flawless, I must be better at spinning stories than I thought!

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My life actually IS perfect…but it’s not because I don’t have stressful moments, obstacles, and worries just like everyone else in the world. It’s because I cherish those moments as part of the journey, and even though I definitely have my breaking point (as my neighbors can attest – they’ve all heard me yelling!)…I really do try to take those emotional waves as they come, riding out the storms as they hit me.

Like each of you, I’ve suffered tremendous loss in my life. I’ve been called a survivor more than once. And I’ve fought my way through a lot of briar patches to find my little patch of peace in the world. I don’t blog to make my life look prettier than yours — I blog to inspire you to find the pretty in your own lives.

Perhaps it would make you feel better if I would focus on the madness of my typical day. So here’s to you – a pure, unfiltered dose of my reality. A day in the life of Julie – Yesterday in fact.

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We started the day with an early wake-up call (5:30). My environmental activist daughter decided it was the perfect time in her life to make flyers and launch a club. She and a friend arrived at school in time to see the teachers crawling out of their cars, bowls of oatmeal and backpacks in tow, which convinced them once and for all that teachers are actual human beings who go home at night to a family and come back the next day for the students (go figure!).

The girls were there on a mission – to hang up flyers and start the movement that will once and for all convince folks that we must save our environment. This is my child who spends her free time reading endangered species lists and plans to be the next Jane Goodall.

 Jane Goodall and Tess

 

Needless to say, the morning was a bit more hectic than our regular routine of yelling “BUS! BUS!” as shoes, backpacks, and kisses fly out the door. That happens every morning with Emily. Adam, of course, joins a gang of guys to ride bikes at 6:30 every morning. (Girls are just not engineered to see the sunrise!)

I arrived at work by 7, ticked away the hours as a marketing writer until 3, and then rushed home to greet the kids when they got off the bus at 3:30 – grilled cheese sandwiches heating on the stove, homemade oatmeal cookies at the ready. After hugs, snacks, and “tell me about your day” time, the homework began.

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The doorbell started ringing. Text messages and e-mails were zooming around us. And the dog, cat, bird, and fish all needed their own forms of attention. We had exactly 1 hour until our evening rush would begin. Adam, a soccer game. Em, gymnastics. Pilates for me; and Chuck, a homeowner’s association board meeting. Despite our best efforts to keep our family balanced and not over-scheduled, everything seemed to fall on the same night…and we all got a little out of whack.

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 Because the morning was so hectic, I forgot to put the roast in the Crockpot – so I resorted to a drive-through dinner from Chick-Fil-A for the four of us (how’s that for Mother of the Year?!). No matter how busy we are, we always sit down at the table two to three times each day: breakfast, dinner, plus lunch and/or afterschool snack time – every day. Most of the time, we serve real home-cooked meals. Yesterday was one of those days when we just ran out of time. I should have skipped Pilates and spent the hour cooking instead, since the fast food dinner defeated the purpose of the workout (and of Em’s environmental movement); but I would have been much more stressed after cooking than I was after Pilates! Priorities…

After dinner, the rush continued – baths, more homework, return calls/texts/e-mails, and a mad dash to transport the dishes from the table to the dishwasher (which was already jam packed, as usual). My dear husband sounded the “what are you doing” alarm when he saw me piling the dishes in a way that was unsatisfactory to him (unlike me, he IS perfect – smile)…so I let him take over and I moved on to laundry, school lunches, etc.

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Fast forward thirty minutes. He’s gone to his meeting. The kids are finishing their night jobs, and I’m trying desperately to write an article for a last-minute freelance gig that was due by midnight (sigh). That’s when I heard my daughter say, “Mom, we’ve got a problem.”

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The whole Houston-Astronaut scene from Apollo 13 flashed through my head as I followed her into the kitchen to find — the dishwasher oozing white, fluffy, foamy bubbles all over the kitchen floor – and our 80 pound bear of a dog, Ellie, was having a great time trying to eat the yummy bubbles as they escaped the machine! 

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(And yes…we need a kitchen makeover!! I encourage all of you to tell my husband it MUST be done!)

Emily put Ellie outside as I thought, “Oh, Karma is such a divine gift for a wife whose husband had insisted that he could do a better job with the dishes!” The kids had fun stomping the towels down over the bubbles in their bare feet, and the floor was cleaner when the job was done. We laughed and had a great time with the whole fiasco. 

Just when I thought the adventures of the day had come to an end, I realized that our Golden Retriever, Ellie, was still outside — and the rain had started again (will it ever end?)! As soon as we opened the door, she bounded through the house with a coat covered in MUD! Unfortunately, she leapt straight for Emily’s room – which is, of course, covered in carpet! Within seconds, Emily’s off-white floors were spotted with muck. Ellie was sent to the garage to dry, and I started my search for carpet cleaner and scrub brushes. All the while, my writing deadline loomed in the background.

 Golden Retriever Muddy (Wet Ellie in the garage)

By the time my dear hubby returned home from his meeting, the house was back to normal and he never had a clue what fun he had missed. I had submitted a finished article, the kids were reading in their beds, dishes were washed, floors were clean, dog was dry, and my life was – of course – perfect (smile).

 By the way, if that little dose of chaos isn’t enough of an ego boost for you — consider the fact that my son also has a black eye this week. A little gift from his sister, who accidentally kicked him in the face while doing a cartwheel on the trampoline. I think they were playing X-Men at the time, but I warned Adam not to admit to anyone that the black eye came from his sister. Aliens. Dinosaurs. Wolverines. Anything but his sister! I highly recommend every boy get at least one black eye in his lifetime (smile). It’s done wonders for his self-esteem. Toughened him up within seconds.

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May you all have a fabulous day enjoying your perfectly imperfect lives! And if any of you ever even for a second think I’ve got it all under control — come spend a day with me and you’ll feel all better in no time!

j

Summer Hiatus

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I hope you’re all enjoying a fabulous summer in the sun. Like most of you, I am trying to soak up every single second with my family this summer. I will resume author visits in August.

Please contact me  to schedule a visit to your school, church, mothers’ group, library, or store: juliepcantrell@bellsouth.net

Thanks kindly for your continued support. I hope the books are bringing tons of smiles and snuggles to you and your kiddos this season.

In Jesus’ Name We Play

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Every night, when my children and I say our prayers, we end with the phrase, “In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”

When my son was two, he mistakenly replaced the world Pray with the word Play. The altered phrase stuck with me and carried a special message. Perhaps my toddler understood much more about faith than I had given him credit for. Was it a simple phonetic substitution, or was he telling me something I needed to hear?

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The next day, as I played with my young children at the park, I stepped back, and watched a sister and brother share the slide, play hide-n-seek, and venture out into the world at each other’s side.  I cherished every giggle, as they played together in a zone of perfect peace. Pure joy. Delight.

Delight – one of my favorite words. It makes me think of being so happy, so overjoyed, that we take on a special glow. We become one with the light – the supreme power, the essential energy that keeps the universe in sync. It is, in essence, the effect of touching God – or at least the closest we can come at this stage in our being.

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The point of the story is this — it’s not just when we pray that we should be reverent and respectful of our faith, but at all times – even when we play. And perhaps, in those jubilant moments, when we open ourselves up to true peace and happiness, it is then that we are closest to God.

How did I get all of that out of  a toddler’s simple twist of the tongue? I know it may seem a bit hokey. But I try to absorb the many lessons my children teach me. I hope I never let myself get too busy to stop and listen. To look them in the eye and process the connection of the moment.

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I truly consider my children to be the greatest blessings in my life, sent to teach me all I need to know about giving and growing. They have been placed into my hands to stir my soul, to strip me of all selfishness. Thankfully, they never fail to remind me that it’s the simple moments, the little glimpses of time I get to spend with them, that are the greatest gifts of all.

Enjoy every moment of your day. Find your joy. Be delightful. And remember, in Jesus’ name we play.

j